Shopping for a car online requires diligent research and repeated checking of listings, usually on multiple websites.
Car-buying apps cut out some of that work. They can send mobile alerts when prices drop or new cars surface, and they have abilities their company websites don’t, like scanning a window sticker or vehicle identification number for price estimates. Plus, you’ll have bargaining power in the palm of your hand when you talk with a dealer or private seller.
Tip: It’s smart to shop for the best auto loan — which you can do online or at your local credit union or bank — before you head to the dealership.
We checked out many of the most downloaded and top-rated car-buying apps. Here are our favorites, in no particular order:
1. Used Car Search Pro
This app accesses CarMax’s nationwide inventory of more than 50,000 vehicles. You can get alerted when prices drop, compare up to 10 cars at once and calculate payments on your phone. You also get free vehicle history reports, and CarMax’s expert and customer reviews. Plus, you can scan window stickers or bar codes to access all of a vehicle's information at any CarMax dealership.
The app exclusively searches CarMax dealerships, all of which have non-negotiable prices on their cars. If you appreciate upfront pricing, that's great news. If you don’t mind haggling for the best deal, maybe CarMax isn’t for you. If there’s a CarMax location near you, the app provides a no-hassle car-buying experience.
Its top-tier car reviews have everything buyers need, and the helpful “costs of ownership” section breaks down expenses, like average fuel and repair spending, for various models. And if you click the app’s “help” section, you can text an Edmunds car-buying expert directly for any questions on car buying or leasing.
5. Car Buying by Kelley Blue Book
Kelley Blue Book is a renowned source in the auto world. The website provides a broad spectrum of car tools, but its Car Buying app focuses on reviewing and pricing specific models and finding dealerships near you. You’ll also access Kelley Blue Book’s car pictures and in-depth videos.
The app is simple to use and has trusted brand power, but it doesn’t have close to all the information its website offers — and it can’t show you local listings of cars you're searching for.
The app sends your contact information and price quote to a network of over 13,000 TrueCar Certified Dealers, which means plenty of sales calls but also plenty of offers.
Autolist claims to have the “largest selection of cars” to search, pulling from thousands of used car app and dealership listings. But we love its large, high-definition car images to swipe through as you search.
It also includes a Buyer Intelligence section showing how a car’s price compares with others in the area, how long the car has been on the market and its price change history. You can also get alerts when the price drops on one of your favorite listings.