Although most car buyers will make an official vehicle purchase locally, most of our shopping and research is done online. After all, it is easy to find, research, and compare vehicles all from the comfort of our own homes. With high gas prices, don’t waste a trip to look at a car until you are sure!
When searching for used cars online, you’ll come across a number of websites, software programs, and smart phone apps that enable you to search with a keyword phrase instead of selecting a specific make and model. If you are looking for a particular make, such as Ford, but you don’t have a preference as to the model, the ability to use a generic search phrase is recommended. Same if you are shopping on a tight budget; you are just looking for a car (any make and model) that you can afford.
As for that search phrase, it is recommended that you take into account the type of used car you’d like to buy. With the example above, a “Ford” search can produce a wide range of Ford vehicles, including cars, trucks, minivans, and so forth. A “Ford Focus” search will produce more relevant results. If you have a specific make and model, search with it.
As mentioned above, those car shopping on a tight budget may not have specific make and model in mind; they just want a vehicle that they can afford. When doing a Google search, you may add in “cheap cars for sale.” On actual classified sites or car buying sites, do not do this. Instead, just use the phrase “car,” “van,” “truck,” and so forth. Yes your goal is a cheap used car, but actually adding in the word cheap will skew your results.
Another search filter or feature you’ll commonly find on most car buying sites or car finder apps is the ability to set a price range. Do this! If you are shopping on a budget and use a generic search phrase, such as “cars,” you’ll see ALL for sale cars in your area that meet your search criteria! This means you’ll have the largest selection of vehicles (regardless of make and model) that you can afford.
A good website will enable you to enter in your zip code and then select a radius to search. For example, if your search radius is set to 25 miles, you will only see vehicles within a 25 mile radius of your zip code. Feel free to play around with this distance. Yes, it might be nice to search for local cars for sale within 25 miles of your home. However, you will get the largest selection of vehicles and more price choices by expanding your radius. Take advantage of email or phone calls to contact sellers beforehand; determine if the vehicle is worth taking the time to drive and see.
It is also common to see a few additional search filters on car finder smart phone apps and vehicle buying sites. For example, you may be able to enter in a minimum and maximum year, select a color, and so forth. If you have a specific want or need in mind, activate these filters. Your results will be targeted, meaning you’ll see the vehicles that fit all of your search criteria. Keep in mind that you will see limited results.