Do any of the various car search sites out there NOT require you to know in advance what make of car you want?
February 12, 2008 2:14 PM   Subscribe

Do any of the various car search sites out there NOT require you to know in advance what make of car you want?

So, after putting my car on its' roof on the ditch last weekend (no one was hurt, thank God/Allah/The FSM), I suddenly find myself in the market for a new car.

All of the car search sites I have come across so far want me to already know what make of car I want. I really couldn't care less who made it, as long as it's reliable and has most of the features I want.

Is there a site out there that will ask me what features are important, then suggest a car, and possibly allow comparison with others?

I'm in the Midwest US, since it probably matters.
posted by ArgentCorvid to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Something like this?
posted by demiurge at 2:17 PM on February 12, 2008

That's a tough one.

How about Edmunds' buying guide?
posted by notyou at 2:52 PM on February 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cartalk has one too, though for new cars only.
posted by phoenixy at 4:08 PM on February 12, 2008

This will actually be easiest if you do some of the work yourself. If you want to know what used cars are reliable, the best place to go is Consumer Reports' annual auto issue, which gives reliability information for cars of different years. Take a look at their online used car ratings to see how useful they are.

You should be able to narrow your choices down to a handful of cars based on the size, safety, features and reliability you're looking for, as well as the price you're willing to pay. Reliability especially tends to set some cars ahead of others. Honda, Subaru and Toyota have traditionally been the most reliable manufacturers, and they have tended to make very good cars (though Subaru's consume more gas because of their four-wheel drive).

Once you've narrowed your choices down, searching through used car listings becomes a lot less daunting. Good luck!
posted by Dasein at 4:30 PM on February 12, 2008

By the way, it looks like for the Consumer Reports, you'll need to fork over $6 for a month's access to a lot of their site. If you do, be aware that they'll auto-renew you if you don't take steps to cancel.
posted by Dasein at 4:31 PM on February 12, 2008

seconding phoenixy's link, because you not only rate what features you want, but also which are most important to your decision. And then it lists several choices that you can compare.
posted by saffry at 4:47 PM on February 12, 2008

If you're considering a used car, Vast will let you search or filter on all sorts of criteria. For example, cars from model year 1997-1998, cars with 25,001-35,000 miles, cars with 6 cylinder engines, cars with air conditioning, CD player, or leather interior. It will also let you search for cars model year 1997-1998, with 0-65,000 miles, 6 cylinder engines, air conditioning, CD player, AND leather interior (187 results).

Then you can filter by city, state, zip code, price, and so on.

If nothing else, playing around there might give you some ideas of what's available with the features you want, so you can then go read reviews or do more in-depth research.
posted by jewishbuddha at 8:50 PM on February 12, 2008

Carmax has this feature.
posted by grateful at 12:52 PM on February 13, 2008

Response by poster: @jewishbuddha: that's the method I was thinking of using.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:23 AM on February 16, 2008

Response by poster: ok, for those who may come through here in the furture on a search, this is my impression of these suggestions:
  • Kelly Blue Book
    • Seems alright, but there were few car features to choose from, compared to the other sites.
  • My Product Advisor
    • pretty good, is in a 'Wizard' sytle. but is kinda hard to tweak, once you get to the end. and good luck trying to repeat your results, as almost all the input you give is in slider form.
  • Vast
    • I was suprised by this one; It gave me local results, even though i'm in the middle of nowhere. the only bad thing about it is the interface. all of the choices you make for what you want are done one-by-one in the bar to the left of the page.
  • Carmax
    • I wasn't able to use this one, because Carmax has no affiliates in Iowa, or something like that.

posted by ArgentCorvid at 11:25 AM on February 16, 2008

Bizarre bug of Vast: it seems to be impossible to tell it you want a stickshift, or don't.

(ArgentCorvid, you wouldn't've noticed this, but Vast includes Carmax ads....)
posted by FlyingMonkey at 12:40 PM on February 26, 2008

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