A Student's Reaction to Used Car Websites

A Student's Reaction to Used Car Websites

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A Student's Reaction to Used Car Websites


Getting a used car instead of a new car is becoming a trend in America today. People do not want to spend money for new cars cause of the fact that cars’ values diminish significantly. This is exactly what my friend thought when he bought his used Acura CL 2.3 Coupe 2D for 13,500 dollars last years from a local dealer. Now the question is whether the price he paid really makes sense considering the current options and conditions of the car. Unfortunately, my friend didn’t even do any research before he bought this car. Thus, he bought this car with a relatively higher price than the price that he actually could have. Based on some of the used cars sales websites like kbb.com or edmunds.com which will be discussed later, he can actually buy that car for 12,585 (kbb.com), or 12,233 (edmunds.com). Inspired by my friend’s experience, I did some study on websites that can help you to negotiate for a used car like a pro. I come up with these two websites that I mentioned earlier—kbb.com and edmunds.com.

Both these websites have their advantages and disadvantages. Later in the discussion, I will present all the features of each websites, and compare both websites. The question about which websites is better again depends on the user’s needs.

The first website that will be evaluated is the kbb.com. This website which was created by Mike Kelley in 1981 is an online version of the standard Kelly Blue Book guidelines for all used cars. Why this website is trusted by a lot of people has a long history dated back to 1918 when Les Kelly, the Pioneer of this service, created the Kelly Blue Book. The background of the existence of the Kelly Blue Book will not be discussed too much since it is beyond the scope of this paper. However, this online version makes it much easier for people to browse through the internet and find out about the appropriate price they can bargain for with the local dealers or with the private owners.

How so? This question can be simply answered by the user friendliness of the website itself. The graphic is simple, and the features are well organized so that it is easy for people to go from one feature to another.

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Additionally, the simplicity of the website has made the access to the website fast. This simplicity include the fact that kbb.com doesn’t have a lot of those annoying advertisements graphics that usually make the website’s loading process slow.

One of the advantages of kbb.com is that the features are well organized; but are the features complete enough to satisfy the users’ needs? What are all those features? One of them is the research feature. This feature allows you to get the values (The Kelly Blue Book Value) of a desired used car. These values include the trade-in value, private party value, and the suggested retail value. User can select on one of these values depending on their transaction needs separately. In the researching process, one of the advantages that kbb.com has is that users can specify the detail of the cars’ specification and condition. Kbb.com even has this condition quiz through its “rate it” option that determines whether a car is in a good shape or condition or not.

Furthermore, the thing that makes kbb.com even better is the option that you can actually compare up to four cars side by side. Some users are not sure about which cars they want to get. This problem can be answered easily by this 4 comparison feature that kbb.com has. Users can easily compare one vehicle to another, and choose one that suits their tastes.

Sometimes, doing a self experiment like comparing several cars is still not enough. Some people may want to get used cars that are within their available budget. This is not a problem when they use kbb.com for there is another option that users can use to specify the price range that is comparable to their budget.

In terms of pricing, kbb.com also has a calculator feature that users can use to calculate total car price. If users have cars to trade in, they can include the trade in values into this calculator to estimate the total cost for their used cars. After knowing the total price of the car, what is next?

If users are not sure about the whole process of what they have to do when they buy used cars, kbb.com offers this great feature called “6 steps to financing.” In this “6 steps to financing” feature, users can really see the big picture when it comes to buying used cars including the total price which is discussed before, the loan option, the resale value, cost of ownership, best dealerships, and the users’ credit reports themselves.

Other than pricing, user sometimes concern about the real condition of the car itself. This is why kbb.com provides free lemon check feature where user can obtain the history report of the desired car by specifying the vehicle ID number.

All these features that kbb.com has, in terms of buying used cars, are summarized in the “10 steps to buying used cars” under the advice feature. Once again, this is why kbb.com has a simple and easy structure that makes it exceptional among the other used car sales websites.

On the other hand, edmunds.com was founded in 1966. The current editor in chief Karl Brauer has done a good job in maintaining the goal of this website that is to provide consumer automotive information on the Internet. This website is more consumer oriented I would say. Even though it has some similar features as the ones in kbb.com (such as appraisal, reviews or ratings, calculator, used car listings, tips or advices), this website has its own uniqueness that can be useful for all users..

The difference I found that makes edmunds.com better is in the sense that the research feature displays all kinds of values (such as the retail, trade in, and other values) side by side. This way, users do not have to do separate look-ups for each value.

However, edmunds.com doesn’t have an in-depth or detail research in a way that users cannot specify as many options as kbb.com can--such as the availability of air conditioning, power steering, dual front air bags, sliding sun roof, moon roof, and many more.

The other different feature that edmunds.com has is the award icons. Every year, edmunds.com conducts several researches that are based on five categories. Those categories are:

• Editors’ most wanted (favorite models)
• Consumer’s most wanted (what people mostly want for their cars)
• Used Car Best Bets (The most wanted cars based on their reliability)
• Lowest True Cost to Own (Cars with the lowest cost during the full term of ownership)
• Depreciation value (The cars that maintain their price more during reselling)

Users can easily determine whether a certain car is good or not by looking up on one of these icons. The more icons that a car has, the better the car is. This simplified review or rating really helps users a lot in a way that they do not have to read a lengthy review.

Edmunds.com is also more interactive in the sense that users can talk more to the people from around the world through its Forum feature. Through this forum, users can have a real discussion with all the experts from around the world. This is one of the outstanding features that makes people want to use edmunds.com instead.

As mentioned before, this website is consumer oriented. This fact is supported by the TMV tool (Trade Market Value) that edmunds.com has. TMV tool provides the users with the current average price that consumers pay for a particular vehicle. This TMV value can be used as a guideline for buying used cars.

In spite of some of these advantages that edmunds.com has over kbb.com, edmunds.com has its drawbacks too. The home page is not as simple as the one in kbb.com. Thus, loading or navigating through edmunds.com pages takes more time. Edmunds.com is also less user-friendly. Some of the features have pop ups, and there are a lot more advertisements that go along with the main page than kbb.com. Edmunds.com has more complicated organization. Thus, in terms of finding information, Edmunds.com is not as straight-forward as kbb.com.

In conclusion, I cannot say about which website is better than the other. Each website has its own positive and negative points. That is why I always use both websites when it comes to buying used cars. For example, I would use kbb.com for an in-depth research so that I can specify more options. I would also refer to kbb.com when it comes to guidelines of buying used cars because it is more organized and easy to follow. However, I would use edmunds.com to interact with other people through its forums to get real experiences. Edmunds.com is also good for its simplified ratings or reviews. Thus, the answer about which website is better really depends on the users’ needs.
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