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Tuesday 22 August 2017
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Not Everything You Read Online Is True – Car Pro Commentary

The Internet has changed our lives; I do not think anybody would argue that. While you can shop for just about anything at any time-while in your bathrobe, the Internet has also brought many bad things. Identity theft, scams galore, unwanted emails, and the list of the bad side of the Internet goes on and on. Add to that, bad car information.
Many of the things you see on the Internet are blatantly false, yet thousands of Americans have responded to an email saying you have “just inherited millions of dollars”. Hopefully, most people are able to spot the scams these days, yet when it comes to automobiles and in some cases, car dealerships, people tend to believe everything they read.
I hear from people daily who won’t look at a particular brand vehicle because they read on a blog or website that they were “bad cars”. The problem is, we do not know who wrote the information or if it is even remotely correct. I promise you, I can get online and find bad things about every car made. You’ve got to remember, you might find 100 bad things about a particular model that has sold millions of vehicles, which is a very low percentage. Keep in mind too that generally, happy people don’t post online.
This scenario plays out all too often: a salesperson at the local Honda store is bored and decides to blog bad things about the Toyota Camry, or perhaps the same bored salesperson decides to blog great things about Accord. I know for a fact some dealerships write horrible things about their competition online and somebody out there is going to buy into it and base an important decision on what they read. It is on the Internet, so it MUST be true, right?
On the radio show, I warn people all the time not to value their own trade-in by going to Kelley Blue Book, or looking at similar cars on a site like Autotrader.com. Neither of these plans generally works out very well. While the new car info at KBB is very good, their own website will tell you “the values we provide are based on several factors including, but not limited to, the current marketplace which can be erratic and inconsistent.”
It is important to note that KBB and Autotrader do not buy cars. In fact, they make their money selling ads on their websites, and selling leads to car dealers and manufacturers.
People tell me all the time they see cars just “like theirs” selling for a certain amount of money, always more than a dealer is offering them. I have to slow them down and make them aware that they are looking at asking prices. That doesn’t mean the vehicle actually sold for that price, sold at all, or it could have ultimately sold for thousands less. This just isn’t a good criterion upon which to base anything.
All this is not to say there isn’t good automotive information available online. I think Edmunds.com is a terrific website for doing research, but like everything else, you really need to keep in mind that much of what you find is opinion, not fact. Studies suggest most consumers spend five hours researching cars before they go look. I have no problem with this at all, but nothing will ever take the place of actually driving a new car to see how it fits you and your family. That is why most of us do not buy shoes online; we need to try them on first. Car reviews, yes even mine, are just one person’s opinion.
Some things never change in the automotive industry. One thing I tell people on the air constantly is to forget what a website says a used car is worth. No matter how new or old, no matter what brand, a car is only worth what someone is willing to write a check for it, and not a single one of these sites will buy your car, so keep that in perspective.




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