Car Information On The Internet – Car Pro Commentary

Every day, someone says to me something like “I read on the Internet that this car had this problem, and this car had this problem, etc”. After all, if it is on the Internet, it must be true, right? Not so fast.
person-shopping-onlineMany of the things you see on the Internet are false and scammers must doing something right, there does not seem to be a slowdown in people getting ripped off. 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.
The problem with believing blogs and other things written online is we do not know who wrote the information or if it is even remotely correct. This scenario plays out all too often: a salesperson at the local Ford store is bored and decides to blog bad things about the Chevy Malibu. Perhaps that same bored salesperson decides to blog great things about Ford Fusion. 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.
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 admits that “the values we provide are based on several factors including, but not limited to, the current marketplace which can be erratic and inconsistent.”
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.
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.
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.

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