CarGurus Review: 5 Things To Know Before You Buy or Sell

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CarGurus is one of the most visited automotive shopping websites in the United States. You can use it to find used and new cars, research car values or list your own car for sale.

But is CarGurus the right website for you? Team Clark has explored the process of shopping for and selling vehicles using CarGurus to find out. 

In this article, I’ll look at how CarGurus works and detail its process for shopping for and selling cars. I’ll also look at the pros and cons of using CarGurus compared to similar resources.

Table of Contents:

Below, you’ll find more detailed information including how to get started on the site, how to buy and sell a car with CarGurus and pros and cons I found when using CarGurus.

How Does CarGurus Work?

CarGurus works to provide a better car-shopping experience using technology. According to the company’s website, CarGurus is the most visited automotive shopping website in the U.S. It claims to have more car listings than any other major online marketplace including Autotrader, Cars.com, and TrueCar. At the time of writing, CarGurus advertised more than five million listings.

CarGurus doesn’t hold a physical inventory, and it doesn’t own the cars that are listed on its website. Instead, it provides a way to shop for new and used cars across several different car lots in your area with personalized rates. To do this, you can pre-qualify for a car loan and get a price quote through CarGurus. Then you contact the dealership with your quote and set up a time to test drive and/or purchase the vehicle. 

You can use CarGurus to shop for both new and used cars or research the value of a car before you buy or sell it. You can also list your own car for sale on the website for 30 days for a fee of $4.95. Once you’ve found a buyer, you can safely make the transaction using CarGurus Pay.

Pre-Qualifying With CarGurus

In addition to being able to sell or shop for a car on CarGurus, you can also use the website to get pre-qualified. This is a great way to get an idea of what you can afford. Plus, knowing where you stand financially before you walk into a dealership can help you avoid getting ripped off by overpriced dealership financing.

“Getting pre-qualified is almost always going to save you money,” says Clark Howard.

You can get pre-qualified with CarGurus — with no impact on your credit score — in just a few minutes. Then you can browse available cars in your area with an idea of what your monthly payment will be before you even visit the dealer. I tried it out myself to see what the process looks like and then compared CarGuru’s loan rates to the estimate my credit union gave me.

CarGurus works with participating lenders to offer financing and pre-qualification rates. At the time of writing, the participating lenders were Capital One, Westlake Financial and Global Lending Services.  

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To get started, visit CarGurus’ website and click on “Financing.” Then click “Get Pre-Qualified” to begin.

CarGurus - Financing

While the process won’t have an impact on your credit score, you will have to enter your personal information including yourself: your name, email address, phone number, Social Security number and your date of birth. The application will also ask your home address, how long you’ve lived there, the type of property it is and your monthly payment. Finally, you’ll need to enter information about your employment status, employer, job title, how long you’ve worked there and your primary annual income. 

Once you’ve entered all of your information, you’ll be able to review it all. Then you’ll have to agree to the Borrow’s Agreement and the Terms and Conditions. If you have a co-borrower,  you’ll be able to enter that information as well.

You will have to sign in or register with CarGurus using the email address you entered. Then, you’ll be able to shop for cars with personalized rates

Shopping with real rates on CarGurus after pre-qualifying

As you can see, I searched for a Toyota Camry to try out the process. I found one with 43,699 miles and clicked on it. I qualified for the following rates: 

Pre-qualification rates for a Toyota Camry

When I called my credit union and asked them for an estimated APR on the same vehicle, I found that a 760+ credit score would allow me to qualify for an APR of 3.99% on a loan for a 2019 vehicle. The 36-month financing option GarGurus quoted through Capital One was a better deal.

Still, it’s important to consider your options and check with your credit union before deciding where to finance. A number of auto insurers also offer auto loans now, so be sure to check with yours before making your decision.

Buying a Car With CarGurus

CarGurus prides itself on making it easy to shop for new or used cars in your area. To get started, you can click on “Used Cars” or “New Cars” at the top of the page. From there, you can enter the make, model and year of the car you’re looking for as well as your ZIP code. 

Shopping for a car on CarGurus

From there, you can filter, sort and narrow your search results by car, body style, price, distance, contactless services, financing, mileage and more. If you’ve pre-qualified with one of CarGurus’ participating lenders, you’ll see personalized rates while you shop. 

You’ll see deal ratings ranging from “great deal” to “overpriced.” CarGurus prides itself on unbiased rankings and information transparency according to the website.

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Details of a used Toyota Camry

Once you find a vehicle you like, you can click on it for additional information. You’ll see the vehicle’s details including the miles, previous owners, features, MPG, dealer’s price, location and more. 

You can also fill out the pre-written message on the right side of the screen to request more information about the vehicle. Once you’ve filled out your information including your name, email address and phone number, you can click “Send Message” to contact the dealer and set up a test drive. 

If you pre-qualified through CarGurus, the message will be modified to include that information. In my case, it was Capital One and Westlake. You can also write down the car’s VIN number and additional information to check out other financing options before visiting the dealership. 

The sale of the car itself will take place between you and the dealership. 

Selling a Car With CarGurus

If you’re looking to sell your current car for whatever reason, listing it on CarGurus could be a great way to find a buyer. A 30-day listing costs $4.95 to create, but you won’t have any additional fees when your car sells nor will CarGurus take a cut.

To begin, click “Sell My Car” at the top of the page. Then, you’ll have to enter a few details about your car and location to estimate the car’s value. You can also look up your vehicle by VIN or license plate number.

Selling your car on CarGurus

Once you’ve entered the details, you’ll see an estimated return for selling the car yourself. If you want to proceed, click “List My Car for $4.95.” Once you do, you’ll have to enter some additional information about your car for the listing. This includes a detailed description and information about cosmetic details. 

You’ll also be able to set your price. When you do, you’ll also see how it will rank on CarGurus (as a Good Deal, Great Deal, etc.)

Deals Ranking on CarGurus

You’ll have to agree to the Terms of Use before proceeding. You can also sign up to get text notifications when a buyer contacts you. According to the website, your phone number will remain private. When you’re ready to create the listing, you’ll be able to upload photos of your vehicle. You’ll also have to enter a payment method for the $4.95 listing. 

Final Thoughts: Pros and Cons

Overall, CarGurus is a good resource to check out whether you’re shopping for or selling a car. Even if you’re just gathering information, the website offers great resources under the “Car Values” and “Research” tabs. There, you can find out what specific cars are worth and read test drive reviews. 

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When I checked out CarGurus, I looked up the car values for a few popular vehicles including my own. I did the same thing on a few competitor sites including Edmunds, Kelley Blue Book and Autotrader. While there were slight differences in the value estimates, they were all within $1,500 of one another. For this reason, I feel that CarGurus’ Instant Market Value estimations are relatively reliable

When it comes to shopping for a car on CarGurus, just be sure to do your research. While I found a better loan rate with Capital One through CarGurus than I did with my credit union, you may find better rates elsewhere. Be sure to check out your options for financing before visiting a dealership. As far as the prices go, you’ll see the price the dealership is listing on the website. CarGurus will rate that price as great, good, average, etc. 

After checking out CarGurus myself, here are a few of the major pros and cons I found with the website: 

Pros:Cons:
CarGurus is a reliable resource for finding vehicle values and additional unbiased research.CarGurus doesn’t have a physical inventory, which means you’ll just be put in contact with nearby dealerships.
You can get pre-qualified for financing online before visiting a dealership.CarGurus doesn’t purchase used vehicles directly, which means when you list your car you’ll have to wait for a buyer to purchase it.
You can compare prices, deals and inventory at nearby dealerships online.If you’re selling a car, it isn’t free to create a listing. It costs $4.95 to post your listing for 30 days. 

Have you bought or sold a car with CarGurus? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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