In today's fast changing car industry can you still rely on research sites like Kelly Blue Book, Edmund's, and TrueCar.com to find the right deal?

For many consumers that are looking to buy or sell their next vehicle Kellybluebook.com still remains the fan favorite when it comes to car research and pricing. For over 75 years they have appraised and estimated the values of most makes and models. KBB has grown to be a company that prides itself on giving accurate and full disclosure. Whether its invoice pricing, rebates offered, or incentives from the factory they have it all.

Although very informative, there are a few things to consider. First, if you are selling your car and you look up its value on KBB, you will notice that KBB does not offer a link to buy your vehicle at that listed price. Second that estimated price that you are seeing doesn’t really take into consideration the real market value of that car. For example, if your car is a purple Camry with a tan interior which is a tough combo to sell, KBB is not worried about selling it. For that difficult combo it will simply give you the same value as a blue or black Camry. In the real market that color on a Camry might be undesirable and very hard to sell. Third, most dealers don’t use KBB because trade-ins are often considered at wholesale pieces. Dealers must buy cheap and sell for a profit to stay in business.

Consumers looking to buy a new vehicle will find that KBB covers a lot of ground when it comes to invoice pricing, special financing, loyalty money, conquest cash, factory rebates and incentives even the dealer cash that’s made available. Keep in mind however, that it’s up to the selling dealer if they want to participate in any of these factory rebate programs. A lot of factors remain as to why dealers would choose not to participate in these types of programs.

Here are some important ones to consider. For example, as a result of the recent devastating Japanese earthquake and tsunami, most of the Japanese auto production and parts supply has been dramatically reduced. Toyota, the largest car manufacturer in Japan, has cut almost 50% of its production. Other Japanese car makers like Nissan, Honda, and Mazda have also taken steps to cut their production.

Here in the U.S. dealers rely heavily on the manufacturer cash back offers to subsidize lease and finance programs as well as offset rebates and incentives that they pass on to buyers. In essence what happened in Japan directly affects the U.S. customers who are in the market for a new vehicle. Even General Motors & Ford who build most of their vehicles in the U.S. to some extent use Japanese made parts for their vehicles. Many dealers have chosen to simply opt out of these programs in light of supply issues on the ground. Due to the cost of rebuilding in Japan, factories are planning to bring forth deep cuts to subsidized lease and finance rates as well as bonus cash, dealer cash, advertising dollars, core money, CSI (customer satisfaction index) money, stair step money, vehicle rebates, incentives, and even conquest and loyalty programs.

Without these offers, car dealers can no longer compete and afford to pass on such big savings on new or pre-owned vehicles. In today’s marketplace, dealers are desperately trying to reorganize themselves financially to be more competitive and profitable. It’s been an uphill battle for a lot of auto dealers to keep the discounts flowing. In many cases dealers have lost out on deals that they won’t honor due to a bottom line loss from advertised factory lease or finance promotions.

The economy has also been a problem for dealers. Many have had to increase sticker prices by as much as 10 to 15% to make up for losses.

Another important provider of car information is Edmunds.com. It has evolved in the late 90’s to become a top source of car pricing for dealers and consumers alike. Similar to KBB, it collects data from every manufacturer and car company to give buyers the latest on dealer cost, specials and used car values / trade values. Its known mostly for its TMV (true market value) pricing which they calculate from their own regional and national database. The down side is someone looking to buy a new car in Ohio will go on edmunds.com and find a low TVM pricing that no dealer is willing to honor in his area. The main reason is bigger states that sell more cars have more factory incentives to pass on like Florida, California, Texas and New York. So, the same new car purchased in two different regions simply cannot sell for the same price. For the consumer looking to further educate themselves on car buying, Edmunds.com also publishes reviews and offers valuable tips and advice.

The latest car buying site consumers are flocking to since 2008 is Truecar.com. Their only goal is to bring truth and transparency to car buying. Using a different approach than KBB and Edmunds, they concentrate mostly on the local and regional levels to show what consumers are actually paying for their cars. Truecar markets itself as a car buying site that bases its pricing on actual retail sales not opinions. So, the question is how reliable can their retail numbers be? The reality is, even though truecar.com is the latest car info site to come on the scene, it is still relatively young in comparison to the others. It is unlikely to have setup a vast network of connections in such a short time to get accurate retail sales.

Whatever the case may be, car buyers in today’s marketplace have plenty of information readily available. Unlike these big names that forecast or estimate car prices First Class Auto provides an actual service that is unique. We do our own research according to where the consumers lives which gives us an advantage when it comes to providing real and accurate numbers. Over the years our system has proven to be quite successful. It has provided the best deal along with an exceptional ownership experience. Our goal as an automotive service is to never get under-priced by car dealers or research companies.





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