Experts: Phone apps can be good guides for car buyers

April 10, 2013 8:21:04 PM PDT
The Action 13 Consumer investigation team is helping you wade through the confusion of buying a new car. Turns out, it can be as easy as reaching for your smartphone. The digital tire kicking can save you time, money and hassle.

Thanks to smartphone apps, you can pick the vehicle, get an insurance quote and find out if there are any problems -- all from the palm of your hand.

Looking for a car has almost always meant a trip to the car lot, but those days may be gone for good, thanks to smartphone apps.

"There are mobile apps literally to do almost everything you need to buy a used car short of driving it off the life," Chris Basso with CarFax said.

Basso says a good place to start is the Auto Trader app.

"If you are not sure what kind of car you want to get, see what is out there. If you have a particular car in mind, you can narrow it down by year, make, model. It is very simple to narrow down your search, find the right car for you and your family," Basso said.

The Esurance app helps you figure out how much insuring that new ride will set you back.

"It takes you maybe five minutes, and you have an idea how much it is going to cost you per month to insure that vehicle," Basso said.

And the CarFax app can keep you away from a clunker, even those offered by private sellers.

"Most cars now are made with a barcode on the inside of the drivers side door jab or the dashboard. All you have to do is scan it and it will instantly pull up the VIN and it pulls up the CarFax information," Basso said.

The Kelley Blue Book app can then tell you how much the car is really worth. While the smartphone apps are great, Monica Russo with the Houston Better Business Bureau says consumers still need to use real world smarts.

"There are a number of scams out there that target car buyers, so you want to meet with the seller in person and you want to see the car in person," Russo said.

The car buying apps are free, but remember, if you are getting a used car take it to a mechanic before you buy it to make sure there is no hidden damage.

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