A Smarter Way to Shop For Cars

Buying a car (new or used) is a pain point for many people.

Why? Because it’s a big purchase and there’s a general distrust of car dealers.

Although the Internet has brought about increased transparency, and made it more difficult for dealers to gouge buyers, there is still a lot of room for an improved car-buying experience.

New Cars

For new cars, the system I’m thinking of could be like a reverse auction system. A customer would enter the car they’re looking for, and dealers would bid for their business.

This is easier for new cars because a certain model of Camry for example is the same at Dealer A as it is at Dealer B.

Dealers would know they are in competition with each other and would have incentive to offer their best price. And customers, knowing the “bids” of all the nearby stores, would have better confidence in knowing they’re getting a good deal without having to haggle.

In an important contrast with other car shopping sites, your personal contact information would NOT be sold to the dealers. There’s nothing that pisses off customers more than getting hounded by salespeople when all they’re trying to find out is an honest price.

The system could have feedback mechanisms in place to reward good service and communication. And to punish dealers who abuse the system.

Used Cars

For used cars, the set-up would be a little trickier, but may be even more valuable. Instead of searching classifieds and other websites, customers could enter in the car they’re looking for either by model or type.

For example, you could put in Ford Escape 2006-2008, under 70,000 miles. Or you could input Small SUV, under 70,000 miles.

Similarly, dealers could then compete for your business in an open and transparent way.

Everyone wins. You get a better deal with less effort, and dealers get access to hot leads and only have to pay when they make a sale.


You’ll need to build a tracking system in which you earn a commission on each sale generated through the site, much like an affiliate marketing set-up.


  • http://ohheyworld.com/ Drew Meyers

    This is the Zillow Mortgage Marketplace model — just for the car market. Totally agree it is the ideal scenario. I’m guessing a few people have tried it, but no one has gotten close to scale yet.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tiffany.humfeld Tiffany Humfeld

    Isn’t this the model Carmax uses?