Consumer Affairs’ Top 5 Picks for the Best Online Car Buying Sites 

If you’re searching for a car but don’t want to spend hours at the dealership, you may wish to utilize an online car-buying site. Not only will you have the convenience of shopping from home, but you can also save time.

ConsumerAffairs used a variety of qualifiers to determine their best of 2022 list. They started with 17 different companies and narrowed them down by requiring a certain number of real five-star consumer reviews, only including sites that offer financing, and making sure the sites provide customer service at least five days a week.

Let’s look at their top five picks for the best car-buying sites.

1. Carvana

A Jeep's front grille is shown in close proximity with a Carvana logo as the license plate.
A used Jeep displays Carvana signage | Emily Elconin, Bloomberg via Getty Images
  • 100-day/4,189-mile limited warranty
  • 7-day return policy
  • Fixed prices
  • No minimum credit score for financing

ConsumerAffairs put Carvana at the top of their list – but what makes it stand out from the other car-buying sites? For starters, they conduct a 150-point inspection, and each vehicle has a CARFAX report. Although you cannot test drive cars, you have a week to return the vehicle if you’re not satisfied. Plus, you don’t have to worry about haggling over prices. If you live near one of the Carvana vending machines, you can pick up your car for free.

2. CarMax

  • 90-day/4,000-mile limited warranty
  • 30-day return policy
  • Fixed prices
  • Financing available for most credit profiles

Just like Carvana, CarMax offers a wide selection of vehicles at fixed prices. Their website is user-friendly, and you can narrow down your search results by make, model, colors, features, and much more. They work with most credit profiles, and if you need a co-borrower, they are able to sign the contract as well. Local shipping takes about three days if you live near one of the locations.

3. Autotrader

  • Warranties vary by car
  • No return policy
  • Negotiable pricing
  • Financing available through LendingTree

Autotrader has been stepping up its game – transitioning from print magazines to the online world. The website connects shoppers with a wide variety of options. This car buying site allows you to search for different criteria depending on your budget. There is also an app that lets you connect with sellers.

4. Tred

  • Offers add-on warranties
  • No return policy
  • Verifies vehicle histories
  • Offers to finance for most cars on its site

TRED is best described as a person-to-person pre-owned car marketplace. You can easily search for used cars, compare prices, apply for financing and schedule a delivery date. All payments are made through TRED, so you can have peace of mind when you shop. Need to sell your current car? You can set up an account to get started.

5. TrueCar

  • No warranties
  • 7-day, 250-mile return policy
  • Nonnegotiable pricing
  • Financing is through OpenRoad Lending

TrueCar has new and used cars available. If you’re searching for a new car, you can filter your results. Then, you’ll have access to the market average price estimate, MRSP, your estimated savings, and cars in the area that match your search. Their used car shopping process works the same way, and they even offer a trade-in program.

RELATED: 4 Tips to Remember When Purchasing a Car Online

What is the best car-buying site?

The answer depends on your needs and goals. If you are just getting started in the process, Autotrader is a great place to start. If you already know what you want, Carvana seems to be a favorite among consumers. The best thing you can do, though, is determine your budget and check out each of the sites.

Editor’s note: CarMax’s return policy was updated.