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A few years back, CarGurus was unknown to most people. The site is now the most popular car-shopping website in America, surpassing more well-known brands like It also launched a national television campaign. It’s not difficult to buy a used car, just like comparing affordable car insurance. CarGurus’s core philosophy is to make the automotive market transparent and trustworthy. Does it live up?

What is CarGurus?

CarGurus is more popular than you might think. Langley Steinert (co-founder of TripAdvisor) launched CarGurus in 2006. It uses data analytics and proprietary algorithms to answer shoppers’ questions about car shopping. This is the best deal? Can I trust this dealer. The site’s most well-known feature, the CarGurus Instant Market Value is (IMV), is its own calculation of the fair retail value for a vehicle based on comparable listings. Dealerships can post their vehicles for free. CarGurus currently lists over 5 million vehicles. This model works for CarGurus. The site attracts more than 30,000,000 unique visitors per month and is making huge money from car dealers. But is it worth the effort for you, as a consumer?

CarGurus: The Benefits

  • It is truly impartial. CarGurus has more than 50 percent of American car dealerships that pay to list their vehicles. Rest don’t. CarGurus does not discriminate by placing paying customers’ vehicles last. The best deals are at the top, followed closely by fair deals, and finally those priced above the Instant Market Value. Sponsored listings are available, but they are clearly marked. If the dealer is highly rated by users, listings also receive a boost.
  • You can read dealer reviews. Have you ever heard of a dealer? You can find out what you should expect by reading CarGurus reviews from other buyers. Good customer service. “Stopped all communication after I stated that I wanted to pay cash, not finance” = not great. It is also possible to see how dealers respond to negative reviews.
  • CarGurus helps you negotiate. Perhaps you are apprehensive about the prospect of haggling with a dealer over a car. Perhaps you enjoy the excitement of making a deal. A CarGurus listing can provide valuable information to help you choose the right car. It will show you how long the vehicle has been on the site. If it’s been there for several months, this may give you some leverage. The price of the car will drop, if any, which could reveal how low the dealer is willing go. You’ll also see how many people have saved cars.
  • Get an instant market value for your car. Check your IMV on before you sell or trade in your car. It is possible to be surprised at the difference in price between the Kelley Blue Book estimate and that price, which is the traditional method of valuing used cars.
  • With CarGurus, you can easily sell your car. Private sellers can list their vehicle on CarGurus and receive up to $75,000 of protection during the secure online transaction. CarGurus can also provide financing to the buyer.

The Cons of CarGurus

  • It can be difficult to communicate with dealers. CarGurus’s unique feature is its ability to instantly connect buyers and dealers. To have the dealer contact your information and/or email you when you’re interested in a vehicle, simply enter your phone number or email address. This system isn’t always to the buyers’ satisfaction. You’ll see enough reviews to find many people who claim they have never received a reply from a dealer, or that they were not contacted in time.
  • Sometimes car listings are inaccurate. CarGurus reviews often tell the same story. A potential buyer arrives at the dealer to find that the car advertised has been sold. Bummer. Our advice: If you are really interested in a car, follow up on your online request by calling the dealership to express your interest and to schedule a test drive. You’ll lose your negotiation power if you get too excited.
  • Private sellers are rare. Private sellers can sometimes offer the best deals on used vehicles. CarGurus lists most cars on dealer lots. Although private auto sales have their downsides, such as used car scams, it is nice to have this option.
  • CarGurus will charge you a fee to list your car. You can list your car for free, but you will have to pay $99 when it is actually sold.
  • To sell your car, you will need to go through some hurdles. CarGurus requires that the seller prove ownership of the vehicle. The site will remove your listing until you meet a specific request. You must send a photo with only one door open, and a copy or printed paper with a verification code in the windshield. This is done by CarGurus to discourage scammers but it’s still painful.

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