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How CarGurus Works

How CarGurus Works

CarGurus is a popular online automotive marketplace that helps people buy and sell new and used vehicles. Founded in 2006, the website has become one of the largest online car shopping destinations, with over 30 million visitors per month searching listings from thousands of dealerships and private sellers nationwide.


The CarGurus platform brings together car buyers and sellers in one centralized online marketplace. For buyers, it allows them to search millions of vehicle listings in one place and provides unbiased information like price analysis, ratings, and reviews to help them make informed purchasing decisions. For sellers, CarGurus provides a large audience of car shoppers and makes the listing and selling process quick and hassle-free.


With its massive inventory searchable in one place and innovative tools and data to remove the stress and uncertainty from car shopping, CarGurus has become a hugely popular resource. The website’s commitment to complete transparency and putting consumers first has helped it gain trust as well. CarGurus aims to make car shopping simple, empowering buyers and sellers to find or sell the right car at the right price.

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How CarGurus Works

CarGurus provides a centralized online marketplace connecting car buyers and sellers. Both dealerships and private sellers can list their vehicles on CarGurus for free.

For dealerships, CarGurus generates leads through consumer inquiries on their listings. Dealers can pay for subscription services to enhance the visibility of their inventory. These subscriptions allow dealers to showcase their listings, promote special offers, track leads and more.

CarGurus helps buyers by providing price analysis on listings based on market data. This allows consumers to feel confident they are getting a fair deal. The site also has comparison tools to easily weigh options across different makes and models.

Private sellers simply pay CarGurus a flat fee when their vehicle successfully sells. This means sellers can list their car for free upfront and only pay if and when they complete a sale on the platform.

By bringing together inventory from dealers and private parties, providing pricing tools and generating leads, CarGurus simplifies the car shopping process for both buyers and sellers.

 

Key Benefits for Car Buyers

CarGurus provides a wealth of helpful features and information to assist car shoppers throughout the buying process. Here are some of the key benefits buyers can expect when using the platform:

 

Search Millions of New and Used Car Listings in One Place

The CarGurus website and mobile apps contain a massive inventory of vehicles aggregated from thousands of dealerships nationwide. You can easily search through millions of new and used car listings all in one place, rather than visiting multiple websites. This makes it simple to find exactly what you want.

 

Compare Prices and Features Across Makes/Models

Not only does CarGurus allow you to search a huge selection of cars, it also makes it easy to compare different makes and models. You can view detailed listings side-by-side, compare prices, features, crash test results, and other specs to find the best option.

 

View Unbiased Vehicle Ratings and Reviews

In addition to the basic specs, CarGurus provides unbiased ratings and reviews for vehicles from industry experts as well as owners. These can give you valuable insight into real-world performance, comfort, tech features and overall ownership experience for any car you are considering.

 

Estimate Loan Payments and Connect with Lenders

The CarGurus website allows you to estimate your monthly loan payment across various terms. You can submit information anonymously to banks and lenders to get personalized loan offers without affecting your credit score. This makes it easy to determine affordability.

 

Feel Confident Negotiating Fair Prices Leveraging Data/Tools

One of the most useful parts of CarGurus is the price analysis information it provides. You can see price trends and compare current asking prices to the dealer invoice price and market average. This “Fair Price” data gives you leverage to negotiate a competitive deal.

 

Advantages for Car Sellers

For those looking to sell their vehicle, CarGurus provides a number of advantages over traditional methods of selling privately or trading into a dealership.

The most significant benefit is access to CarGurus’ large audience of in-market car shoppers. With over 30 million monthly visitors searching listings, sellers gain incredible exposure for their vehicle. Listing on CarGurus means exponentially more people will see your car versus simply putting up a classified ad or “for sale” sign.

The process of creating a listing is quick and user-friendly. Sellers can easily upload photos and details about their vehicle in just a few minutes. Required information is minimal to get up and running.

One of the best aspects of selling through CarGurus is the pay structure. Unlike auction sites or classifieds that require upfront fees, CarGurus uses a percentage-based model. Sellers only pay CarGurus a flat 5% fee once their vehicle successfully sells. If no sale occurs, it’s free to have an active listing.

For those wanting more visibility and exposure, CarGurus offers affordable listing enhancement features. Options like spotlight listings, premium placement, and vehicle history reports help sellers differentiate their listing for as little as $5-$25 per month.

 

Built on Consumer Trust

CarGurus has earned the trust of millions of car shoppers by being completely transparent and committed to providing unbiased information. This sets them apart from many other automotive marketplaces. Here are some of the key ways CarGurus builds consumer confidence:

 

Commitment to Transparency

CarGurus is dedicated to showing consumers the full picture when it comes to car listings. They do not allow dealerships to pay for sponsored listings or higher placement in search results. All inventory from dealers is treated equally. CarGurus also provides upfront pricing, so you’ll know the full cost of a vehicle before even contacting the seller.

 

Accurate Market Value Algorithms

The company has developed advanced algorithms that accurately determine fair market value prices for vehicles. This CarGurus Instant Market Value tool provides unbiased price analysis, so you have benchmark pricing as you negotiate with dealers.

 

Certifies Exceptional Dealers

CarGurus instituted the Top Rated Dealer program to certify dealerships that excel at customer service and transparent pricing. Earning this badge means a dealer must have near perfect consumer ratings. It’s an easy way to identify trustworthy dealers.

 

User Reviews Build Confidence

In addition to dealer certifications, CarGurus allows customers to leave detailed ratings and reviews of dealerships. With thousands of independent reviews, you can quickly gauge the reputation of a dealer before ever contacting them.

 

Criticisms and Controversies

While CarGurus has generally positive reviews, the company has faced some criticism over the years for certain business practices:

 

Pressure Sales Tactics

Some buyers report feeling pressured by dealers to make a purchase after submitting inquiries through CarGurus. Dealers may aggressively try to get buyers into the showroom once a lead comes through.

 

Misleading Advertised Prices

Listings don’t always reflect the true price a dealer is willing to sell for. Some dealers advertise unrealistically low prices just to attract leads. This wastes buyers’ time.

 

Advertising Masquerading as Content

CarGurus creates blog posts and guides that read like objective advice but mainly aim to keep users active on their site. The content promotes CarGurus’ tools.

 

Lack of Direct Customer Service

CarGurus doesn’t provide phone, live chat, or email support. Users have to post in the community forums for help. This can be frustrating if an issue arises.

 

Using CarGurus as a Buyer

CarGurus aims to make the car buying process as seamless as possible for consumers. Here are some of the key features buyers can take advantage of on the platform:

 

Search Listings and Filters

The CarGurus marketplace contains millions of new and used car listings from both dealers and private sellers nationwide. You can search by make, model, price, features and more to narrow down options. Filters allow you to refine the search based on parameters like mileage, color, transmission type and seller location.

 

View Price Analysis Data

One of CarGurus’ unique offerings is proprietary valuation technology that determines the fair deal price for every vehicle listed. As a buyer, you can see this data to get a better sense of a car’s true value before negotiating with the seller.

 

Compare Vehicles

The CarGurus platform makes it easy to compare different vehicles side-by-side. You can view key specs, features, ratings and prices to find the best option for your needs and budget.

 

Connect with Sellers

When you find a listing you’re interested in, you can contact the seller directly through CarGurus with any questions and to arrange a test drive. This helps streamline the shopping process.

 

Get Pre-Approved Financing

Through CarGurus’ lending partnerships, buyers can get pre-qualified and pre-approved for auto loans right on the site. This gives you added negotiating leverage when it comes time to purchase.

 

Read Reviews

In addition to dealer ratings and reviews, CarGurus has a large database of vehicle reviews written by other users. These first-hand experiences can help you evaluate things like reliability, comfort and performance.

 

Selling Your Car on CarGurus

CarGurus provides an easy way for private sellers to list their vehicles and connect with interested buyers across the country. Here’s an overview of how to sell a car on CarGurus:

 

Create a Listing

Start by visiting CarGurus.com and clicking “Sell My Car” to begin creating your ad. You’ll need to provide key details like make, model, mileage, features, and of course, your asking price. The site will help determine a competitive value based on their analysis. You can enhance your listing with high-quality photos and a full description.

 

Enhance Visibility with Subscriptions

For an additional fee, CarGurus offers features to increase visibility, like highlighting your listing at the top of search results. This can help attract more prospective buyers. Sellers have options like a single featured listing or bulk packages for multiple cars.

 

Respond to Buyer Inquiries

As your ad gains exposure, interested buyers will contact you through CarGurus with questions and offers. You can promote transparency by sharing maintenance records or allowing test drives. Continue negotiations until reaching a deal.

 

Complete Sale and Pay Fees

Once you’ve agreed to a price and terms, complete the sale independently. This may involve exchanging payment, signing over the title, etc. Finally, pay CarGurus their flat listing fee. It’s only charged if and when your car sells successfully.

 

CarGurus Mobile Apps

In addition to the website, CarGurus offers free iOS and Android apps so car shoppers can search listings and tools on the go. The highly rated apps have the following key features:

 

  • Search inventory from thousands of dealers nationwide
  • Compare prices, mileage, features and more
  • View high-res photos and videos
  • Contact sellers directly from listings
  • Save favorite vehicles to track price changes
  • Get alerts when prices drop on vehicles you’re watching
  • Calculate estimated loan payments
  • Easily share interesting vehicle listings

 

With user-friendly navigation and intuitive design, the CarGurus app makes it simple to search local inventory, compare deals and connect with sellers whether you’re at home or on the go. Advanced features like price drop alerts help buyers jump on good deals at the right time. Overall, the app provides an extension of the tools that have made CarGurus a popular online car marketplace.

 

Alternatives to CarGurus

While CarGurus is one of the most popular online automotive marketplaces, it’s not the only option for buyers and sellers. Some key alternatives include:

 

AutoTrader

AutoTrader has been around since 1997 and offers the largest selection of vehicle listings online, with over 4.5 million cars, trucks and SUVs from 40,000+ dealers nationwide. Like CarGurus, you can search new and used inventory and compare pricing. AutoTrader also provides tools for sellers including free ad creation and display advertising.

 

TrueCar

TrueCar is focused on bringing transparency to car buying by showing what others paid for the same make and model vehicles. You can see average prices paid in your area and connect with TrueCar certified dealers. For sellers, TrueCar allows you to get an instant cash offer on your car.

 

eBay Motors

eBay Motors has been facilitating online vehicle sales since 2000. You can buy from both dealers and private parties. eBay’s buyer protection programs help assure a secure transaction. For sellers, eBay Motors provides an existing audience of shoppers and handles payment processing.

While CarGurus stands out with its unbiased vehicle ratings, price analysis tools, and focus on empowering consumers, some shoppers may prefer the selection of AutoTrader, transparency of TrueCar pricing, or the convenience of eBay Motors. CarGurus isn’t the only option, but remains one of the best online automotive marketplaces.

 

CarGurus Company Overview

CarGurus was founded in 2006 in Cambridge, Massachusetts by Langley Steinert. Steinert previously co-founded TripAdvisor, so he brought significant experience in the online automotive and travel space when launching CarGurus.

The company utilizes complex algorithms and data science to estimate the market value of vehicles, helping provide transparency around fair pricing for both buyers and sellers. This proprietary technology is known as the CarGurus Instant Market Value or IMV.

CarGurus has raised over $150 million in venture capital funding since its inception from investors such as Sequoia Capital, IVP, and NEA. The company had a very successful IPO in 2017, now trading on the NASDAQ under the ticker CARG.

Today, CarGurus employs over 1,000 people globally and has become one of the most visited online automotive marketplaces. Langley Steinert continues to serve as the CEO, leading the company’s vision to use unbiased data and technology to create a transparent online car shopping experience.

 

Conclusion

In summary, CarGurus offers a number of key benefits and advantages that have made it one of the most popular online automotive marketplaces.

For buyers, CarGurus provides the ability to search millions of listings in one place, compare prices and features across models, access unbiased ratings and reviews, estimate payments, and leverage data and tools to negotiate fair prices. This gives shoppers confidence in finding the right car at the right price.

For sellers, CarGurus offers access to a huge audience of motivated buyers, an easy listing process, and a transparent fee structure based on successfully selling your vehicle. You only pay when your car sells.

What has really set CarGurus apart is its commitment to complete transparency, unbiased information, and putting the consumer first. Advanced algorithms accurately determine fair market values, dealers are certified based on customer service, and user-generated content builds trust.

With its massive inventory searchable in one place and innovative tools and data to remove the guesswork from car shopping, CarGurus has become a go-to resource for buyers and sellers alike. The website’s dedication to empowering consumers with information makes it a platform built on trust.

 

Glossary

Here are some key terms related to CarGurus and online car buying:

 

CarGurus

A leading online automotive marketplace that connects buyers and sellers. CarGurus allows consumers to search listings and tools to make confident car shopping decisions.

 

Instant Market Value®

CarGurus’ proprietary algorithm that analyzes market data to determine a fair asking price for any vehicle.

 

Dealer Ratings

Consumer-generated ratings and reviews of car dealers on factors like customer service, pricing, and facility cleanliness.

 

Price Analysis

CarGurus’ pricing rating system (Great, Good, Fair, High, Overpriced) that helps buyers negotiate.

 

Certified Dealers

Top-rated dealerships recognized by CarGurus for exceptional customer service based on consumer ratings and reviews.

 

Listings

Vehicle sale ads from both dealers and private sellers posted on CarGurus.

 

Leads

Consumer inquiries to dealers generated through CarGurus that turn into sales opportunities.

 

Marketplace

CarGurus platform connecting car buyers and sellers for a seamless shopping experience.

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Questions About How CarGurus Works

Yes, CarGurus is available in Canada. It has an extensive inventory of new and used vehicles from dealerships across the country. Canadian users can search for vehicles by make, model, price, location and other parameters to find the right car for them.

CarGurus obtains Canadian car listings through partnerships with local dealerships. Dealers can list their inventory on CarGurus for free to gain more exposure. CarGurus also aggregates vehicle listings from various online classifieds sites and dealership websites in Canada to provide a comprehensive selection.

Some of the major Canadian cities covered by CarGurus include Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Ottawa, Edmonton, Mississauga, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Quebec City, Hamilton, and more. So whether you are looking for a car in a big city or small town, CarGurus can help you find options nearby.

Yes. One of the best features of CarGurus is its used car price analysis. The site provides the CarGurus Instant Market Value for used car listings, which shows the average price paid for similar vehicles to help give you a fair deal. This includes analysis of used cars listed in Canada to give Canadian shoppers accurate pricing info.



CarGurus features Canadian dealer ratings and reviews. After purchasing from a dealership found on CarGurus, shoppers can rate and write reviews about their experience dealing with the Canadian salespeople and staff. This helps future buyers evaluate which dealerships offer the best customer service.

Yes, CarGurus provides access to financing options for Canadian shoppers from lending partners like J.D. Power Valuations Canada. After selecting a vehicle, you can apply for auto loans or leases tailored to Canadian residents to help you pay for your new car.



CarGurus does provide listing options for private party sellers and dealerships selling cars in Canada. Sellers can create a free ad to promote their vehicle. For dealers and high-volume car sellers, CarGurus offers premium paid plans to gain maximum exposure to Canadian buyers browsing the site.

In addition to dealers and individual sellers listing directly on the site, CarGurus uses proprietary technology to find Canadian vehicle listings from thousands of classifieds websites, online car marketplaces, dealership sites and other sources all across Canada.

The CarGurus app is available to download for free for Apple and Android devices in Canada. Canadian users can access all the CarGurus inventory and shopping features through the convenient Canadian mobile app to search vehicles on the go.

CarGurus Canada strives to provide unbiased information to help shoppers negotiate fair prices. Listings from dealers and private sellers appear in search results based on relevancy, not who pays CarGurus. The price analysis tools also give objective valuation metrics for a transparent car buying process.

CarGurus itself does not handle shipping vehicles within Canada or over the Canadian border. However, many dealerships on CarGurus offer delivery services or vehicle transportation assistance at competitive rates. Canadian shoppers can also use independent auto transport brokers to coordinate shipping.



Yes, CarGurus features new car dealerships, used car dealers and private sellers located in every province and major city across Canada. Wherever you are located, CarGurus helps you access inventory from both local neighborhood dealers as well as nationwide dealer groups.

CarGurus currently does not directly process payments on its site. However, Canadian dealerships and private sellers on the platform may accept major credit cards, debit cards, bank transfers, cash and financing through third-party lenders for completing transactions.



While CarGurus itself does not handle trade-ins, their partner dealerships will gladly accept your old car. Canadian users can get estimated trade-in values before visiting dealerships to negotiate fair amounts towards their next vehicle purchase. This saves time assessing options.



CarGurus Canada does not currently have any special discount programs or shopper rewards. However, users may find dealers advertising rebates, incentives, sales events or coupon savings for Canadian customers on qualifying purchases made through CarGurus.

CarGurus specs refer to detailed vehicle specifications covering categories like engine, transmission, drivetrain, chassis, dimensions, brakes, suspension and more. These specs help Canadian shoppers compare cars and ensure the listings accurately reflect the configurations they need in their next vehicle.

No. To maintain trust and provide authentic consumer perspectives, dealerships are unable to edit or delete reviews from customers in Canada. CarGurus moderates all reviews and ratings for quality standards before publicly posting on Canadian dealer profiles.

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