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How to Use Automotive Web Tools

How to Use Automotive Web Tools

By Jeff Youngs, February 24, 2012
When considering a new vehicle, many consumers visit the Internet as the first step in their shopping process. For many of them, an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) Web site is their first stop. According to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 NewAutoshopper.com Study,SM 59% of new-vehicle buyers visit at least one manufacturer site before buying a new vehicle, and most visit several manufacturer sites. While at an automaker's Web site, you will generally find two tools that are just as important to the new-vehicle purchase or leasing process as information gathered through independent magazines, newspaper articles, and independent model reviews: "build a vehicle" and "request a quote" tools.

Build a vehicle
Shoppers like choices, and vehicle manufacturers are happy to oblige. Unfortunately, with countless models and options available, narrowing your selection can be daunting. The "build a vehicle" feature allows you to build a car or truck to your exact specifications, view detailed pricing information, and calculate estimated purchase or lease payments. According to the New Autoshopper.com Study, while some shoppers already know which model they are looking for before going online, 80% of the group referred to as Automotive Internet Users are impacted in their vehicle selection by information found online.

The "build a vehicle" tool is simple to use. Choose a model from the manufacturer's lineup and decide which trim level (base, LS, XLT, etc.) you prefer. Then, pick your favorite exterior and interior colors. From that point forward, you can review all the available options and accessories. If you do not understand an option or technology, many OEM sites have detailed descriptions with images to help you. The entire process usually takes less than five minutes per vehicle, and you can "build" as many vehicles as you would like.

Building a vehicle online has several advantages. First, it allows you to view all the different colors, equipment, and drivetrain configurations that are available for a particular model. Second, it provides a clear breakdown of the base and option prices, to help you stay within your budget. Finally, you can view, print, and save your vehicle for later review or comparison.

Request a quote
After you have built a vehicle online, it is time to narrow down the dealership choices. Nearly all OEM sites have a "request a quote" feature that will send your customized configuration to one or more dealerships in your local area.

Requesting a quote online has several advantages. First, it is a convenient way to locate all the retailers in your geographic area. You can select your favorites based on proximity or past experience. Second, as dealerships are automatically contacted on your behalf, they will then contact you. Some will reply to your request via e-mail, while others may contact you by phone. The benefit of this is that you are allowed to decide which method you prefer. This is the first step toward building a relationship with a local retailer, which may help in getting the best deal and special service on your next vehicle purchase or lease.

The "build a vehicle" and "request a quote" tools are an important part of the buying process because they put you, the buyer, in control. They also help you identify exactly which vehicle and options you want, as well as secure pricing and financing information and establish a relationship with a dealership.
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