Have Edmunds and Kelley become shills for the auto industry?

In the early days of these companies in web site form, they appeared to be on the side of the consumer, offering detailed information about invoice pricing, and later giving the “fair market value” of cars. They seemed very consumer oriented, although I know that Kelley Blue Book was long the “secret book” of auto dealers that consumers normally couldn’t get.

Since then, they have accepted advertising from the auto industry, and even offer for-sale listing from auto dealers, with comprehensive searches and so on.

Is there data now tilted to favor the auto dealers, such as showing you higher “fair market” prices if you want to buy, and lower trade-in appraisals if you want to trade or sell?

For up-front pricing, lists of features, etc., I prefer Intellichoice, which was one of the first services to offer information such as invoice price. They also will connect you with area dealers, but it’s at the back end of the website, not an in your face thing from the get-go that you have to navigate around. I don’t see advertising on the two sites you mentioned, but they do show available vehicles in your area.

Chefguy that’s good info, hadn’t heard of this site. But I see big banner ads right on the home pages of the two sites I mentioned. There are also two ads on the Intellichoice home page. I’m not sure what you’re looking at.

Since this may be a matter of opinion, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

I have Adblock. Free software that does an excellent job.

Since this is IMHO, take this for what it is worth.

Short answer is “yes”

Most of these sites or “services” get paid by the auto industry.

If you go to TrueCar, for example, (or any site that shows you nearby inventory), you will get “special pricing” from local dealers. If you BUY that car, truecar gets a cut. I don’t know the percentages, but it makes sense… How could they operate for free?

There is a LOT of fiction about automobile prices. I think one of the biggest is “dealer invoice”. If anyone believes that number is what the dealer actually paid for the car sitting on their lot, I have some swamp land in Florida for you to see!

Still, doing some research is more than most people do. And if you DO get a “great” deal on your car, you are most likely getting shafted on your trade.

Good point - does the dealer have any money in the inventory on the lot?

Does the dealer do a straight ‘buy and re-sell’ or does he provided the manufacturer with a market and just facilitate the transaction between the mfg and the [del]sucker[/del] “esteemed customer”?

This is analogous to the (old) TV network and the (independently owned) local station:
Which way does the money flow?
Do the stations pay for the programming, or do the networks pay for the audience for their advertisers?

Around here, the dealers base used car prices on the NADA guide. They won’t tell you this, of course. But once you start talking about the actual NADA price for a car, negotiations quickly wrap up one way or another.

Mentioning the NADA price is also a good way to stop an annoying salesperson from going on and on about KBB prices. Egad, those are worthless.

NADA is the National Auto Dealers Association. (Their headquarters are about a mile from my house. I drive by it a couple of times a week.) I presume that all their funding comes from their members, retail auto dealers. Why would they make data available to the customers that could conflict with the interests of the dealers?

That’s why I wonder if all these sites are just blowing smoke up our ass to make us think we’re learning some secret data when in fact the game is rigged to get us to pay more.

Consumer Reports also used to offer a service to the public to provide a full report of invoice prices for any car you wanted for $12. I used it once; don’t know if they still play in that space since the data is free now. They are truly independent, although as others have mentioned just knowing the invoice price is just part of the whole story. (I could never figure out where they got their data.)