Everyone has a smartphone in their pocket these days and developers are busy creating apps for our every want and need. Wondering what to cook for dinner tonight? There’s a recipe app for that. Interested in getting more fit? There’s a workout app for that.
Not surprisingly, car buyers also have a bevy of mobile resources to help them in their search for a new set of wheels. If you’re looking for a new or used vehicle, apps can provide access to private seller and dealership listings, as well as tools for researching the right car and figuring how much your car loan will cost.
Best Car Buying Apps
Here’s our list of the best car buying apps on the market for Apple and Android users in Canada:
- Trovit Cars
- Consumer Reports Car Guide
- Car Buzz
- BRZO – Craigslist Classifieds
iOS | Android
AutoTRADER’s website is one of the most comprehensive online search tools for Canadian car buyers — and the app is even better. The company clearly invested in its mobile offering for users and it makes searching for new and used cars an absolute breeze.
You can search the ample vehicle database for free without signing up for an account. Searches are based on your location and can be as detailed or as broad as you’d like. Results include AutoTRADER’s pricing index info so you know if used vehicles are priced accurately by the seller. You can also fill up your “virtual garage” by saving vehicles that catch your eye while you’re scrolling.
iOS | Android
Carpages.ca is a mobile app designed for those looking for a used car in Canada. It has a sparse interface, but offers everything you need while searching for a vehicle. It’s free to use and you can jump right into a search from the load screen.
Pick the year, kind of car you’re looking for, make and model and away you go. You can also narrow down the options by transmission type and mileage. The Carpages app allows you to bookmark vehicles and the history tab allow you to look at your past searches. The vehicle listings provide as much info as the seller provides and you can message them within the app.
You can buy and sell just about anything on Kijiji and its popularity makes it a good place to look for used cars. It’s essentially an online classifieds section, so the quality of the ads and information about the posted vehicles will vary widely.
The app does give sellers the option of adding specs to their listing, which covers all the basics car details from make, model and colour to drivetrain and transmission.
Kijiji is free to use and you’ll get the most out of the app by signing up for an account (also free), which allows you to save favourite posts. There’s a pretty powerful instant messaging system integrated into the app that allows you to communicate directly with sellers.
CarGurus deals strictly in dealership vehicles for sale. It’s a great resource for comparing dealer pricing where you live so you can ensure you’re making the best purchase.
The app has some nice transparency features that identify authorized brand dealers and provide ratings for dealerships based on customer feedback — you can even read the reviews yourself to decide if the dealer is reputable.
The location-based search lets you look for an individual vehicle or browse nearby auto lots. On each ad, the app tells you if vehicles are listed above their suggested retail price and calculates your estimated monthly car loan payments.
Trovit is relatively new option for Canadian used car searchers (they also have separate real estate and job search apps). Instead of acting as an online classifieds platform, Trovit pulls used vehicle ads from thousands of different websites and collects them in one convenient location.
The app is free to use and has a sleek interface that only asks the basics: make, location, price, mileage and year. Pick as many or as few indicators as you’d like and it will start pulling applicable ads.
While you can’t contact sellers directly in the app, it does redirect you to the original posting where more information is usually available.
Used car shopping is a practice in buyer-beware warnings. While you want to give every private seller the benefit of the doubt, you never know who might be trying to make a quick buck by selling a lemon.
CARFAX is a trusted vehicle background checking service that now offers a mobile app. You can request a Vehicle History Report through the app by entering the driver’s license plate number or the car’s 17-digit vehicle identification number (or VIN) into the database.
The service isn’t free, however, and one CARFAX report will cost you $39.99. You can also search for used cars on the app, but it has limited range in Canada.
Consumer Reports Car Guide
How much are you actually going to spend on your new car? Yes, the sticker price is an important part of the calculation, but most people don’t have the cash to buy a car outright. If you’re going to be leasing or applying for a car loan you should have the Consumer Reports Car Guide app on the ready.
It has a free lease and loan calculator that helps you add up all the cost-related aspects of buying a new car so you won’t be surprised by your monthly payments. You can either plug in the price of an actual car or search their database to find the average selling price of a car your interested in.
Research is an important part of the car-buying process and Edmunds is one of the most trusted names in unbiased vehicle information.
The website’s powerful research features like expert reviews and user ratings are integrated all integrated into the easy-to-use app. You can search the database for info on your ideal ride, calculate loan and lease terms, find suggested retail prices and save research pieces for later review.
Unfortunately, the new and used car search tool is only available in the states so residents in the Great White North will find the shopping functions of the app sorely lacking. Still, it’s a great resource for information on hundreds of brands.
CarBuzz is designed primarily for car enthusiast with daily updates about industry news and new models. That said, if you’re looking for a brand new car it’s a good place to go for information on new releases.
The free app also has a car review section the can be narrowed down by make. It offers detailed overviews of new and old models complete with plenty of photos and information about interior and exterior craftsmanship, handling performance, fuel consumption and more.
The app’s buyer’s guide also allows you to research different car types by price range and includes all of the trim types available and has links to CarBuzz articles published on the vehicle.
iOS | Android
AutoApp.ca is a made-in-Canadian mobile tool for buyers in specific locations. It’s a plentiful resource if you live in Vancouver or Toronto, but doesn’t include postings in other cities.
It was originally developed for Chinese shoppers in those cities, but you can choose to search for cars in English as well. It’s free to use and includes a comprehensive search engine based on make, model and price; and also has an auto news section.
If you sign up for an account you can favourite posted cars and compare vehicles you’re interested in. The seller’s profile is also included in each posting so you can get an idea of who’s selling the car before you meet up for a test drive.
BRZO – Craigslist Classifieds
Craigslist is a well-known online classifieds website, but the company doesn’t have its own app. BRZO pulls information from the site that’s specific to car buyers and lists all of the vehicles posted to Craigslist in your area.
While it sounds like a great service, there is a catch: the app costs a hefty $9.99 to download and is only available for Apple users.
If avoiding Craigslist’s dated and confusing website and having the ability to craft custom searches and save ads specifically related to cars is valuable for you, then it might be worth the splurge. After all, you never know where you might find the best deal on your dream car.
iOS | Android
While not specifically related to car-buying, Mint is a great tool to help you save for that big purchase. The mobile friendly budgeting app connects directly to your bank account so you can automatically tracks your spending without having to deal with a cumbersome spreadsheet.
You can also set targets for big purchases, like a new car, so you can stay on top of your goals. The app allows you to customize your budget and gives you alerts when you’ve overspent. It uses data encryption technology that is on par with online services offered by major banks so your information is kept safe.
We included Mint in our blog post about online tools to help you buy a car, which you can read here.
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