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October 30, 2009

Green Car Buying on a Budget?

090902-money-car_artistic It seems that everyone we talk to is on a tighter budget these days, and most of them tell us watching their pennies has become more than just a hobby. It doesn't matter whether it's groceries, clothing, or gas, we're all looking for the best deal whenever possible.

So, what's the best way to shop for a car and ensure you're getting the best deal possible? Be an informed shopper! Get as much information as possible about the vehicle you are interested in, BEFORE you ever step foot onto a dealership! Be sure you know what features it has, so that you know what features you want and are willing to pay for. And read up on car reviews and blogs so you know what the pros -- and your peers -- are saying about it.

Thanks to the internet, it's much easier to get that kind of info without leaving your house or even making a phone call. All manufacturers provide "official" websites promoting their vehicles, with plenty of info and demonstrative photos that display the vehicle from every angle. And women can get plenty of car info from their peers by joining conversations in the AskPatty community at Carblabber.

Browse_by_type But beyond those, shoppers should search for plenty of insider information as well. I'm currently in the market for a new car, and hope to make a purchase in about six months. I'm on a tiny budget, and I'm looking for a small, fuel efficient car (once upon a time, I would have called that an econobox, but these days we use the words "budget" and "green" instead) so I stopped by the Car Buyer's Guide at  to see what's available for me. (By the way, if you happen to be shopping outside of my category, simply deselect the "Budget & Green" filter to see the other categories in the Car Buyer's Guide,  which include "Luxury," "Sedans & Wagons," "Sporty & Fun," or "Trucks, SUVs & Vans.")

If you know what you're looking for, finding info on a specific car is as easy as selecting a make and model. But if you're just browsing, the easy-to-use Car and Driver Car Buyer's Guide site  allows users to filter their selection based on a variety of choices: "Fuel Miser," "Price Range," "Most Researched," or "New This Month" to display a variety of selections. Clicking on "Editor's Choice" further reduces the list so that you're not overwhelmed by the number of options.

Vehicle_capsule Clicking on any of the vehicles presented allows the user to view an informative capsule that shares a short overview, a photo, a base price range as well as star rating and an opportunity to read more about the car. Below that are additional news and reviews about the vehicle, as well as a more detailed list of features and specs, and a tab that will allow you to price the car with its options.

The site has plenty of information available to help shoppers, regardless of whether you're browsing around in a segment or want to dig deeper to find out more about a specific car.  Check out  to be sure you're well informed before you head off to shop at the car dealer's lot!

Brandy_schaffels_s By Brandy Schaffels Editor

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