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The smartphone way to dive into the used car market

<p>A wise sage once opined that, “Knowledge is power.” This promptedanother sage to suggest that such power is best used to make otherpeople feel stupid.<br /> </p>

A wise sage once opined that, “Knowledge is power.” This prompted another sage to suggest that such power is best used to make other people feel stupid.


True enough.


But perhaps you’re in the market for a used car. In that case, you’re probably more interested in obtaining knowledge, to transform yourself into a powerful superhero, one able to leap into a great used vehicle, at a really great price, all in a single bound.


We now have a new Canadian company, vehiclegateway.com, to help us bulk up on used vehicle expertise and muscle — and through our cellphones no less.


But company spokesperson, Peter Davies, told me not to think of it as an app.


“In my opinion it’s superior to an app,” said Davies. “It requires no downloading. All you have to do is go to vehiclegateway.com on your Blackberry, iPhone, or any phone with browser capability, and you are presented with a mobile version of the site.”


Vehiclegateway.com is similar to sites like AutoTrader and Autonet, which offer lots of vehicles for sale, from both dealers and private sellers.


But vehiclegateway.com will differentiate itself from the pack, says Davies, by being the first to combine several crucial elements such as cellphone accessibility, free listings for private sellers, an increased level of information on each specific vehicle, a special section devoted to vehicles that fall under the automakers’ certified programs and the first Canadian used vehicle site to offer a link to obtain vehicle history reports from CARFAX.


The cellphone access will purportedly help your negotiating position. Davies tells me to picture myself on a used car lot, contemplating a nice shiny ride. How do I know if the price is fair? By punching the year and model of the vehicle into vehiclegateway.com, and asking it to generate an “average price” for all such vehicles currently listed there.


It’s up to you then, whether you shove the cellphone screen into the seller’s face, or sign the papers.


While sites like Kijiji and Craigslist also offer free listings for private sellers, Davies notes they are not geared specifically for automotive buyers, and both have their share of unscrupulous sellers.


“People are scared of buying a lemon,” adds Davies. He hopes his site “will help remove some of the apprehension associated with buying used.”


It will do that, according to Davies, by asking sellers to fill out a detailed vehicle questionnaire on each vehicle listed.


While sellers are still on the honour system, Davies believes it should weed out sellers who are prone to hyperbole, and allow buyers to narrow their search.


Another apprehension squasher will be the CARFAX vehicle history reports (available for an extra fee).


Like carproof.com, it can reveal how many times the vehicle has changed hands and when, where it’s been licensed, and if it has incurred any insurance claims for accident damage.


All this information technology is wonderful, but I would still caution that buyers get a trust-worthy mechanic to get all touchy-feely with any used vehicle they’re ready to pounce on.
Any used vehicle will need work. The extent of work needed is what you want to establish — it’s your superhuman right to know.



– Michael Goetz has been writing about cars and editing automotive publications for more than 20 years. He lives in Toronto with his family and a neglected 1967 Jaguar E-type.

 
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