These websites help prepare you for buying a car

By Reid Kanaley The Philadelphia Inquirer

Car buying, the other great American pastime, is experiencing a resurgence. The work of auto shopping, along with the pesky issue of selling or trading an old car, can be simplified with these sites.

Keys to car buying. HowStuffWorks does a good job of prepping car buyers and sellers on the importance of being well-informed on “stuff” like the validity of auto manufacturers’ “green car” claims and how not to get snookered in making a deal.

Unfortunately, in the world of car trading, very little can be taken at face value. You have to look under the hood — literally and figuratively — to see what’s really there, and how badly it may be leaking. bit.ly/I4qx5m.

This HowStuffWorks page covers used-car buying, with advice to “snap out of your reverie,” to make a sober choice that you won’t regret. Topics covered include online car buying and avoiding the purchase of a lemon instead of your perfect cream puff. bit.ly/7ekWnb.

What it’s worth: New or used, knowing what a car is worth can be tricky. Best to run the numbers on a couple of sites to get a realistic price tag. The Kelley Blue Book site provides a page where you can choose among searches for “What should I pay for a new car?” “What’s my current car worth?” and “What should I pay for a used car.”

In the case of used cars, the quality of the answers is based on your ZIP code and the accuracy of your assessments of your jalopy’s condition and options. www.kbb.com/car-values.

Check your results against a similar calculation at Edmunds.com. This link is to the site’s area for appraising a used car. Again, your vehicle could be worth more, or less, based on where you live and, of course, its age and condition. Being accurate and realistic are keys to success. www.edmunds.com/appraisal.

Android car shopping: Blogger Ed Rhee at CNet.com has a handy list of Android smartphone applications for car shoppers, including the app versions of Kelley Blue Book and Edmunds. Most of those mentioned here are also available for Apple devices. Using them can put power in your hand while you are standing on the dealer’s lot. bit.ly/HYfLQ6.