Q&A: Buying A Car

Consumer Correspondent Herb Weisbaum answers questions about buying cars online, and more.

Q:color> We hear a lot about shopping for cars online but are people really doing it?

A:color> Consumer Reports surveyed new car buyers and found that most of those who have Internet access used the Web for checking prices and gathering information. But fewer than one percent actually bought their cars online.

Q:color> We hear a lot about all these Web sites that promise to tell you how much dealers pay for cars so you'll have more leverage in your negotiations. Do they really work?

A:color> Actually, a new study by a top industry analyst found that those auto price Web sites frequently overestimate prices because they make mistakes, like charging extra for features that are included as standard equipment. The researchers got more accurate information by simply calling dealers.

Q:color> We couldn't help noticing that there isn't a single American car on Consumer Reports top picks list. How come?

A:color> Well, many of these foreign cars are actually built in America. But this is the first year no American manufacturer made the top picks list. Quite a few of them did well in the magazine's tests. But the reports they collect from owners show the American brands still have reliability problems.