At the end of this month, after nearly 16 years of mostly good service (not all with me, I might add), my pride and joy will be meeting its maker. Yes, my beloved Pug is about to become a keyring. Since I'm far too lazy to walk anywhere, I need a new car. Help me, Auto Trader! See Best Android Apps.
I've been so preoccupied with the idea of running this car into the ground that I haven't stopped to think about what type of car with which I should replace it. Now I'm a bit stuck. I'm pinning all hope on the Auto Trader mobile app for Android tablets and smartphones coming to my rescue. See Official eBay Android app review.
Auto Trader lists the UK's largest collection of secondhand cars and bikes; it's available in print, online and now in mobile form. The app enables you to quickly search the full listings on a smartphone or tablet, with an interface optimised for small screens. You can also create a free account in which to store vehicles for later viewing on that device or another PC. With this configured, you simply swipe from left to right to open your Garage and compare the cars parked within. See Android Advisor.
When you first fire up the app, you can choose to search cars or bikes, sign in or run a vehicle check for any car or bike registered in the UK. The latter is handy if you've found a vehicle that takes your fancy, but first want to check its background history. You'll be told its original colour and any changes, the engine size, the year of manufacture, the date it was first registered, any keeper changes, whether it's been imported, stolen or had its plates changed, the fuel type, engine number, make and model, the condition and whether it's ever been registered as scrapped.
It's not free, mind, so you should use the feature only if you're serious about buying the vehicle. Auto Trader offers a single vehicle check for £19.99, or five for £24.99.
Since I had no idea what car I wanted to buy, let alone had a particular vehicle in mind, I skipped the Vehicle Check and went straight to Search Cars. You can enter your postcode or use your current location to find cars for sale within a certain distance, then filter the results by make, model and price. Advanced search options include the fuel, body and transmission type, mileage, age, colour, number of doors and engine size, and you can even specify whether you want to view only private or trade listings, and enter keywords.
I set the price range between £500 and £3,000, and looked for all cars within 40 miles of my postcode. Auto Trader returned 17,099 vehicles. Back to the drawing board, then.
Of course, if you have a particular make or model in mind, the app can be very useful. You can further filter the results based on the lowest or highest price, the distance, mileage and age. And when you've found a car you like, you can check its specification, read user reviews and view a gallery of photos. You can also get directions to its location, call the owner directly from the app, or head to the dealer site (where applicable). And then there's the vehicle check, if you're really keen.
Several user reviews complain that no vans are listed in the app. Another minor gripe is that it isn't possible to zoom in on images in the Gallery - a problem for small screens. And Auto Trader misses a trick by not allowing you to list your car for sale from within the app.