Buying a car can be a stressful experience full of high-pressure sales tactics — but it doesn’t have to be. Just as online shopping has changed the way we buy music, books, and so many other things, you can shop online for your new car. And shopping online means you get a better price, you don’t have to deal with pushy salesmen, and you don’t have to drive from car lot to car lot to comparison shop — in short, it takes a lot of the hassle out of finding and buying a car.
Researching online leaves you prepared to buy
If you walk onto a car lot, you may not know what the market value of the vehicles on offer is beyond the sticker price — but if you shop online, you can easily compare prices on cars at multiple dealers in the area, so you’ll know when you’re getting a good deal. There’s also no digital sales pitch you’re forced to listen to: browsing a dealership online means you can look at your leisure without being pressured to buy today.
And because there’s no sales pitch happening online, you tend to get low-hassle pricing that’s closer to the car’s actual value than if you walked into a dealership where a sales associate expects you’ll haggle over price. Calling or emailing your dealer for a price quote is likely to get you the quote you want without the wasting time on a sales pitch.
The downside of buying online
Buying a car is a big financial commitment, and it isn’t one you want to make without a chance to check out the vehicle yourself. No matter how much research you’ve done online, nothing can beat the ability to sit in the drivers seat and take the car for a spin to tell if it’s going to be a good fit for you — and that’s something that internet shopping just can’t offer.
A visit to the car lot to see potential vehicles is crucial to selecting the perfect car for you — but unfortunately, that same visit isn’t the best way to buy, as it’s likely to result in you paying more. Even if you want to buy in person, we recommend using the internet to research and get price quotes from dealers before you ever set foot on a lot — this way you’re informed enough to know when you’re not getting a decent deal from the salesman and can hold firm on a fair price. However, instead of dealing with haggling, you could take that same test drive and then go online to buy.
Just how do I buy a car online?
The actual process of buying online is simpler than you might think. Once you’ve found the car of your dreams, just call or email the dealership for a price quote and an out-the-door cost, which typically includes tax, title, and a documents fee, so you know exactly what you’ll be paying. You can shop around at other dealers and get price quotes as well — and see if they’ll match or beat competitor’s prices.
If you’re not sure you’re getting a good deal, look up the value of the car at Edmund’s or Kelley Blue Book — if it’s close to the listed market value on either site, you’re getting a reasonable deal. If not, you can always make an offer closer to the value and see what the dealership says — while dealerships typically quote better prices to internet buyers, asking may be all it takes to get an even lower price.
Once you’ve worked out a price you can live with, you can even request the dealer deliver the car to your home or office — when they come by with the car, they’ll have all the paperwork to seal the deal immediately. But if delivery isn’t available — it may not be if your home is particularly far from the dealership or you want your car on a busy weekend — you can set up a time to go to the dealership to fill out the paperwork and drive off with your new car.
Regardless of how you pick up your new ride, be sure to thoroughly inspect it before you sign on the dotted line to be sure you’re getting exactly what you’re paying for.