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Simple Guide to Buying Cars Online

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Simple Guide to Buying Cars Online
Simple Guide to Buying Cars Online

The internet has revolutionized many industries, and selling cars is one of them. Clients no longer need hours or days to inspect different vehicles at different dealers. You no longer have to negotiate the price. You can now check out many more cars from your home than you can do face to face. You also don’t have to leave your home for a big part of purchasing process.

Buying cars online vs. in person

There are strong reasons why you may want to buy a vehicle over the internet instead of using traditional methods. Negotiations are rarely pleasant, and most steps involved in buying a car can be done just as well if not better online.

The final part of actually picking up the car is still needed in most cases. You’ll likely want to do a test run if you’re buying a second hand vehicle. However, if you’re buying something brand new, you may already know what to expect.

Some dealers will offer to bring the car to you. Even the paperwork can be completed online and signed with electronic signatures.

Companies like Tesla are already adopting this model and many are soon to follow given the global situation. When you go to a Tesla retailer, you’re actually visiting a showroom. Buying the vehicle is done at home or at a kiosk. The price is straightforward and cannot be negotiated. If you want to use this model for your next automobile purchase, here’s how you can do it.

Decide how much you’re willing to spend

There are a few things every buyer should do before visiting a dealership’s website. The first and most important of these actions is deciding on a budget.

You may be able to sort vehicles in a dealership’s site by price. It’s good to use this option, so you won’t be tempted by vehicles you can’t afford.

Instead of just checking if you can handle the monthly payment, it may be better to check the vehicle’s total cost too. If you’re taking a loan, how much will the interest add up to? What about fuel, parking, maintenance, and insurance?

If you have other loans you’re currently paying, you may want to check how much longer these will last. Insurance costs differ according to the model you’re planning to buy. Since this is a decision which can have long lasting ramifications, it’s best to consider it carefully.

Having a loan preapproved

Unless you have enough savings for a vehicle, you’ll need a loan. Until a bank representative confirms you can get said loan, it’s best to postpone checking out dealerships.

Dealers will have their own offers, but it’s good to have a loan you can rely on already, so you can compare. It will also help you set up a budget.

Online, getting such a loan is much easier. Instead of visiting lenders or banks, you can obtain multiple offers through a single website.

What car model are you looking for?

While some people have a clear picture of what they want in a car, other may not. While it can be better to test a vehicle on the road, having someone constantly praising it nearby may make it difficult to get a clear picture of what you’re buying.

On the other hand, the data you can find online is usually clear and concise. If you’re not sure if a leather interior or a higher acceleration is what you’re looking for, you can check reviews for other people’s take on that model. There are entire websites dedicated to reviewing cars, so there is plenty of useful information at your disposal.

Look for deals

Just because the car is excellent, it doesn’t guarantee a rapid sale. In some cases, the maker’s expectations aren’t met, so the company will release various incentives to increase the number of customers.

If you’ve decided on a model, you can search for deals online. You may find the model you’re looking for at a lower price or the interest on the loan may be removed. The monthly payment or the amount you need to pay when signing the papers may be lower.

Check several dealers

You used to have no other choice but to physically go from one dealer to another, then listen to long presentations to get a feel for what they’re selling. You now need a fraction of the time to go online and check every dealership in your neighborhood.

You have access to both new and used automobiles, and can even extend your search nationwide. Furthermore, this search can be conducted during a lunch break, while having breakfast, in your bed with a laptop, etc.

If the car you’re looking for is not in stock, you can call or email them to see if it will be added soon. When customers request certain features, colors, or models, it’s not uncommon for dealers to exchange stock with others.

Speak to sales managers online

After confirming the car you want is in stock, you can speak to a sales manager for more details. You’ll find him/her just as capable as those you’d speak to at a local dealership. Even more, there’s less of a chance of them trying to haggle online. By the time you speak to the manager, you’ll already know what you want, so there’s no point in him/her dragging things out.

During your first interaction, you should let him know what model you’re interested in, so you can then learn if it’s in stock or if the company can obtain it. If he brings up trade-ins or financing, you can answer vaguely. It’s best to focus on the vehicle’s price instead of bringing other things into the discussion.

If you want to buy a used vehicle, request its history report from the dealer. You’ll need to check if it’s been through repairs or accidents. You can also use the VIN to obtain a report online.

No need to negotiate face to face

If you’re uncomfortable with confronting a car dealer face to face, web sales can be an excellent alternative. Furthermore, you don’t have to sacrifice your ability to negotiate either.

You should still be able to haggle, but you’ll do it over email instead. This will give you more time to think about your next move, and you’ll also have a detailed paper trail that may be useful later.

You don’t need to negotiate during your work hours, and there’s no need to hurry. One thing to remember is that after you pitch a price, you won’t be able to lower it further. Similarly, the seller cannot raise the price they offer.

Another advantage of using the online medium is the emotional distance. You should view your purchase just like any other transaction. If you get swept up by the sales pitch, you may pay more than necessary.

Instead, you can use the best offer you’ve received from one dealer as a base line when speaking with others. If you let them know what the competition offered, they may be more likely to lower their prices.

After the negotiation is concluded, your remaining tasks are minimal. All you have to do is take your new vehicle for a test drive and sign the paperwork.

The test drive

Because vehicles may have differences even if they just rolled out of the factory, it’s advisable you take the test drive in the car you want to buy. If you’re purchasing a used automobile, it’s best to have it verified by a mechanic. If the car is certified, it won’t be necessary.

Some dealers may offer to bring your car to you for the test drive. If you’d like to reduce the time expenditure and contact with the dealership, this can be the best option. You’ll also be able to drive it in your neighborhood and see how well it handles on the local roads.

Sign the documents and receive your vehicle

Most likely, you’ll have to go to the dealership to sign the paperwork. However, times are changing, so there may be more and more companies which allow you to sign electronically. If they can also deliver your car, you may not have to leave your home at all.

If you’re not getting the loan from the dealership, ask what documents you need to present from your lender. If you do have to go to the dealership at this final stage, make sure you have everything you’ll need, so you won’t have to make several trips.

Don’t sign any papers until you’ve read them fully. If the price is different or one of the things you’ve agreed on was modified, do not sign anything. If you’re willing to walk away, it’s highly likely the seller will give in. If not, you can always find another dealer.

Most likely, the dealer will present various add-ons, such as gap insurance, extended warranties, etc. It’s best not to buy anything until you’ve done some research. You may be able to find these add-ons elsewhere at a lower price. For example, you can get an extended warranty from an insurance company or from a lender. Until you know who can provide the best option, it’s best to refrain from making a decision.


Joe Webster
Written By:Joe Webster
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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

With over 30 years experience in the industry, we've been helping people ship their vehicles, motorcycles, RV's, heavy equipment, household goods and more across the country or overseas without a hitch. Ask us anything.

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