Buying a car completely online is still a very new experience for most people because even just 10 years ago, it was mostly unheard of. But if you’re just not too good at the art of deal making or aren’t sure how to avoid certain sales gimmicks, buying online may actually be right for you. But it will have a set of new challenges you should be aware of, so keep these five tips in mind when you car shop online.
1. Decide Whether To Use A Local Dealership That Sells Online Or A Completely Online Car Marketplace
Some car dealerships have both in-person and online buying options, and offer a low pressure experience through their online experience. But there are some purely online car marketplace platforms that have other advantages and disadvantages you can work with. Things like price negotiation, test driving, financing, delivery and walk away options can differ greatly depending on which platform you use. So consider researching these factors on potential online car buying platforms.
2. Carefully Use Online Car Value Resources
Whether you get to negotiate the car price or not, it’s important to know if you’re paying a good market value for it. There’s resources like the Kelly Blue Book, Carfax, and Edmunds that can give you an overview of market prices for various models based on year and mileage as well as car history. You can use the blue book value as a bit of a baseline for negotiations if you’re going to be negotiating the price online.
3. Look At Many Car Financing Options Online
You can go through different lender websites whether they’re banks, credit unions or online lenders to see what your pre-approved financing amount and interest rates are, and then see if the place you’re buying from can offer better terms. You still want to look at other terms such as down payment minimums, the length of your financing term and prepayment or refinancing options. But coming in with your best financing terms in hand already can help you set the budget for monthly car payments.
4. Know What Your Test Driving Options Are
If you’re buying through a local dealership online, you can usually work out a test drive time either at the dealership or in some cases at your own home or place of work. Some online only car sales platforms do offer test drive options such as through a local showroom, or as part of the delivery experience. But some have limited or no test drive options, so be make sure you check on that with the place you buy from.
5. Do Your Research On The Return Policy
Usually online only car sales platforms have return options that allow you to return the vehicle and get a full refund if you do so within a certain amount of days. If you go this route, it’s a good idea to take the vehicle to a trusted mechanic for a complete inspection to make sure everything is all right. You also may be able to do a trade in if you have an older vehicle, although it can be a little more difficult to do this with online only places.
Always remember that even with quicker online car shopping, it’s still important to do a lot of research and get the most important questions answered prior going all in on shopping. It also pays to look at user reviews of online car marketplaces to see what you should expect for your experience. But all in all, car shopping online usually works out great for those who want to do it their way on their time.