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The Smart Car Buyer’s Guide On How To Buy A Car Online

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Buying a new car can be intimidating. Have you asked yourself, how can I buy a car online? The internet has changed the way we live and how we conduct our businesses. With a little research and preparation, you can get a great deal on your new car.

The online car buying process has greatly evolved over the past years. Today, it no longer works like the leap of faith that it used to. Security measures are put in place to make sure both car buyers and car dealerships are protected.

When you buy a car online, it’s now considered better compared to the traditional car-buying process.

That’s because online research allows potential car buyers to look for a car that suits their needs. This includes current car prices, nearby listings, home delivery, and many more.

Even better, this works for a new or used car. As a result, you’ll only have the option to visit the local dealership if you want to test drive the actual vehicle. To help you get the best deal, here are a few simple steps on how to buy a car online.

Do your research

Just like buying a car in person, it’s important to do your research before you sign the new car purchase online. In any vehicle purchase, you have to consider what your specific needs are. For example, if you have a big family, a large SUV might be the perfect car for you.

Likewise, you also need to consider the vehicle’s fuel consumption, maintenance costs, other automotive expenses, or ground clearance for off-road uses if you love going camping on the weekends. Never focus on the purchase price alone.

Check for safety features, tech offerings, and reviews as well. These will help you find the perfect match for your needs and wants. You should also compare similar models from different brands before settling on a car.

After you assess your needs, you can browse online to search for available units.

You can also compare different models, makes, and prices from different dealerships, and read customer reviews. To get the best price, there are online comparison tools available for you to look at. Likewise, don’t ignore the other important details such as horsepower, cargo space, warranties, safety ratings, etc.

Set a budget

Buying a car online works similarly to in-person buying especially with setting up a budget. You have to avoid going overboard otherwise you’ll compromise your finances.

To do this, you need to take into account the vehicle’s depreciation rate, fuel efficiency, and other running costs. You should also have an emergency fund in case of any repairs or maintenance concerns.

According to experts, it’s best to keep your car budget at 20% of your monthly income. So, if you’re earning $5,000 monthly, your car budget shouldn’t exceed $1,000.

Get pre-approved for financing

If you’re planning to get a loan for your new car purchase from a financial institution, it’s best to get pre-approved first. This is will help you negotiate a better car price for a specific car.

Likewise, when you already have a preapproved car loan, you won’t have to worry about the dealership’s in-house financing options. These can be more expensive and offer fewer benefits.

To get pre-approved for a car loan, approach your bank or credit union first. They will usually require some documents such as your proof of income, employment history, and credit report.

Get a vehicle history report

When buying a car online, you should also request a vehicle history report. This should be part of your car research. This will give you an idea of the car’s maintenance records, accidents, and other important information.

Some dealerships offer this for free while others might charge a small fee. You can also get one yourself by requesting the car’s VIN number.

Plan for the delivery

Once you’ve found the perfect car, it’s time to plan for vehicle delivery. If you’re buying from a local dealership, you can just drive there to get your new car.

However, when you buy a car online, you might have to pay for shipping. But don’t worry, most dealerships offer free shipping if you’re buying from them.

To make sure that everything goes smoothly, it’s best to coordinate with the dealership first. Ask about their policies and process so you know what to expect.

Take your time

When you buy a car online, you might feel pressured to make a decision quickly. But don’t worry, you can take your time. Remember, buying a car is a big financial decision so don’t ever pressure yourself because of the sales pitch.

If you need more time to think about it, you can always request a 24-hour test drive. This way, you can experience the car first before making a decision.

Buying a car online is convenient and easy. But as with anything else, there are risks involved.

Look for the best car deals

Preparedness is an essential part of your car buying process. Once you understand what you want and how well you can afford the car, your online buying process will become smoother.

Unfortunately, looking for the best car deals is one of the most neglected parts of the car buying process. For example, there are instances where a manufacturer would bring a new car to the market but that particular model won’t sell as they wanted it to.

Car dealers would have a big surplus on that car which often lead them to offer special deals. This is also similar to cars from previous years. You should know about these scenarios in advance because local dealerships sometimes give cashback, subsidized leases or sales, and other special deals.

When buying a vehicle online, it’s best to visit the manufacturer websites to look for incentives. But make sure to include your ZIP code because there are factory-to-dealer incentives available in specific areas.

Lastly, you can explore other incentives that are in place for special customers like Uber/Lyft drivers, military veterans, fresh graduates, or first responders.

Talk to online sales managers

Talking to internet sales managers is the best place to get started when car buying over the internet. Car dealerships have implemented online sales departments to increase their profits exponentially.

These professionals are very knowledgeable and they are focused on steering clients in the right direction. In addition, talking to an internet sales manager is less intimidating than in person and you can do it anywhere.

Email interactions also provide written records like trade-in offers from the dealership, financial APR, and the manufacturer’s suggested retail price of the existing vehicle.

Negotiating online eliminates the hassle of doing the transaction during business hours and an early evaluation will give you time to find another deal elsewhere if you’re not satisfied with their offer.

In addition, you can also check with multiple auto-buying websites and get multiple quotes at the same time. This will give you an idea of how much you should be paying for the car you want to buy.

Plan for a visit to a local dealer

Do you have a specific car in mind? Then, planning a visit to a car dealer will help you get the feel of the actual car. Once you’re there, avoid getting intimidated by sales pitches or explaining that you’ve done your assignment with securing a loan.

A visit to the car dealer is the closest you’ll ever be with the car that you want. Another important thing is don’t test drive the high-end model if you’re only planning on buying the basic one.

On the other hand, renting the exact car is a good alternative. This will give you the chance to test the actual vehicle for a few days. Renting offers a better experience than most dealerships can offer if you want a thorough test drive.

Avoid dealer add ons

Every sales associate will offer you add ons like extended warranties, insurance, security systems, after-market accessories, paint protection, window tints, etc. You have to avoid these little extras as much as possible as this will significantly affect your ability to fulfill your monthly payment.

However, if you want to add something, it’s best to read the documents and learn about them in advance including their total cost.

Have the car delivered

Once you completed the negotiation, your online car buying experience is not complete without the delivery. For the most part, make sure you understand the details from the negotiated price, the vehicle’s trade-in value, etc.

Since we’re talking about online car buying, most dealerships offer an option if you want the car delivered directly to your home or office. Furthermore, almost every transaction today can be done electronically including the paperwork and digital signatures.

In Conclusion

Buying a car online lessens the legwork of face-to-face negotiations. Moreover, online car shopping is much more convenient. However, you need to consider these steps to get the best deal possible.

There are countless ways to buy a car online, however, you need to take extra measures to avoid getting scammed. Lastly, be aware of the old bait and switch tactics and make sure you know exactly what car you want to buy including the reputation of the dealer.
Are you excited to test drive your new car and see if it’s the right fit for you? We offer a comprehensive car inventory that’s suited for many car buyers. Whether you want to buy the car or lease it, we’re here to help.

About Marcus The Car Guy

I've been in car sales and finance for over 20 years, working at the highest volume dealerships in the nation including Fletcher Jones, DCH and more. Want to pick my brain on finding cars, negotiating cars, and structuring car deals?

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