Buying a new car online can be intimidating. 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 be. Security measures are put in place to make sure both car buyers and car dealerships are protected.
Buying a car online is now considered better compared to the traditional car-buying process. That’s because online research allows potential car buyers to look for car that suits their needs. This includes current car prices, nearby listings, home delivery, and many more.
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 things to keep in mind when buying a new car online.
Conduct your research
Just like buying a car in person, it’s important to do your research before purchasing a new car online. 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. 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 online works similarly to in-person buying especially with setting up a budget. You have to avoid going overboard otherwise you’ll compromise your monthly budget. For example, an economy car is a wise decision if you consider other costs like car insurance, fuel, etc.
Importantly, you have to know what car you can afford. If you have used vehicles that you want to sell or trade-in for a new car, that will help you a lot with the down payment for the car loan. Remember, a realistic budget is better than an optimistic mindset.
Make sure that the monthly payment for the car loan is only about 20% of your total income. Likewise, it’s best to place the additional costs such as parking expenses, tolls, and maintenance, among others, into the 20% budget.
Cars lose their value rapidly by almost 40% annually or about $3,000 a year on average. This is why you don’t want to get caught up in an expensive long-term loan as this will become a burden to you shortly.
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 have wanted it to be. 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 online, it’s best to visit the car manufacturer’s website 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.
Pre-qualify for a loan
Buying a car online can be intimidating and stressful especially when you reach the financing process. That’s because financing involves terms and rates that are often hard to understand and many car buyers don’t have the exact amount of money to buy a new vehicle.
This is why getting pre-approved for an auto loan could induce a lot of anxiety. With that said, credit unions and banks are some of your best financing options when buying a car online. So, why is it in your best interest to secure an auto loan online before you talk to the car dealer?
This is very important because when you secure a pre-approved loan, you can ask multiple dealers if they can offer the loan themselves instead of availing it from a different financier. This step also allows you to compare price quotes from different financing institutions and dealerships.
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.
Lastly, 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.
Plan for a visit to a local dealer
Do you have a particular 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.
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 do you want to buy including the reputation of the dealer.