Should I Buy a Car Online?

Fran
Fran Majidi
January 22, 2020

For most people, the traditional car-buying experience is stressful and unpleasant, even when folks are buying the car of their dreams. Let’s face it, car salespeople are not exactly the most low-pressure people you’ll come across. Finding a car in your budget is often a game too, with the dealer pushing you beyond your max.

Some people love the idea of skipping the usual car purchasing experience and buying a car online. Already, many of us use the internet to do research on pricing, options, and resale value. Some of us even skip the various trips to dealerships by checking out each dealership’s inventory on their websites before testing out “the one.”

The most daring ones among us have done the complete car-buying process without ever leaving home. Tesla owners, for one, tend to buy online and have their Tesla Model 3 delivered to them. Elon Musk was a pioneer in making the car buying process a virtual one. And it’s caught on. Soon, most car dealerships will be just like the Tesla showrooms, where you can see the cars but purchasing will be done entirely online.

Can I Buy a Used Car Online?

Yes, you can even buy pre-owned cars online this way these days, complete with electronic signatures. What can be more hassle-free than to buy a car online and have it delivered to your door? The fact is that according to most studies people dread dealing with car salespeople. They also like to shop alone. It makes sense, therefore, that buying a car online has become so popular. (See reputable used-car online sellers in our list below.)

The Dealership Experience

Who doesn’t feel pushed, pulled and downright hassled when shopping for a car? Most people hate the process enough that car salesmen have gained a reputation as sharks. The fact is that you may go into a dealership with an idea of what you can afford to buy, but you’ll likely waste much of your time at the dealer trying to convince the salesperson to stick to a price range that falls in your budget. Numbers will be thrown at you to make you believe you can afford a car you simply shouldn’t consider. Maintenance plans will be pushed on you, even though it may be cheaper to take care of your oil changes elsewhere.

Who’s Buying Cars Online?

Even though some people are afraid to step away from the traditional method of buying a car, most Millennials and Gen Z will be buying their next car without ever stepping into a dealership. Buying a car online is quickly becoming the standard way of car shopping.

Pros and Cons of Buying Online

Buying a car from a dealership is not all bad news. The main upside of buying a car from a dealership is that there may be more wiggle-room to negotiate a price down from the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). However, there are fixed discounts when you shop for a car online that may not apply at a car dealership. 

You’ll have an online salesperson, but they won’t have as much flexibility as a salesperson in a dealership, who can go talk to a manager to bring down the asking price. Also, for folks with bad credit, you may be able to negotiate a way to buy and pay a dealer at a dealership, something you may not be able to do online, unless you do private party financing from a lender. Both of these options will be more expensive than a traditional car loan.

It’s always a good idea to get a pre-approved for a loan, preferably one with a lower interest rate than the manufacturer is offering. 

The Test Drive

When you start shopping for a car, you should keep in mind that you should visit a dealership or two to test drive the same model/make car you want, even if you plan to buy one online. You may feel differently about the car you have in mind after driving it.

The one reason many people are wary of buying a car online is because they are worried that they cannot test drive the car they buy. But usually, you are given that important opportunity, whether you have to drive to a specific location or if it’s brought to you for the test drive.

No two cars are the same. There’s nothing like getting behind the wheel of a vehicle that you plan to take home. Again, it’s important to drive the exact car you’re going to buy before you pay for it. This means more than just getting a feel for that model by driving another one. You may otherwise end up with a lemon.

Companies that Offer At-Home Test Drives

Some car companies offer at-home test drives, which is convenient for those with a busy schedule.

The following car companies offer at-home driving tests:

  • Hyundai
  • Porsche
  • Lincoln
  • Tesla
  • Lexus
  • Infiniti
  • Kia
  • CarMax offers test drives delivered to your home and work too, if you’re looking for a pre-owned vehicle. Just shop online and call and order a test-drive of a specific car if you’re serious about buying.

How Do I Safely Buy a Car Online?

First off, we have to tell you that the Amazon Car Shopping Scenario is fiction. Cars are not for sale on Amazon (yet, anyway) but you can research everything about the car(s) you’re considering on Amazon Vehicles.

Before having a car driven out to you, you should have a good grasp of what the car is worth, based on its make, model and year. Also, are there any special deals or incentives available to you? Also, remember the car-options. See how much each option costs, if you can so you’re not overcharged for them. Consider what insurance, registration, and taxes will cost and whether or not you can afford this vehicle.

Best Way to Buy a Car Online

Just visit one of these websites and begin browsing selections. Some of these companies will offer at-home driving tests while others may send you to a specific location to test drive your next car!

  1. Carmax
  2. Carfax
  3. CarGurus
  4. TrueCar
  5. Autotrader.com
  6. Carvana
  7. Cars.com
  8. eBay Motors
  9. Autolist
  10. Vroom

Compare Car Insurance Rates

Never settle for the first quote you get. It’s best to compare several options. The most efficient way to get the lowest car insurance rates is to go to SmartFinancial.com and let one agent do the shopping and comparing for you. There’s no reason to pay more for auto insurance than you need to.

Get a Free Auto Insurance Quote Online Now.

Related Articles

Auto Insurance How to Find the Most Affordable Car Insurance in Minnesota

The average car insurance policy in Minnesota is almost 12 percent less than national average. Being better than average is nice. But we bet Minnesotans can do even better on their car insurance.

Auto Insurance How to Find the Most Affordable Car Insurance in Michigan

Finding a bargain on car insurance in Michigan is going to be tough. Michigan has the most expensive car insurance rates in the whole country. We can help.

Looking for Auto Insurance?

Compare rates from dozens of companies in less than 3 minutes.