What are Some Tips for Car Shopping Online?

Some estimates suggest that nearly one in three cars is now purchased through an online transaction. Whether hunting for deals on auction sites or comparing details through complex interfaces on professional web pages, car shopping online can prove to be far less of a hassle than wandering through dealership after dealership or replying to newspaper ads. When car shopping online, comparison shopping and proper safety checks are vital to ensuring a genuine deal.

Always voracious advertisers, it's small wonder that many car dealers have made their way onto the Internet. There are many different types of online car websites, from Internet want ads to professional databases. As with any online transactions, do not give away personal information unless it is certain that the site is valid and offers some measure of customer protection. If a fraudulent site is discovered, report it to authorities without delay.

Internet want ads are one way to go car shopping online. Essentially online versions of traditional newspaper ads, these web pages will offer descriptions, asking price, and contact information for the seller. One major advantage of online ads as opposed to traditional ads is the ease of uploading pictures of the vehicle for potential buyers to examine. If purchasing a car from an online ad, take the vehicle to a trusted garage for a safety inspection before agreeing to purchase. Remember, person-to-person sales do not usually come with a warranty, so any troubles that arise after purchase are the new owner's responsibility.

Car dealerships may offer car shopping online for some used and new inventory. Checking out available stock online allows the customer to know if a trip to the dealership is worth the time and effort. Most dealers will have pictures and details of the cars, but customers will usually have to come in for test drives and to sign papers. Few allow direct online transactions, which can allow the customer to bargain the price down in person. Think of dealership websites as a means of winnowing down the list of dealers that should be visited.

Many websites exist that are essentially databases for available cars across the country. These allow the customers to do side-by-side comparisons of models, features, and even safety standards. Car shopping online may be supplemented by links to professional reviews and safety ratings, as well as comments by car owners. While these websites can seem a little overwhelming at first, they can truly help narrow down the field of cars based on specific personal preferences, budget, and location.

For customers who depend on bargaining skills to get a better deal, beware: many of these websites offer a flat price and no negotiation. This can be disappointing for those who dream of snagging a great deal through superior negotiation skills, but may be a relief for those who find the whole car-price system confusing and sneaky. For those who insist on being allowed to bargain, look for sites that compile lists of available cars from individual dealerships.

Car shopping online can be easy, fun, and result in great deals. It should be undertaken with some caution, however, as scams have certainly been known to exist. Before buying any car, insist on a proper safety inspection by an independent third party and carefully check current market values for the make and model chosen. By exerting common sense while car shopping online, smart buyers can easily save time, money, and stress.


Discuss this Article

Post 2

I found my last two cars online. Both have been great vehicles. In my opinion, it's always safer to use some kind of dealer, rather than a private buyer, for online sales. A classified ad in your local paper is something else. That's a face to face deal and usually someone who needs to sell a car for some personal reason.

Another benefit of shopping online is you can get an idea of what cars are available in your price range, and what you should be paying for a particular kind of car. You can see the range of prices for, say, a 2010 Ford Focus, depending on features and mileage. This will help you go into the transaction as an informed buyer.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?