The Internet has transformed the business of buying a car, new or used, just as it has brought massive changes to many other facets of life. You can now potentially research, customize, and purchase a vehicle on the Web without seeing the physical automobile itself until you drive to the dealership to take delivery. However, using the Internet jointly with real-world test driving and inspection often yields the most positive results.
Starting Your Quest for a New Vehicle Online
Seeking out a car that’s a good fit for your driving needs and aesthetic tastes is much easier with the Internet in the equation. If you’re buying new, visit manufacturer websites and obtain reams of data on everything from gas mileage and internal space to features and accessories. Galleries of photographs show you how the vehicle looks in various available paint colors, and option packages are fully described.
Beyond this initial shopping phase, professional reviews offer a deeper dive into the details of promising-looking models. While not as carefully controlled or necessarily informed by as wide an experience of cars as the professionals, opinions and discussions about the auto on Web forums expands your insight further, letting you learn how comfortable, easy to drive, and reliable other ordinary drivers find the car.
Preparing for the Purchase
Once you have one or several candidates for your next car picked, visit local dealer websites to check their stock. Dealers may list vehicles on their site which they don’t actually have available on the lot, but you can spot these cars because the description includes no VIN number.
Before starting the actual negotiations, make an appointment and physically test drive the car, seeing if its reality keeps pace with your expectations. Avoid negotiating for the sale during your test drive. The dealership’s Internet sales department provides a hassle-free buying process with better deals than in-person haggling. Simply test the vehicle’s function and comfort during your test drive.
Once you’ve decided to make a purchase, use the Internet to ask several dealerships for their bids. You are likely to be quoted prices with authentically good markdowns due to the fact that approaching via the Internet sales department shows you have used online tools for research, and that trying to wrangle a higher price from you through a slick sales pitch is useless.
The Internet also gives you a handy outlet for selling your current vehicle to raise funds for purchasing the new one. eBay Motors, Craigslist, and other websites put your car in front of thousands of potential buyers, boosting your chance of a sale dramatically.
Online car value sites and tools such as the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and Kelley Blue Book enable determining an appropriate selling price for the car you’re retiring. If you want to maximize the amount of money recovered from your used car, selling to a third party (an individual or used car lot) generally yields more value than a dealership trade-in.
Since using dealership financing is rarely (if ever) to your advantage, your computer provides an avenue to conveniently set up a car loan at your local financial institution instead. Once you’re pre-approved, you’re ready to finalize the deal.
Used Car Purchases Online
The Internet allows you to find a wider selection of locally available used cars than word of mouth or driving around your neighborhood can provide. In this case, however, the used condition of the vehicles means that you need to examine them thoroughly in real life to determine how well they run, how much rust they have, how clean and well-maintained they are, and so forth.
Obtaining a CarFax report for the vehicle in question lets you assess how honest the seller is being with you when you compare the report to the actual paperwork and vehicle. Some differences will exist, since the CarFax report is not a perfect snapshot of the car’s condition and history. There should be broad agreement between report and reality, however, and its absence means that the seller may be concealing something.
Many of the same research and review methods usable for new cars also apply to setting up a used car purchase online. You can even find out the book value of the make, model, and year you’re thinking of purchasing to ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth. You should never pay above book value for a used car, and should aim instead at getting at least a small discount from the listed sum.