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‏Ten Tips For Online Car Buying‏

‏Ten Tips For Online Car Buying‏‏Ten Tips For Online Car Buying‏
Published on
November 7, 2023

‏What To Expect From Online Car Buying‏

‏Have you ever bought a car the old-fashioned way? Typically, it would involve finding a vehicle you wanted either in car catalogs or by driving around to different dealers. Then you would have that awkward interaction nobody loves to have; the sales pitch. Once a decision was made you would sit in an office or a showroom talking numbers, and having credit checks for much longer than you expected before finally leaving with (hopefully) the vehicle you came there for.‏

‏When you buy a car online, you're alleviating a lot of extra stress that would otherwise cloud your judgment. You have to do a little more preparation, and of course, be wary of scams, but the reward is well worth the effort. There are no time constraints that usually impede a buyers judgment, no upsells, no lengthy discussion about a salesperson's family that likely doesn't exist, and maybe most importantly: any terms or haggling are usually made clear through email, so you have them right in front of you at all times. ‏

‏This can be a huge moment for you when shopping online for cars. It can also be a huge disappointment if you're not fully prepared or know what you're looking for. It's not as simple as buying a new soundbar online; especially if you buy from a private seller. To keep yourself safe, informed, and on the right track to finding the car you want, have a look at these tips for online car buying! (How to buy a car online)

1. ‏Do The Math‏

‏Start by figuring out the maximum you're willing to spend on vehicle expenses a month. This includes car payment, insurance, maintenance, gas (if applicable), and any other expenses you can factor in. You don't want to overlap other expenses such as rent, food, utilities, etc. Unless you don't mind living in the car, that is…‏

‏Note: insurance rates may change drastically depending on which car you decide to purchase. A WRX Impreza will have higher premiums than a KIA Soul.

2. ‏Know Your Car‏

‏Being thorough when researching which vehicle you want is imperative to find a happy ending in this story. You'll want to know everything about everything regarding your ideal car when you finally go to see it in person, so once you have a car in mind read about it. When you think you've read everything there is to read; keep reading.‏

‏Make sure the most important features are accounted for; for instance, if you have four kids a coupe will simply not be logical. Know the fuel economy, safety rating, and any other metrics that would influence your buying decision. If you’re buying a truck online be sure to note the bed size, towing capacity, and drivetrain (for those in snowy states).‏

3. ‏The Loan Ranger‏

‏If you can get approved for a loan through your bank, or credit agency then you will have an advantage over those that can't. You'll be much more comfortable financially, and you may even be able to get that WRX after all! Most dealers offer to finance, but the interest rate is typically going to be higher through the dealer than your bank.‏

4. ‏Shop Around‏

‏There's only one sure way to get the best possible deal for the car you're looking for. You have to look at many different inventories and compare pricing, compare mileage if you're looking at used cars online, and look specifically for deals that apply to you. Cashback offers, low-interest financing, or even discounts for veterans, first responders, and service workers like Lyft drivers.‏

5. ‏Begin Inquiring‏

‏If the dealer has an online sales team or sales manager contact them and ask about the vehicle you're interested in. If they are receptive to your request then be sure to attain the bottom line price once everything is consolidated. Tax, title, and any other fees that may apply will all count toward this number.‏

6. ‏This Is That Moment ‏

‏Test driving is the ‏ ‏one ‏ ‏thing that you’ll never want to forego. No matter who the dealer is, whether private or corporate, individual or business, you’ll always want to test drive the vehicle! If everything squares away, then sign on the dotted line, grab your complimentary pine tree freshener, and hit the road! ‏

‏Sometimes you may have the option to have the vehicle delivered to you. In this scenario, you'll likely complete most of the paperwork after the test drive or online, and the associate bringing the car to you will have a few things for you to sign. ‏

7. ‏Private Dealers?‏

‏Glad you asked! If you buy an older used car online that is being sold by a private seller (“private seller” just means “a person who isn’t a dealership”) you’ll have some extra things to watch out for. Not to say that all private dealers are going to rip you off, but it’s a market that is flooded with scams. ‏

‏Assuming everything is legit and there is no scam, you still have to be wary of other aspects such as the true condition of the vehicle, whether it has a salvage title, etc. A few of the more pressing concerns are listed below.‏

8. ‏Bring Your “Car Friend” Or A Cardboard Box‏

‏If you know little or nothing about cars and what should be checked when buying one, then definitely bring a friend or relative along who knows a few things so that they can verify the cars' worth for you. On the other hand, if you can change a tire, your oil, and maybe have changed a coil pack in your life, then you may be capable of assessing the value on your own. ‏

‏You’ll want to bring something to lay on when taking a look under the car.‏

9. ‏All Systems “Go”‏

‏The most vital things you want to check the condition of are the main components of the vehicle starting with the chassis (the frame). Just make sure there aren’t any big areas of thick rust. Surface rust is okay, but if you can flake it off with your hand, or you see holes where there shouldn’t be holes; that’s a deal-breaker. ‏

‏Check the color of the fluids, check the engine head for cracks, and make sure the fan kicks on. Any other aesthetic requirements are up to you, but those are the primary concerns.‏

10. ‏Scam Vigilant‏

‏Many buyers get taken by an unrealistic deal, or promises of added stipulations, etc. It's not too difficult to pinpoint when you're being scammed, so if you allowed one to follow through to the end, then you were not being vigilant. ‏

‏As a general rule, if it sounds too good to be true, then it is. No one will ever sell their BMW Z3 for $900. It’s just never going to happen. Don’t get excited when you see such things, because that’s how they get you. Know the reality.‏

‏Another rule to use is that if the seller has more answers than you have questions, without you needing to ask: it’s a scam. They’re trying to build your excitement with one hand so you don’t see the other hand reaching into your back pocket.‏

‏Never use any currency to pay online. Always complete transactions in person, preferably in cash. This means no PayPal, CashApp, Venmo, and never send checks or money orders. Those are red flags.‏

‏Call the dealer on the phone and make sure that they are real, and that they have a local phone number. Out-of-state numbers and those who can't speak a lick of English are red flags.‏

‏Most importantly, use your best judgment! If you feel your brain saying that something might be off, it probably is!‏

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