Buying a Car Online
Wednesday, January 2, 2013
Around 50% of people use the internet to research car models and prices, and between 20% and 30% of eventual buyers buy their vehicles online. Like any other form of online shopping, there are benefits and risks and specific tips that can make online car buying safer.
Advantages of Buying a Car Online:
- Official online dealers tend to earn commission on the number of cars sold, instead of on the price at which they sell them, so the buyer does not have to struggle through an aggressive and time-consuming sales pitch and end up paying a higher price. It can thus save them time and money and help them avoid the unpleasantness of the sales process.
- Since it is so much easier and quicker for buyers to consult with online dealers, each dealer knows that he is only one of many with whom the potential buyer is communicating. Online dealers are hence under more pressure to give the best deal as quickly as possible, rather than lose the sale to a competitor.
- Instead of visiting several dealers and test-driving all affordable models, the buyer can speed up the process by researching affordable models from the comfort of their homes and then visiting their local dealer to test-drive their chosen one or two models.
Risks of Buying a Car Online and Tips to Minimize Them:
- Choose a reputable online dealer. For new cars, these include Cars4U.com, BestPriceExpress.ca or CarCostCanada.com, and for used cars autotrader.ca AutoNet.ca, but the web does have dealers that have good reputations. Investigate what others have written about your preferred dealer, and search through the standard scam alert websites to ensure that it is not listed. For the same reason, do not allow a seller to suggest that the sale is moved off a reputable site onto his own personal website or through his email address only. Reputable dealers collect the buyer’s money and guarantee that all the necessary documentation is submitted by the seller before they let him have the payment.
- Ask the seller for the car’s vehicle identification number, from which you can obtain a Carfax report on its history and general condition, whether it has been in accidents, former odometer readings, and so forth. If the seller refuses to provide this, move on.
- Even if you are not planning to see the vehicle in person, ask the seller if you may see it. If he refuses or if he makes excuses for why this would not be possible, rather search elsewhere.
- Pay the extra $100 to get the car examined by a certified mechanic. It is better to spend a small sum of money now than to discover serious technical problems later.
- Question the price by researching the car’s market value. Cars.com, Edmunds.com and CarCostCanada.ca, among others, are good for the prices of new cars, while Kelley Blue Book is the industry standard for used cars.
- Pay with your credit card. Credit card companies usually help consumers to get money back from fraudulent dealers.
Buying a car online can save a lot of time and money, and like with any other form of online shopping, the buyer can act to minimize the potential risks.