How to Buy a Car Online
How to Buy a Car Online
Over the past twenty years or so, it has become apparent that the Internet is truly the ultimate shopping mall of them all. Thanks to companies like Amazon, the online space has become the firm favorite for shoppers looking for just about any product you’d care to think of. One item that many believed to be exceptional from the online revolution, however, is cars. Even as main street stores everywhere were being closed down by the voracious appetites for online shoppers, car dealerships were always thought immune.
Changing Times: Buying a Car Online
This belief is now being seriously tested as a whole raft of online car sales platforms have arrived and are now thriving. Among the best known are Carvana with its unique “car vending machine” concept, as well as CarMax, Cars.com and many others. Whether you’re looking for new or used cars, you can find what you want online.
But after so long of everyone assuming that online car sales would never become mainstream, what has changed?
- The COVID-19 pandemic has made people more wary about shopping in the public space, including for cars.
- Online platforms have built-in conditions like 7-days return policy that allows you to keep the “test drive” principle alive before confirming your purchase.
- You can order your car online and it will be delivered to your door. They’ll even usually take away your trade-in at the same time.
- Better-quality high-resolution images make seeing your target car much more of a meaningful experience, not to mention video walk-arounds and demonstrations of the car.
- Millennials are soon to be kings of the car-buying farmyard, and they don’t like negotiating with salespeople. Online purchasing takes that element out of the equation.
Step 1: Search the Selection
The first step is to set your search parameters and start your search for your dream car. Online platforms typically allow you to search for very specific things like brand, model, year, trim level, engine size, transmission type and more.
The best thing to do when shopping online is focus on your practical needs. Online selections (especially for used cars) are very diverse and you might surprise yourself if you don’t limit yourself to one specific model. Even if you are set on one brand, leave yourself open to explore all the available models in the range.
Step 2: Configure Your Vehicle
If you’re buying a new car, then you’ll have to select from the various options to configure the car to the right specification. These are usually presented as a step-by-step process, typically starting with the exterior color, wheels, engine size, etc. and then moving on to interior choices like upholstery, technology additions, and so on.
With brand-new cars, there is sometimes a necessity to visit the dealership to collect and finalize your purchase. In this sense, it isn’t a true “fully online” experience, so we won’t dwell on it too much. The best thing is you can complete most of the steps online and still sidestep the more annoying steps of dealership like negotiation. In the end, you just need to go in to sign papers and confirm details before driving your car away.
Step 3: Explore Finance Options
Once you’ve selected and configured the car as you want it, it’s time to explore finance options. Most online platforms offer car financing for both new and used sales, and even leases. You should choose the package that suits your needs best. If you want to own the car outright as soon as possible, then paying in full is best. If you want to spread the cost and gain full ownership gradually, then a car loan is needed.
If you choose leasing, remember that you will be paying for a car but not really gaining any equity in it unless you opt to make the final balloon payment. If you are looking online for a car to use in the short-term, then something like a two-year lease can be ideal.
Step 4: Add the “Trade-in” Factor (If Applicable)
Finance options secured, there’s one more factor to add, and that’s your “trade-in.” If you have an old car that you’re trading in as part of the deal, then its value has to be added in to the equation. This will invariably bring your total sale price and monthly payments down a notch, especially if the trade-in is a luxury brand or relatively new model that has not depreciated too much.
Step 5: Service and Protect Your Toyota
Since many cars sold online are used cars, some may be without their original manufacturer’s warranty. For this reason, the buying platform will offer a pre-owned warranty to help seal the deal. If you drive a lot or you are worried that you wouldn’t be able to pay for any sudden expensive maintenance or repairs, then this warranty option is a good idea.
Step 6: Explore the Bonus Extras
Most online platforms will try to upsell by offering add-ons and additional related products and services. Car buying is no different. In fact, the servicing and protection packages are the first of these extras. After that, they may offer you some accessories to go with your purchase: floor mats, seat covers, dashboard accessories, cargo net, dash-mounted smartphone holders, and so the list goes on.
Since you often save a lot of money purchasing a car online, you can use some of the savings to accessorize and enhance your in-car experience.
Step 7: Finalize
The final step will involve lots of confirmations. First you have to confirm your financing options and payment of a deposit. After that, you’ll need to confirm your home address for delivery, as well as additional details for the collection of your trade-in vehicle if you are doing that.
Make sure you run through all the details in the summary you are given. While you can always return a car if there is a mistake or something else is wrong, you should take the time to double and triple check everything. Even though you’re buying online, a car remains a more significant and serious purchase than a quick and frivolous Amazon purchase.
Finally – The Waiting Game
Once everything is confirmed and submitted, all you need to do is wait the allotted time for your car to be delivered. It normally can be completed with a week or so, but it depends on your exact location. Some providers may require you pick up the car from a specific location, like one of Carvana’s “vending machines,” but most will do their best to get you home delivery, sometimes employing a third-party in your local area to make it happen.
Join the revolution and see for yourself how online shopping now firmly includes cars as well as just about everything else.