Buying Cars Online

Traditionally, shopping for and buying vehicles meant that you had to either search newspaper classified ads or show up at a dealership to look around the car lot. These days, the internet has broadened the availability of information about car buying and purchasing. Savvy consumers utilize these resources to find the best deal on the automobile that’s right for them.

Tips for buying a car online

Buying a car can be a complicated affair that raises many questions. When should you buy? What do you need to bring when you go to finalize the purchase? There’s no questioning the convenience of buying a car online, but is it easier? If you know what you’re doing, it certainly can be. Use these tips to make your online car buying experience as smooth as possible:

  • Research – One of the benefits of the online process is having your research and search tools in the same place. Figure out what kind of vehicle best fits your needs, then use site search parameters to lock in on the perfect car.
  • Test drive – Just because you are buying online doesn’t mean you can’t test drive your potential purchase. Ensure you go for a test drive to make sure everything is working as it should and keep notes of any issues you encounter.
  • Stir up competition – Shopping online opens you up to a wide array of options. If you have quotes on any of those options, let your seller know during the negotiation process. Getting a low price elsewhere could secure you an even lower price on the vehicle you are negotiating over.
  • Don’t be pressured – If you haven’t signed the dotted line yet, it’s not a done deal. Don’t allow a lengthy online search process to deter you from saying no when you meet the car in person. You should not tolerate last-minute price increases or previously unnoticed flaws in the car.1

Is it safe to buy a car online?

Buying anything online is riskier than buying it in person. While this is certainly no less true for cars, the popularity of online purchases has certainly made the process more reliable, with the more reputable online dealers at least. You will still see vehicles for sale in ads on sites like Facebook and Craigslist, however, it’s best to be especially cautious if you pursue any of these. While private listings may still be perfectly safe, the likelihood of finding a scam is much greater.2

Protecting yourself when buying a car online

One proven method to determine the authenticity of a sale and the integrity of a listed vehicle is to inspect and drive it yourself. Car shoppers should be wary of exchanging money online before seeing a vehicle or speaking with a seller. In some circumstances, you may purchase a vehicle from an auction without seeing it due to its distance from your location. In such cases, be certain to have as much contact with the seller as possible before the sale, and carefully review the auction site’s return and refund policy in the event of any fraudulent activities.

You can also look up a vehicle’s history online if you don’t have an opportunity to inspect it in person. The National Motor Vehicle Title Information System lists 16 approved providers of vehicle history data.3 If the vehicle you’re considering has had any salvage or total loss history that might make it unsafe, a vehicle history report from an NMVTIS-approved provider will be able to determine that.4

Protect your new purchase with auto insurance

Once you have found the perfect car, negotiated the right price, and finished jumping through every hoop of the purchase process, you’ll want to make sure your new wheels stick with you for the long run.

Nationwide offers flexible auto insurance designed to fit your specific needs. Get a free quote online or call 1-888-869-5727 and learn how the right auto insurance can protect you and your new purchase.