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Car buying online vs. at a dealership Advertiser Disclosure Advertiser Disclosure We are an independent, advertising-supported comparison service. Our aim is to assist you make better financial decisions by offering you financial calculators and interactive tools, publishing original and objective content. This allows you to conduct research and compare information at no cost to help you make financial decisions with confidence. Bankrate has agreements with issuers, including but not restricted to, American Express, Bank of America, Capital One, Chase, Citi and Discover. How We Make Money The offers that appear on this site are from companies who pay us. This compensation could affect how and where products appear on the site, such as for instance, the order in which they be displayed within the listing categories in the event that they are not permitted by law for our mortgage or home equity products, as well as other products for home loans. However, this compensation will not influence the content we publish or the reviews that you read on this site. We do not contain the vast array of companies or financial deals that could be accessible to you.
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6 min read . Published October 28, 2022
Writen by Rebecca Betterton Written by Auto Loans Reporter
Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers in navigating the ins and outs of securely using loans to buy the car they want.
The edit was done by Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor
Rhys has been writing and editing for Bankrate from late 2021. They are dedicated to helping readers gain the confidence to control their finances by providing concise, well-studied and well-researched content that breaks down otherwise complex topics into manageable bites.
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Should I buy my new car online or from an auto dealer?
It depends on the type of experience you prefer. If you enjoy personal communication dealers are the best way to go. If you prefer to make purchases at home go online.
In the past, buying a car required a trip to your local dealership to pick your next set of wheels from the selection on the lot. However, now you can purchase cars from the comfort of home and in some cases , have the vehicles delivered. Both buying options come with benefits and drawbacks. Online buying comes with convenience and dealerships permit negotiations. Consider which is best for you before starting your shopping process. Car buying online or at a dealership. dealerships online
* More vehicle options Easy to compare cars Friendly customer service
* Price ranges that are more flexible Manufacturer incentives * Expert guidance
* No test drive * No negotiation * Potential extra fees
* Larger time commitment * More difficult to leave There are fewer vehicle options
The driver who likes shopping at home and would prefer to avoid any pressure from salespeople.
A driver who excels in negotiations and prefers the relationship to work in a dealership.
What to look out for
A purchase made without seeing it is an additional risk, so do some research on models to ensure you’re purchasing a reliable vehicle.
and inflated financing could undo any hard-fought negotiation. The pressure of additional demands can force you into a vehicle that doesn’t meet your needs.
Cars can be purchased online in the period of the pandemic, local dealerships started to offer alternatives. It gave customers the chance to check out available vehicles in the area prior to heading out on the road. While this remains a great option for shopping online, it does still require a dealership visit. Alternatively, other options for shopping that are more convenient have gained popularity since local retailers have moved online due to the sheer need. Online stores like CarMax, Shift and -just to mention a few — are enabling customers to shop and even arrange delivery or pickup from home. Benefits of purchasing cars online The primary advantages of purchasing the next vehicle online boil down to ease of purchase and online customer support. There are more options for vehicles at local dealerships. have a limited selection of vehicles available locally and, with the remaining supply chain problems, the selection is even slimmer. Shopping online offers a much greater number of vehicles to choose from. You can also search for specific models, makes and prices — all without the pressure of a salesperson over your shoulder. It is easier to compare cars with many vehicles to choose from, comparison is the key to . No matter how many notes you keep it’s difficult to really compare two vehicles at a dealer’s location in a side-by-side comparison. On the internet, you can evaluate the features and costs of all the cars that you’re considering. Friendly customer service when shopping at home doesn’t provide face-to-face assistance, shopping online provides excellent customer service, based on the business you deal with. Many online sellers, such as Carvana for instance, offer a chat function that allows customers to ask specific questions throughout the buying process. The disadvantages of buying cars online Although buying online a car has the convenience and ease of shopping from home, there are some significant negatives to take into consideration. There is no test drive when shopping online, you will not be able to see the car in person until the moment you’ve signed on the line. Without a chance to test drive, you could buy a vehicle that isn’t perfect. When you’re online shopping for a car, look for sellers that provide a return policy — like seven-day return period — so you don’t end up with a car you don’t want. There is no negotiation. Most online car platforms offer no-haggle price quotes. Now for those weary of , this can be an advantage. It also means you won’t be afforded any flexibility on cost. When shopping at traditional dealers, it’s likely you’ll be able to cut price by bargaining, but when you shop on the internet, the advertised price is the price you will pay. Additional fees that could be charged are unavoidable when it comes to car purchases, shopping online tends to carry some additional costs. If you opt to have your car delivered, for example you’ll need to pay an additional fee that can be as high as $1,000 or more on marketplaces like Vroom and Vroom, in addition to other handling costs which are usually avoided when working with an agent. If you are buying a vehicle at an auto dealership. Going to your local car dealer is the best choice when it comes time to purchase a used or new car. Dealerships specialize in certain vehicle brands, prices and vehicle types. However, they can have a negative reputation which is why it is important to research before making a decision. The purchase of a car in the present needs some consideration due to the the current price of new cars that are caused by supply chain issues and . Which, unfortunately, aren’t expected to reach normal levels until 2023’s spring. However you should be prepared to pay a bit more when you buy an entirely new vehicle directly from an auto dealer. Benefits of buying a vehicle at a dealership Taking the traditional route gives drivers the excitement of getting the most competitive price as well as the expertise of a salesperson. More flexible prices While the different from what you see advertised on the vehicle window, it’s likely that with negotiating skills, you can reduce the cost of the vehicle. This is not a benefit that is available to shoppers at the home. Manufacturer incentives Dealerships sometimes offer financing incentives to buyers or additional rebates provided by manufacturers to sweeten the buying experience them. Although not all of them are equal, many are a great way to increase your down payment , or provide you . Professional advice Nothing is as valuable as the personalized guidance that a sales associate familiar with the industry can provide. This is especially true if you are looking at different options for your vehicle like . In the midst of all the modern bells and whistles cars are now equipped with, it can be helpful to get someone to walk through the procedure. Disadvantages to buying a car in a dealership The amount of duration of buying an automobile can be a large time commitment, which can create headaches for buyers who are cautious So, consider the pros and cons of buying from a dealership. More time commitment when purchasing online you can close your laptop and have your car delivered within the next day, however buying at dealerships isn’t always effortless. You’ll need to block the time to go to the dealer lot and walk around the lot to look at different options, and finally talk to a salesperson. The entire process is stressful and often result in you not having the car you’ve always wanted. It is more difficult to leave the dealership salespeople are on hand to assist you with your car buying journey and having someone at your side throughout the entire process can be challenging if you are on the fence. It can also make walking away from a deal very difficult. If you’re not a strict shopper who can say no, consider the ease of the ability to shut down the website or “walk away” while shopping online. Fewer vehicle options Comparatively, dealerships have fewer options than online retailers. Commonly, dealerships sell one specific brand of vehicle. So if, for example you’ve got your sights at an Nissan but you only have a Ford dealer in the area purchasing online is a great method to look into other possibilities. What can you do to get the most bargain no matter where you purchase Regardless of where you intend to buy your next vehicle, there are a few fundamental guidelines to remember when it comes to driving off with the best deal possible. Stick to your budget. Cost should be the primary goal when buying a new car, but take advantage of a car loan to understand your expected monthly costs. Along with that consider the total cost of ownershipmaintenance and also included. Apply to be eligible for loan prequalification. Look out for lenders that provide this service, it’s a great option to lock in your expected monthly payments. Also, make sure that you can afford the car you want to purchase prior to signing. Shop the total amount, not the monthly payment. The , the less your monthly payments could be, however this is not always the best option since you could incur more interest over the long term. Understand your credit score. It is the primary factor in your ability to pay off your loan. Understanding this will place you in a better position to know whether you’re getting fair rates. Take a look. Shopping around is not only crucial when it comes down to automobiles, but is also essential in obtaining the ideal loan. It is suggested to research before agreeing to one. Make use of car buying apps. Make the most of technology, both at and off the dealer lot. These apps can enable you to evaluate vehicles and also provide you with real-time price estimates. Tips for Bankrate
If you’re looking for the best of both worlds think about contacting your local dealership over email ahead of time. Be sure to mention what you’re interested in as well as the timeframe for your purchase and inquire about any incentives that are available.
The bottom line is a satisfying easy experience that is stress-free, so the choice between an online store or dealership depends on the best fit for your requirements. If you prefer the guidance of a trusted sales associate and prefer to go with the traditional route. But if the thought of dealerships causes more stress than excitement, you might want to consider the easy online method.
Written by Auto Loans Reporter
Rebecca Betterton is the auto loans reporter for Bankrate. She specializes in assisting readers to navigate the ways and pitfalls of using loans to buy the car they want.
Editor: Rhys Subitch Edited by Auto loans editor
Rhys has been editing and writing for Bankrate since late 2021. They are dedicated to helping their readers gain the confidence to manage their finances through providing clear, well-researched data that is broken down complex subjects into digestible pieces.
Auto loans editor
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