Online car shopping has long been the norm, but buying a car completely online is a newer concept. Many online car dealers specialize in hassle-free online car buying – thanks to 2020, many automakers and dealerships do, too. But should you buy a car online?
Buying a Car Online Vs. Online Car Shopping
Online car shopping is a wonderful tool to use when you're looking for your next car loan. You can search for deals, research makes and models, and compare cars side-by-side. If you're in a good position creditwise, you can typically apply online for loan preapproval from a traditional lender like a bank or credit union.
But when you're just shopping for a vehicle online, at some point the process stops and you have to go into a dealership to test drive the car or finalize the paperwork.
Buying a car online, however, means the entire process is done electronically, virtually, and completely online from the first mouse click to until the vehicle shows up at delivery.
According to Alan Haig, an automotive retail consultant and President of Haig Partners, as told to ABC News, pre-pandemic online car sales only made up about 2% of sales, while nearly 30% of U.S. new car sales last year were completed online.
Pros and Cons of Online Car Buying
Naturally, when you're doing something online, there's a bit of inherent risk, but whether the cons outweigh the pros is up to you. There are both good and bad to most situations – car buying included.
If you're looking to buy a car completely online, here are a few things that make it worthwhile:
- Online car buying is convenient, saves time
- You may have broader shopping options
- Typically no-haggle shopping, set sale prices on cars
- No sales pressure
- Complete forms are your leisure
Of course, there are some downsides as well:
- No test drive
- No ability for a trusted mechanic to inspect
- Possible set vehicle prices
- Delivery could take longer depending on your situation.
Is Buying a Car Online Worth It?
Worth is in the eye of the beholder, and you need to look at your situation carefully before diving into online car buying headfirst. One of the major things to question before you decide to take the plunge is what recourse you have if the car doesn't live up to your expectations.
Some online car buying services may have a grace period you can use to decide if the vehicle is the right fit for you. Others don't. What happens if your car breaks down right away or turns out to be a lemon? Even in online car buying, your options depend on if you purchased a new or used vehicle.
New cars come with manufacturer warranties to protect you from issues that happen through no fault of your own. New cars themselves come with more peace of mind since you can be confident you’re the first owner. Additionally, lemon laws can offer more peace of mind to new-car shoppers.
If you're buying a used car online, though, you're not going to have the same level of protection. It's always recommended to take a used car to a certified mechanic for an inspection before signing any paperwork. This is not always an option in online car buying.
Ready To Find a Vehicle?
Whether you do your car buying completely online, or you patch together a process of online and in-person that works for you, working with the right dealership and lender for your situation is key to getting a better deal. Here at Auto Credit Express, we want to help point you in the right direction if you have bad credit. Fill out our fast, free auto loan request form to get started.