Buying Online or at the Dealership

Pros and Cons of Buying a Car Online or at a Dealership

Some enjoy the pressure-free experience of car shopping from home, while others, for intuitive purposes, prefer face-to-face dialogue with a salesperson. There is no right or wrong for either option. Mainly it narrows down to personal preference.

Wherever you end up deciding to buy your car, whether it's new or used, both online car sales websites and dealerships can be utilized while you shop around. If you see a car you like online, you can visit a dealership to check it out in person and possibly take a test drive. Conversely, if you see a car that you like at a dealership, you can go online to look for a better deal or for a vehicle with the specific color, interior, or other options you are looking for.

On this page, you'll find some general pros and cons of buying a car online and buying a car at a dealership.

Buying a Car Online

Buying a car online can offer car shoppers with a convenient checkout and a nearly infinite range of options. However, just like any buying experience, online car shopping comes with a variety of pros and cons. You'll find some common ones below.

Online Advantages

Some advantages of buying a car online include:

  • No pressuring sales teams.
  • Internet preserves your identity, preventing salespeople from profiling.
  • Ability to scan numerous dealerships within minutes.
  • More conducive for comparative shopping, giving you more price, make, model, and color options.
  • No online closing hours.
  • Less time spent haggling over price.
  • No driving through traffic to visit dealerships.
  • Manufacturer websites allow you to customize colors and accessories with complete ease.

Online Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of buying a car online include:

  • You cannot complete a deal online. You must still visit the dealership in person.
  • Creates false confidence, making you less apt to spend time inspecting the car in person. Consequently, it's not until after the deal is sealed you might find fault with something like legroom, handling, or seat adjustments.
  • You must meet with a salesperson to get an exact price.
  • Prevents establishing a "gut feeling" for whom you're dealing with.

Buying a Car at a Dealership

Buying a car at a dealership comes with a variety of pros and cons too. Below, you'll find some common ones.

In-Person Advantages

Some advantages of buying a car in person at a dealership include:

  • Seeing a car in person provides more peace of mind with the decision process.
  • Immediate answers to all questions.
  • Easier to gauge if you feel comfortable with the dealership.
  • Easier to hammer out an exact price.

In-Person Disadvantages

Some disadvantages of buying a car at a dealership include:

  • Pressuring sales teams.
  • Must juggle your schedule to conform with dealership's operating hours.
  • Limits comparative shopping.
  • Must spend time and gas driving to various dealerships.

Other Things to Think About Before Buying

Along with the asking price of the vehicle you want to buy, you should also consider:

  • The state and local taxes you'll need to pay.
  • The cost of a new car insurance policy.
  • The DMV registration and titling fees you'll owe.
  • Any vehicle inspections you'll need to pay for.

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