Buying Online or at the Dealership

With cars becoming more and more available for purchase online, it can be hard to decide whether you want to purchase your car over the Internet or go the standard route by visiting a dealership.

Keep reading to learn more about each shopping option in order to make an informed decision.

Buying a Car Online

There are two ways to approach online car dealership shopping:

  • Direct online sales.
  • Dealership aggregators.

Direct from Dealer

Several dealerships now have online sales departments. The entire purpose of these teams is to sell cars to their website visitors.

To take advantage of this service, simply ask the dealership for a quote on the car you are interested in buying directly from their website. The dealership will e-mail you back with its offer. Some dealership websites even offer live chats with online salespeople.

You can also ask for the dealership to list out all the fees so you can get an exact sense of the total cost of the car. Go through this process with multiple dealers and you will be able to see who offers the best price without ever leaving your home.

Dealership Aggregators

Most of the big name online car marketplaces are considered dealership aggregators. Dealerships throughout the country use such sites to list their inventory.

Through these sites—such as—you can search for the car you want and find several results within your vicinity, or even throughout the country. With so many results at your disposal, comparing prices can be exceptionally easy.

Cons of Buying Online

Shopping online for the best deal on a new car and reducing your time at the dealership sounds ideal for most people. However, there are some instances when buying a car online can be more complicated. Here are some pitfalls to avoid:

  • Out-of-state dealerships. Buying a car out-of-state isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you should keep in mind that the car registration and titling process can be more complicated than if you were buying in your home state.
  • No test-driving. If the dealer with the best online price is too far for a trip, are you comfortable taking the risk of never having driven the car?

Buying at a Dealership

Online shopping is great, especially when you know exactly what car you want. However, when you don't know what car you want or prefer to test-drive different models and see how they feel, visiting a dealership in person might be a better option.

While car salespeople are stereotyped as being pushy, the truth is there are very knowledgeable salespeople who can be quite helpful if you need assistance evaluating different cars. They will answer your questions and have first-hand information on the cars they sell.

Don't forget the value of test-driving. When you are at the dealership, nothing beats getting to know a car more than a test-drive.

Cons of Buying at a Dealership

Before making the trip, consider these disadvantages of buying your car from a dealership:

  • Pushy salespeople. While it's unfair to call all car salespeople pushy, you might run into a dealer who will be aggressive in trying to sell you a car that isn't necessarily the best choice for you.
  • Difficult to comparison-shop. Traveling between dealers to compare cars and prices can be more difficult than making quick comparisons online.

The Right Option for You

The truth of the matter is buying online or at a dealership is going to depend on your shopping preference. Each has its pros and cons. Keep in mind that there is nothing stopping you from doing both!

Buying a car is a big deal. Using every resource available to you can help put you behind the wheel of the car you want at the price you want to pay.

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