You can buy practically anything off of the internet these days -- clothes, shoes, books, groceries, even a brand new car. When buying a new car online, you can pick the make and model you like best, figure out what color you like most or customize car accessories like leather seats, all from the comfort of your own home.
How to Search for a Car Online
First, you need to decide what kind of car you want to get. Decide whether you are looking for a sporty coupe or a family wagon, foreign or domestic. Check out the cars in the mall parking lot or talk with friends to see if they like the car that they currently drive. Pay attention to car commercials on TV or advertisements in magazines. In most cases, you will find a car that makes you say, “Oh, I like that.”
Once you’ve found a car you’re interested in, use your favorite search engine to research the car online. Most car dealership websites provide a photo gallery, a list of features, specs, models, and accessories available for that car and suggested base pricing. To find out more information about the car's safety rating, reliability or even its environmental impact, view popular and dependable websites such as Consumer Reports for more information. Pay special attention to customer reviews and comments, as this is another valuable resource to make sure you're not about to buy a lemon.
Now that you’ve found the car of your dreams, decide whether you’d like to purchase the car through a nationally recognized auto dealer or somewhere a little more local, like the dealership down the street. Plug in the year, make and model of the car plus your location in your favorite internet browser and see what websites pop up. Most likely you will find a website for a local dealership as well as those national chains.
Once you’ve chosen the car and where you’d like to purchase it, make the car your own. Now the fun part begins. You can choose everything from the type of package -- like sporty, limited edition -- to exterior/interior colors and features to accessories. All along the way, the website keeps track of an estimated total price so you have an idea of what to expect once building the car is complete.
Once you have an idea of the estimated price of your new car, do some comparison shopping to make sure you're not about to pay more than you have to. Go back to your list of local car dealerships and those national auto chains, and compare the same car package you just created with one from their lot and/or website. Most car dealerships provide a pricing request form you can fill out online. Once they receive it, someone will contact you and discuss pricing. Perhaps you'll be able to bargain with them for a lower price.
Now that you have your car completely picked out to your liking, it’s time to buy it. Most car dealer websites provide either an internet price, which is not the final selling price, or access to search local inventory for your chosen vehicle. Whichever option you choose, you must next provide your contact information as only a dealer can provide the final, selling price. Yes, in the end, you do have to go through a dealership to purchase the car however without the annoying hassle and haggling that usually comes with such a visit.
Need a loan? First, make sure you have a good credit rating and proof of income. Check your credit rating at websites like Experian. Compare the amount of a loan you qualify for and interest rates that you find from online lenders with those available at your local bank, credit union and/or car dealership. Choose the one that's the lowest, then choose the correct loan amount and payment plan. You may have to stop by the location where you are setting up the loan to sign the final paperwork. To save some money on your loan, it's helpful to have about 20 percent saved up towards the down payment of the car.
Susan Diranian is a writer for various online publications and magazines, specializing in relationships, health, fashion, beauty and fitness. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English with a concentration in nonfiction writing and editing.