Why You Should Buy Your Next Car Online
NEW YORK (MainStreet With the average age of cars on the road climbing to a record high of 11.4 years, many Americans may soon find themselves on the market for a new car. If you're one of those people, fall is a good time to shop, when the latest car models begin arriving at dealerships nationwide. Whether you want a brand new model, a discount on last year's inventory or a reliable and affordable used car, setting foot on the lot is usually the hardest part.
According to Google, we spend an average of 18 hours researching cars online before heading to a dealer. In the past decade, more and more people have taken the leap to purchasing that car online as well. And that's a good thing. Online car shopping has made prices more transparent, meaning consumers are getting a better deal.
If you're considering taking that route, here are a few tips to maximize the experience:
1. The Test Drive
No one wants to buy a car sight unseen, but test-driving a car usually means dealing with pushy sales people. Instead of visiting the lot, try renting your car of choice instead. Keep it for a few days so you can truly test it out, rather than just going for a quick spin around the block.
2. Comparison Shopping
One of the biggest benefits of shopping online is comparing prices to make sure you're getting a good deal. Certain websites help make that process even easier. For used cars, AutoTempest.com compiles search results across multiple online car buying sites, from Carsdirect.com to eBay. For new cars, TrueCar.com clearly displays their prices in comparison to the average dealer in your area as well as MSRP. And Edmunds.com pits dealers against each other to compete for your business, allowing you to compare actual offers from the comfort of your own home.
3. Negotiating a Good Deal
Buying a car online isn't the same as ordering socks from Amazon. Negotiating the price is still part of the process. Shoppers who hate haggling in person may find that doing so online, via email, is far less painful. In fact, the entire process can be done anonymously if you prefer, through a car-buying site called CarWoo.com. CarWoo lets you decide when to release your contact information to the dealer.
Regardless of when you plan to purchase your next car, beginning the research process sooner rather than later is a good idea. Familiarize yourself with these tools so that when the time comes you'll be prepared to buy your next car on your own terms. Perhaps even online.
--Written by Lauren Lyons Cole for MainStreet