Is there an easy way to buy a used car online? Well, yes and no. Yes, because there are many options to help you buy a used car online. No, because there are things you need to be prepared to handle if you’re planning to buy a used car online.
That said, buying a used car online is a good idea, despite the preparations that you do have to make to make your transaction as smooth as possible. Already, you have a wide variety of options on the table, when it comes to shopping online for a used car. That includes using search engines to being your search and settling on one of the many used car listing sites to find a private seller who’s looking to sell a car that you might want.
Ways you can buy a used car online
As mentioned, there are many ways you can buy a used car online. To start, look online—obviously. After that, you need to start looking for the type of car that you want to buy. When you search online, you don’t have to just look for cars in your price range—you can find cars in your price range that you actually want. That’s the beauty of buying online.
So, once you have that settled, start looking through the many sites that have used cars for sale. When you look for used cars, you have the choice of going through three different types of sellers:
- Authorized dealer – Typically sells certified and pre-owned (used) cars, though has a limited selection with higher prices at times.
- Independent dealer – Usually sells used cars at more affordable prices with flexible financing options, though may have a smaller selection and questionable reputation.
- Private dealer – Usually sells used cars at a less inflated price with room for negotiation, but often sells used cars in ‘as-is’ condition with an unknown reputation.
As seen here, from this list of dealers, you’d probably be better off with selecting an independent dealer, since they have more budget-friendly prices and flexible financing options. You may have to check out customer impressions before siding with an independent dealer, though.
The safest option is likely an authorized dealer, just based on reputation alone. And, while private dealers may have a dubious reputation, some people end up finding the car of their dreams through such transactions, so they shouldn’t be completely ruled out.
Should you stay local when you buy a used car online?
A lot of people think that they have to stay local when they buy a used car online. While it’s tempting to order a car from across the country that fits what you’re looking for, you also have to think about the costs. As in, the costs to ship a car from, let’s say the east coast to the west coast.
That’s why it’s usually a better idea to buy online, and then test drive the car locally. In fact, you should never buy a used car based on photos alone, since it’s highly likely the car that you’ll eventually encounter… won’t be the car that’s represented in the photos.
Many online used car ‘marketplaces’ make it easy for local buyers to find local sellers. All you need to do is search for the car you want locally and hopefully find a seller who’s willing to part with that particular car. It doesn’t really take any time to take care of that.
If you feel like you’re taking too long to find a car, don’t worry. Buying a used car isn’t a race—just remember that. If you take your time, you’ll eventually find the car of your dreams.