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Buying a Car Online Doesn't Mean What you May Think

-- 2011-05-11 1:05 am --

Have you ever bought a car online, or heard friends or family mention anything about buying one online? Have you ever dealt with the fleet manager or sales manager at a local dealer even if you were only buying one car? Chances are that if you have tried either of these methods, you did so in efforts to get a better deal. Oddly enough, “buying a car online” is essentially the same thing as negotiating with the fleet manager—you go directly to the gatekeeper who can offer discounted pricing due to their high volume of sales. Even if you’re just buying one car, wouldn’t you still want to get it at wholesale rather than retail (invoice rather than sticker)?

Buying online is not what you may think—it doesn’t involve you sending in money online and doesn’t involve your car getting delivered to your door like other online purchases—though a car can be bought like this if you really want to. Rather, buying online simply means that you utilize one of the many online car buying sites out there to do your research and to use their negotiating power to get a better deal. Once you find a deal you like online, the remaining transaction is carried out in the traditional manner—you pay for, and pick-up your car at the physical dealership.

So how does this all work? Simple. In essence, buying a car online is usually nothing more than getting some free quotes shown or emailed to you online, which you can either accept or reject. These quotes will be from local dealers, and right away these will usually be better than what you could get negotiating yourself. Of course you can try to negotiate some more off these quotes, but usually large auto sites such as Automotive.com and Cars.com (and others) will have a very good relationship with their new car dealers and you’ll be getting a quite a good deal if you’re referred through them. The point of online auto buying sites is threefold: get the buyer a better deal, create more sales for dealers, get commission from the dealers for referring buyers. It’s almost elegant in its simplicity, and can save the car buyer some serious hassles and travel.

Even if you prefer negotiating the deal and working the deal car face-to-face, you can still greatly benefit from looking up cars online. For example, say you were looking for a new Toyota Tacoma to buy, and you have 3 dealers in your area that you want to get prices from. Wouldn’t it make sense to simply go to Automotive.com’s 2011 Toyota Tacoma Prices Page, click “Get My Price!” and have the internet sales managers from these same local dealers send you a quote on the what’s the best they can do? You can follow up with them via email or phone, and just like that without having wasted any time or driven anywhere you now have a spread from 3 different quotes and have established a perfect starting point for your negotiations. For those that are timid and don’t like to negotiate, buying a car online is even better since they don’t have to spend any time physically going to the dealer and being subject to pushy sales techniques. Of course if you want to test drive a car you’ll have to visit the dealer, but test driving and then walking away is different than negotiating and walking away—less pressure.

If this sounds interesting, there’s many online car buying sites on the net you can visit, but only a handful or so of these are truly nationwide and have a well-developed dealer network. Also, many smaller sites will simply be affiliates or partners of the larger sites and will do nothing more than display their same car information. Here are some of the better car buying sites: Automotive.com, Cars.com, CarsDirect.com and AutoBytel.com