Car buying has come a long way since automobiles were first made available to the masses. Over time, drivers’ options in regard to available vehicles have increased and the methods of paying for vehicles has changed. While many facets of the car buying process have slowly evolved over time, one relatively recent change has had a dramatic effect on how motorists shop for their vehicles.
The internet has changed much about how products are bought and sold, and cars are no exception. A 2017 study from Root & Associates/CDK found that 53 percent of consumers said they were ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ likely to conduct an entire car purchase online. Some consumers feel there are advantages to buying vehicles online, but those who have never done so should keep a few pointers in mind as they shop for their next car or truck.
Comparison shop in person. Comparison shopping is a savvy move for consumers regardless of what they’re buying, and it can be especially beneficial to online car shoppers to begin doing so in person. According to the 2016 Beepi Consumer Automotive Index, 87 percent of Americans dislike something about car shopping at dealerships. In spite of that discomfort, visiting a dealership gives car buyers, even those who fully intend to buy online, a chance to test drive various vehicles and experience certain features for themselves. Buyers can then use these visits to inform their online buying decisions.
Focus your search on local dealerships. The internet has connected consumers to businesses on the other side of the globe and vice versa. While buyers might find great deals on cars being sold by dealerships hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, it’s often wiser to focus searches on local dealerships. Dealers often offer incentives like free loaner cars or service discounts, but those incentives only benefit buyers if they live in close proximity to the dealerships where they purchased their vehicles.
See the car in person. Looks can be deceiving, and that applies to vehicles being sold online as much as anything else. If possible, buyers should see a car in person before buying it. Buyers who have found a car they’re interested in should email the dealership that’s selling the vehicle to arrange a test drive. Emailing tends to be the favored way to communicate, as buyers may find themselves inundated with calls if they contact dealers over the phone. Buyers who cannot see a car in person but want to buy it anyway should familiarize themselves with return policies if the car does not meet their expectations upon delivery.