How to Shop for a Car Online

Reader question:

I was thinking of buying a new car online. How do you do that?


Great question.

In this day and age everything needs to be faster, and many people don’t bother to leave their homes in order to buy things that in the old days it seemed necessary to see and touch first. People can even order their groceries online, instead of going around the corner to the grocery story to taste their apples before they put them in a sack and carried them away. So why not do the same with cars? The online section of the auto industry is booming, and has been growing steadily as technology infiltrates every subset of our society. Seventy percent of car buyers at least get their information about their purchase online and often get their loans there. But you can also buy your whole car over the internet and have it delivered to your front door, though most buyers choose not to get it that way.

There are three kinds of sites you’ll come across if you’re going to shop for your new car online.

  • Manufacturer’s site. Here you can find out all kinds of great information. You can find out about deals such as rebates as well as the set price of the car. Manufacturers also often have search engines where you can find a dealer near you who will give you the best price on the car. They can’t tell how much the car will actually cost, though, since they aren’t allowed to set prices.
  • Dealer sites. Here is where you can get in contact with separate dealers and negotiate the purchase of your car. Most of the communication is handled through email, though dealers are very wary of giving out prices if they aren’t sure of you and you might have to wait for it. Experience buyers report that haggling is much less effective in these situations, though. You can only save a couple hundred dollars, where normally you could save a couple thousand.
  • Others. These are places like Edmunds, where you can go to find out information about cars, buying tips, car reviews and so on. They also have links to dealer sites and can get you in contact with a dealer, where you might get a little more respect based on where you’re coming from.


Fashun Guadarrama.

About the Author:

Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."