Pros and Cons of Buying Your Next Car Online


We live in a world where most everything can be bought online—and that includes cars. But are cars something you should buy over the internet? Read on to find out!

What Does It Mean to Buy a Car Online?

To buy a car online means more than just shopping for a car online. It means the entire transaction is done over the internet. In other words, you pay online, do much of the paperwork digitally, and can even get the car delivered to your door. It’s like Amazon for cars.

Where can you buy cars online? Online marketplaces like CarMax and or even some car dealerships that publish their inventory online. But before you try, let’s go over the pros and cons of buying a car online:

Pros of Buying a Car Online

Let’s start with the benefits of buying a car online:

1. Access a better selection of cars

When you buy a car online, you get access to a much greater selection of vehicles. You’re no longer limited to only what your city has to offer. You can order from across the country. 

This allows you to be pickier with your choice. You can narrow down your car search with online filters till you find just the right car for you.

According to Tiger Okeley at online car dealership Oak Motors, “most dealerships today have a fair bit of detail and photos on each car in their inventory online, making it much easier to whittle down the list of cars you want to actually go and physically look at.”

2. Shop from the comfort of your home

Another benefit of buying a car online is that you get to do it from the comfort of your home. This means you won’t have salesmen who work on commission pressuring you to buy. You can shop on your own time and at your own pace in a low-pressure environment.

3. Save time

Shopping for a car in person can take a lot of time. You have to drive to a dealership, explore the cars they have available, go on test drives, sign paperwork, and more. If the dealership doesn’t have what you’re looking for, you have to do this all over again at another location.

By shopping for a car online, you can save countless hours that you would have spent in an in-person transaction. 

4. Get your car delivered to you

Buying a car online also means you could have the option to have the car delivered to your door. That saves you from making a trip to the dealership and picking it up yourself. It’s convenience at its finest.

Cons of Buying a Car Online

Of course, buying a car online comes with some downsides, too:

1. Limited test-driving

If you buy a car online, you may have limited test-driving options, especially if the seller is located somewhere far away. However, many online car sellers offer car return policies to help offset the risk to buyers, and some even provide test drives at your convenience by bringing the car to you and letting you test it out for 24 to 48 hours. 

2. Limited negotiation power

It’s also important to realize that when you buy a car online, your negotiation power is limited. The price is often set. For some, this may not be a downside. But for others, it could mean a missed opportunity to get a better deal by haggling for a lower price.

3. Limited inspections

Vehicle inspections allow you to check a car’s condition. But when you buy a car online, this is harder to do. You may get detailed photos and videos, but it’s not quite the same as seeing the car in person. That said, you can still look up online reviews and reliability ratings, and again, most sellers have some type of return policy should you not be satisfied with your purchase.

The Final Verdict

So should you buy your next car online? That depends on what you’re looking for in a transaction. If you want convenience, speed, and more selection, buying a car online could be the right choice. However, if you want to see and touch a car before you buy it, it may be better to buy it in person.

Alternatively, a hybrid method can provide the best of both worlds. You can shop for a car online and then once you’ve narrowed down your choice, go into a car dealership to make your final decision. Weigh the pros and cons and do what’s right for you!