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The Car Coach: Finding the best deal – Buying cars online vs. in person

Written By | Aug 22, 2020
Car Coach, Car Buying, Online, IN Person

Which is gives you the best choices and the best price? Should you buy inline or in person?

Online sales of cars have increased in popularity and this includes popular websites and apps like Carvana, Car Gurus, Vroom, and more. Buyers are being driven to other choices because many people don’t like the experience of shopping at a dealership, they prefer the convenience and the number-one reason people don’t like to walk into a dealership is that they don’t like the intimidation factor.

The number of consumers purchasing their next vehicle with a click of a mouse is increasing. Many car buyers still prefer the old method of car shopping in person or should you just go digital?

While you might be able to drive the car away from the dealership the same day, it typically takes at least an hour to get a deal. Negotiating at a dealership is more of a performance and there can be a lot of back and forth between the salesperson and their manager.  Dealers want your business and want to create a relationship for the purchase, maintenance, and return sales. They reward your loyalty and conquest from another dealer or brand.

Some people like the challenge of negotiating, but most people don’t. They don’t like the confrontation, they don’t want to be pressured, and they might not be sure what they want

Car buying online is more like window shopping to get your research before you go for a test drive or buy anything. I always say do your homework, so you know what to expect, sales consultants can not spout out every single detail, they are going to give you the highlights.

Read More from The Car Coach – Lauren Fix

More than 80 percent of people, research their vehicles online before they buy them. They also weigh in factors like, which cars you should consider buying and ones that don’t want. So it only makes sense that buyers are looking at their options.

The difference between Car Buying online vs in-person is mostly a difference in the shopping experience. You’ll need to test drive the car, and the end result, driving away in a car that you hopefully didn’t pay too much for, is the same either way.
Car Buying Online –
• Going online lets you take your time do your research, comparisons and bargain hunting at your own pace. It also lets you look over more vehicles more efficiently and do it outside the pressure cooker environment of a car dealership.
• You can compare prices more easily online. You can simply search for other cars that are the same make and model at multiple dealers across the country. They will ship you a vehicle from anywhere.
Car Buying In-person at a dealership –
• Car dealers have more options. You can get a wide range of extras at car dealers, many of which you can have installed right on the lot. They can offer maintenance and other extras at no extra charge.
• You can get answers to your questions. Whatever might be said about car salespeople, they are experts. If you have questions you can get answers on the spot.
• Dealership financing. Dealers have financing options that you can apply for when you get your car.
• Creating a business relationship is important when you need a loaner car and more.
Car Buying Online –
Going online takes longer. The flip-side is that you can’t just grab the car you want and drive away.
You don’t know who the seller is online. Car dealers also sell online, and you often don’t know who the seller is until you’re buying.
You can’t compare prices as accurately online. You can’t really see what kind of condition a car (used or pre-owned) is in if you just have a picture and a short description. This makes it harder to accurately compare prices online.
Car Buying In-person at a dealership –
Car dealers offer overpriced, unnecessary options. The extras come at a cost, and odds are you either don’t need them at all or they’re a lot cheaper to get elsewhere.
High-pressure sales. This is one of the biggest drawbacks of a dealership. If you can’t handle sales tactics well, you might walk away with something you don’t want.
There are pros and cons to each method of buying a car, and they largely balance themselves out. You shouldn’t buy without a test drive anyway, and so you will almost inevitably buy your car partly in person and partly online. It can be a good idea to get the advantages of each in order to find the optimal deal.
My advice:  If you want more advice and in-person support, going in-person to a dealer would be the way to go. If you are a tech-savvy buyer and feel comfortable purchasing a vehicle completely online, they can be ideal for you.

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Lauren Fix

Lauren Fix, The Car Coach®, is a nationally recognized automotive expert, analyst, author, and television host. A trusted car expert, Lauren provides an insider’s perspective on a wide range of automotive topics and aspects, energy, industry, consumer news and safety issues.