Purchasing a Car Online

1/6/2002

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Now, from the comfort of your home or office, you can make a complete car purchase on the Internet. According to a study done by J.D. Power and Associates, 62 percent of all new vehicle buyers are turning to the Internet for shopping information. Most go to the web before visiting a dealer. Consumers can now make comparisons, get price quotes from dealers, obtain insurance and extended warranties, and even handle financing -- all online. The Better Business Bureau offers the following tips to help make your online car buying experience a satisfactory one:

  • First, do some comparison-shopping. Make sure to include as many similar vehicles as possible. There are several online resources that will allow you to compare different styles and models, evaluate prices and option packages.

  • Get at least two price quotes online, and if you want to make further comparisons, get at least two price quotes offline.

  • When considering price, do not forget to calculate tax, title and licensing fees into the vehicle price. The amount will vary based on your state and locality of residence.

  • If you are comparing price with a traditional dealer, watch out for "add-ons" such as rustproofing, paint sealant and extended warranties that can boost both the price and the dealer's profit. The purchase of these items should not be required to get a low price. They are optional items and should be handled that way.

  • Be aware that the price you receive may include rebates, which may have an expiration date. This can be expensive if you decide to buy a few days past the end of a rebate program. Be clear on exactly what the price includes and if there is an end date to any incentive that is included in the price.

  • Decide how you are going to finance your vehicle before you start shopping. Will you use dealer financing or an online lender? If you plan to use an online lender, be sure to check several lenders to obtain the best interest rate. Compare online lenders against your local bank and/or credit union. Dealer finance may or may not be the best option for you. The single advantage of financing a car at the dealership is convenience - you buy and finance the car at the same time. The main disadvantage is variation of interest rates.

  • Extended warranties and auto insurance can all be purchased online. Spend some time examining exactly what coverage is available. There is a wide range among different plans. Finally, watch the amount of the deductible.
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