In today’s world, almost everything is being done over the Internet and in particular, virtually everything is being bought and sold online. Cars are no longer a categorical exception. While it is still rare for a car sale to be 100% finalized online (although it does happen), getting to the brink of a finalized sale and then just signing at the dealership and driving the car home is now quite a common occurrence.

And there are situations where buying a car long-distance through the Web and then having it shipped somewhere makes perfect sense – for example, shipping it to you or to your son/daughter at college as an unforgettable surprise gift. As to having a car shipped, you can easily get the scoop on how to do that and be assured everything will go well. Additionally, if you have someone who can inspect the car for you on-site, you’re all set and you may never need to be there physically yourself.

Direct Sales VS. Dealership Aggregators

There are two ways people generally complete nearly all aspects of an auto purchase online: direct from a dealer and through a dealership aggregate site.

Just about every dealership in the country has a website; but some dealers also have an online sales department. You just ask for a quote online and indicate you want to buy online. Then you get emailed an offer. Or, you engage in a live chat session with a sales rep. You can ask for an all-fees-included quote too and compare offers from multiple online dealerships.

On the other hand, dealership aggregators are basically Web-based auto marketplaces that are used by almost all of the major US dealerships with a national spread. These sites make it even easier to search for great car deals nationwide and to compare offers.

Tips for Buying Cars Online

If you loathe all-day excursions to numerous dealerships, wasting time and gas and stressing out over price-haggling, online car shopping might be for you. But you need to follow a few good tips to maximize safety and minimize cost:

  1. Research first. Spend time perusing your options, visiting different sites, and comparing prices before entering into a serious sales chat or email exchange. Write down hot prospects to return to later. Don’t feel pressured or hasty: there are plenty of great deals out there to be found.
  2. Ask about trade-ins. You should be able to swing a trade-in of your old car as part of the deal, so ask about it. Even if someone has to pick it up (and you have to reduce the trade-in price accordingly), you could still save money on the new car.
  3. Secure your financing ahead of time. Getting pre-approved for a line of credit gives you bargaining power and lets dealers know you’re serious about buying. It also gives you an idea of how much financing you have to work with: so definitely secure financing upfront from your bank if at all possible.
  4. See if you can get a savings certificate. Some online dealers offer certificates that guarantee a certain price, financing, or a discount. Even if are having the car shipped for and delivered to you, you can have the certificate printed out if you forward it by email or you can mail it to the shipper.
  5. Use a trusted auto shipper. If you buy local, but need to send the car cross-country to where your child student lives; or, if you have a trusted friend/relative pick up the car for you (but he/she can’t drive it across the country to you) – your best option is to use a reputable auto shipping company to safely ship your car to where it needs to be.