Buying a car online - A guide


Buy car online

Buying a Car in the 21st Century
Choosing the right car for you
Choosing the Right Technology
Comparing your Top Choices for cars
Making the Final Decision for cars
Research about your dream car
How to gather Anecdotal Information
Choice reevaluation for cars
How to do test drive
Now Ready to Buy
Your Trade In
To buy Dream Car Online
How to make the system Work for You
To get the Best Financing
Car Warranties
Car Insurance
Checklist for cars
What to do after dream car purchase
Considerations for used cars
How to sell old car




Online buying sites for new cars basically fall into two general categories – quote request sites (like Autobytel) and sites that provide an upfront price (like CarsDirect).


In the quote request model you configure a car as you wish and e-mail the configuration details to a dealership or third-party (the latter if you’re using a site like Autobytel for example). You’ll receive a response via your preferred method (phone, fax or e-mail) with a price quote and availability information.


In the upfront price model youll configure a car as you wish and see a price and availability information instantly without surrendering any personal information (in the quote request model you’ll have to surrender at least your e-mail address and/or phone number).


However you should be aware that depending on which state you live in and what brand of car you are buying you may find that even CarsDirect does not offer you an upfront price option. Certain brand/location combinations only offer purchasers the quote request option and you may have no choice but to deal with a dealership.


The quote request sites have two major approaches – you’ll either be able to configure your chosen car and ask for a quote on it (Autobytel and CarSmart) or simply search available inventory for a car that matches your requirements (NADA and AutoNation). In the latter model MSRP will be displayed but you will probably have to request a quote to get the actual selling price.


No matter which quote request model is in use, you’ll usually have to surrender personal information – often on a non-secure form. You’ll also only typically be allowed to request a quote from only one dealer. Because of these factors and the lack of the upfront price, the quote request method is not our favorite, but it can be useful for comparison shopping.


Finally there is a site that doesnt fit the mold – is a reverse auction site where you indicate that you are looking for a specific car (make, model, year, features etc) and dealers in your area submit prices for your consideration. If at the end of your auction you don’t have a price that suits you then you are not obligated to buy (but you will be out the auction fee). Check them out to see if their approach to online car buying is one that interests you.