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Can You Buy a Car Online?

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Online Car Shopping

Seventeen years into the 21st century, our entire marketplace has shifted. We’ve gone from driving to the nearest retail store to clicking a few buttons and having our items shipped to our front door. But what about the automotive industry? Brick-and-mortar car dealerships are still thriving in this day and age. But many consumers wonder—can you buy a car online?

The simple answer? Yes.

The complicated answer? It depends. While online car buying is a growing marketplace being used by dealerships, it’s not always commonplace.

At this point in time, there are two ways to buy your car online: direct online sales or dealership aggregators.

GM Vehicles: Chat with a sales rep

Direct Online Sales

Some car dealerships opt to hire online salespeople to make direct online sales to customers. This option is often listed on dealership websites as “Shop. Click. Drive.” With this method, you can get a quote from the dealership and often chat with an online representative to purchase your vehicle. Since you’re already on their website, you can browse the models and prices before even talking to a salesperson. Plus, you’re free to open a new tab and compare prices from other dealerships, too. Once you finance and purchase your vehicle online, you can sometimes arrange to have it delivered to your home. However, most dealerships will require that you come into the dealership to sign paperwork and pick up your keys.

Dealership Aggregators

Aggregators are basically online search engines for car dealership inventory. Websites like let you use their search engine to browse inventory across many dealerships at once, filtering your search by location. Dealerships can choose to add their inventory to an aggregator’s search engine for a higher volume of potential customers.

Trading In Your Vehicle? Estimate Its Value

While buying your car online may appeal to you, there are some negatives to the process. First, you can’t see the car before owning it. You may very well end up with chips in the paint, dents in the door, or some other feature or problem you would have noticed during a test drive.

No matter how you decide to buy your car, make sure you do some research before making a final decision. Even if you buy your car at the dealership, the internet can be a great resource for information before your visit.

Sources: DMV, BankRate