Car Buying Guide: Better Online, or In Person?

In today’s world, buying a car can be as simple as swiping through your phone, inputting some information, and having a car show up at your doorstep. But should it be that easy? Will you save more money online, or is it better to visit a dealership in person and go the traditional route? There are strengths and drawbacks to both. In this guide, you’ll get the full scoop.

Benefits of Buying Online

The internet has provided many things: a place to meet likeminded people, videos of bread around a cat’s head, and now, the ability to research and buy a car from the comfort of your pajamas.

  • Compare more prices – When buying online, you could have twenty different cars at twenty different dealerships all bidding for your money. What happens next is a bit of a colosseum match. You can lower the prices until there’s only one left, and voila, you’ve got yourself a great deal.
  • Low-pressure sales – Because there’s a screen between you and the car seller, all the regular tactics of salesmanship fall to the wayside. This creates a friendly, low-pressure sales environment because anything else could be seen as abrasive.
  • Filter your preferences – In real life, you can’t just wag your finger and announce that you only want to see red cars. Online, however, your wish is their command. Filtering what you want and don’t want in a car is significantly easier on the internet.

Benefits of Buying in Person

The traditional method of buying a car is to visit a dealership, test drive some cars, negotiate a price, and then take a couple days to consider whether it’s right for you. While many assume that car dealerships are drab places, in reality they’re informative and exciting.

  • Speak with a car expert – Don’t let the dramatists of our age scare you away from car salespeople. Despite what you might believe, behind that scary nametag and deceptively kind smile is just a normal, run-of-the-mill human being. One who’s surrounded by cars and question-asking customers (such as yourself) every day. Use these people as references and pick their brain. They can help direct you to the car of your dreams.
  • Test driving the car – This is the biggest benefit you miss out on if you buy online. Test driving the car should be a required step on all vehicle purchases. You might love the color, love the price, and even love the car salesman. But you won’t know whether you love the car until you plant yourself in it and take it for a spin. To analogize, not test driving is like buying a home without seeing the inside.
  • Faster process – You could prove this idea wrong by standing around a car dealership, snarling at any of those haughty salespeople when they get too close. But in general, buying in person is faster. Searching online means infinite possibility. Having fewer options means finding a car that fits reasonably within your budget and covers your needs.
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Optimal Choice: Use Both

As with many options in life, the best decision is to find a comfortable balance. For those who know little about cars, the internet stands as a beacon of light. Here you can research vehicles, learn the difference between a mid-size SUV and a mid-size crossover, and hone in on your preferences. Then you can search for a “car dealerships near me” and enjoy watching your preferences come to life.

At the dealership, you’ll get a better sense of whether a car is right for you or not. While online reviews are helpful, they’re not exactly catered to your biases. Plus, once you’ve found a car that checks all the boxes, you’re free to hop right in and give it a test drive. And what if you fall in love with it? No problem! Buying in person means no waiting. Just sign the dotted line, set up your financing plan, and away you go, driving off the lot in your newly beloved.

Used vs New

Deciding between used and new cars makes a big difference between buying online and in person. With brand new vehicles, you’ll rarely find any serious defects or malfunctions that you would have otherwise caught in person. This makes buying new cars online a relatively safe choice.

However, when it comes to used cars, you should always see the vehicle in person and give it a test drive. Used cars can have extensive histories with multiple owners and multiple homes. To avoid the chance of purchasing a lemon, always buy used in person.

Car Buying Experience

Whichever method you decide to go with, remember that buying a car is a fun and exciting process. Yes, it will take effort and patience, and at times it can be stressful. But the moment you find the right car, you’ll realize that it was worth all the hard work.

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Car Buying Guide: Better Online, or In Person?