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Internet Car Buying ^NEW^

The other entrance is a virtual one and leads to the dealership's internet department. In this version, you call, email or text the dealership internet sales manager to verify that the car is in stock, schedule a test drive and get a general idea on price. Once you have test-driven and chosen a car, you can do the rest of the deal (including financing and negotiating) online or over the phone, still working with the internet team. In some cases, a dealer will even deliver the car to your home or office. This helps you avoid delays and sales pitches in the dealership finance and insurance office.

internet car buying

Which of these two paths to new-car ownership results in a lower price? And which will be the more pleasant buying experience? More importantly, which one will take the least amount of time? It's the internet path. Hands down. Here's an example to illustrate this point.

When you walk onto any dealership lot, you'll find that the new cars have a window sticker with the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP). If you haven't previously contacted anyone, the negotiation would most likely start from there. But if you went to that same dealership's website and clicked on the "e-price" link (and then entered your contact information) or called the internet manager, you'd get a discounted price with little effort.

Salespeople in internet departments typically have different sales incentives and so behave differently from traditional car salespeople. Car dealership internet departments focus on selling a higher volume of cars rather than zeroing in on getting on maximum profit on each individual deal. Therefore, the initial price quote from an internet sales manager is often very close to the absolute lowest selling price for a given vehicle.

Internet department salespeople also assume car buyers are informed, have shopped around and won't necessarily "buy today." More importantly, the internet team is willing to give specific prices on actual cars in an email or over the telephone. Edmunds has also taken this approach with its Special Offers, which present guaranteed, up-front prices for specific cars online.

On a number of occasions we have tested the internet versus traditional method of getting a price on a car. The results were always the same. The "on the ground" method takes at least an hour of your day (more if you factor in travel to and from the dealership), involves speaking to salespeople who try to "see what they can do," and ends up with something that is not the best price.

A side note about the frequency of salesperson calls and emails you may receive if you shop via the internet: We know the calls and emails can get excessive at times. The salespeople are eager to make a sale and they want to follow up to gauge your interest. We don't recommend giving them fake contact information, however. They may need to get a hold of you for valid reasons. Instead, consider creating a dedicated email address and a temporary phone number (something like Google Voice) for the duration of your car shopping. A temporary number can be easier to monitor and turn off once you're done with the sale. Once you've bought the car and decide to get rid of the temporary number, make sure you give the dealer your actual contact information, in case it needs to reach you for things such as recall information or if there's a problem with the paperwork.

The next morning, we phoned the internet manager at the same dealership and asked for a price on the car that we had test-driven the day before. "Let me look that up for you," he said. A minute later, he was back. "Our price is $19,310."

While the internet approach clearly offers advantages to many consumers, some buyers are still more comfortable buying the traditional way: physically going to the car lot. Maybe you want the salesperson's recommendations on selection of the right model and features, a face-to-face sales pitch and some hand-holding during the buying process. If the salesperson truly is an expert in the car's features, this approach can be helpful. You just need to have done your homework to ensure the deal is a fair one. Just know that the route to a fair price might be a longer one.

It's difficult to accurately quantify the savings you can get by using a car dealership's internet department. But it's safe to say the price will nearly always be lower than the price you'll be quoted if you walk onto the car lot — assuming you can even get a definite price.

There's no question that using the internet department saves time and stress. When you shop in person at a dealership, you run the risk of making costly, spur-of-the-moment decisions on financing or additional products. Working via the internet department minimizes that. It also is good if you don't have an appetite for negotiating.

By using the internet as the front door to a car purchase, you make more informed decisions. There is time to consider all the possibilities in a relaxed atmosphere, away from the distracting lure of new-car smell.

Bargaining, haggling, and negotiating used to be a common part of buying almost anything, dating back to the town markets and bazaars of 150 years ago. But these days, many consumers don't even want personal interaction with the people and stores they buy from, much less to go through the alien and uncomfortable process of negotiating price.

Buying a car online can relieve those stresses. Some online car purchases involve no negotiating whatsoever, and both the buyer and seller are fine with that. But if you've done some car-buying research, you probably have heard if you want to get the best price and the best deal, you have to negotiate.

Since you will be negotiating price, you also need to know with a high degree of accuracy what price the vehicle you are seeking to buy commands in the marketplace. Again, the internet is your friend here because sites like this one can give you a very close approximation of the going "market price" for just about any car out there.

With all this research and preparation complete, you are ready to narrow in on the vehicle you would like to explore buying. You can search new and used vehicle listings right here on, or you can use manufacturer or dealership websites to view inventories of what's for sale right now at a dealer near you. When you find a vehicle that meets your requirements, it is time to take the next step.

You can start by telling them you noticed a particular vehicle the dealership has in stock, that you are strongly interested in buying it, that you are a "cash-buyer" (thanks to having the cash or by pre-qualifying for a loan), and that you are willing to listen to the dealer's financing options.

Jack R. Nerad has covered car buying, auto retailing, and the automotive industry for more than three decades. He has held editorial director posts at dealership, consumer, enthusiast, and market research publications; appeared on television as a car-buying expert; and hosts a popular podcast. He is the author of several books, including The Complete Idiot's Guide to Buying or Leasing a Car.

And with more dealerships offering delivery to your door, you might only step into a dealership to take a test drive. By doing your research and following the steps below, you can do the majority of your car buying online.

You are now able to complete the entire car-shopping process from home, including having the car delivered to your driveway. To have the vehicle delivered to your driveway, you will need to ensure that the delivery filter is selected on the car-buying website. Doing so will show you what cars are eligible for delivery. After you find your eligible car, just check out and wait a few weeks for your car to arrive.

Fortunately, nearly every step in the car-buying process can be completed online with much less stress. In most cases, though, a final trip to a dealership is still needed to go for a thorough test drive, to sign the paperwork, and to take delivery of the car. Even that part of the process is changing, however, with more dealers willing to bring the car right to your home. Moreover, electronic signatures are beginning to take the place of signing paper documents.

In this guide, we'll look at eight easy steps to follow when buying a car online. We'll mainly be looking at purchasing new or used vehicles online from dealerships in this article. Check out our guide to buying a used car for information about buying from a private seller.

The next step in an online vehicle purchase is to email or chat with a dealership's Internet sales department or Internet sales manager. Dealerships frequently assign experienced people to these departments, as they understand the potential sales boost the Internet offers and know that consumers buying online tend to be more knowledgeable and savvy than those walking through the front door. You have a better chance of a no-haggle buying experience on the Internet than you do in a face-to-face purchase at a dealer.

We live in the Digital Age: an era where the internet has transformed nearly every industry. It has created a new normal for the way we communicate and has set a new standard for how we behave as consumers. We now choose to embrace the convenience of shopping from our couch and have instant access to information with the click of a mouse.

This is no different in the automotive industry. We are now only a Google search away from buying a car. Traditionally, the process of purchasing a car is exactly that: a process. From the showroom floor to the hours spent at the desk of a salesman, it can be anything but a smooth experience. Though many sales are still made in the traditional fashion, the influence of the internet has led many consumers to not only shop online but also to do their research prior to making a purchase. This can result in not only a faster transaction but also a more educated one. According to a research study conducted in 2017 by Autotrader, 83% of buyers use the internet to shop for cars through third-party websites, and as concluded in its 2016 study, buyers spend 59% of their time online. 041b061a72


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