These days, careful car buyers go mouse-clicking instead of tire-kicking. If you use your online resources right, you can easily find specs for every make and model, along with side-by-side comparisons, user reviews and pricing intelligence that will help you get the best deal on your new car.
In fact, with many dealers now happy to deliver cars personally, plus the availability of auto loans online, you could probably make your purchase without stepping onto the lot. You should probably get out there and do some test-driving, though. It can be complicated for those who are buying the first car.
Tips for shopping for a car online
Compare vehicle specs online. Would a sedan, a minivan or a hard-working SUV be the best fit for your family? Is reliability or driving experience more important? How much could you save by purchasing a hybrid vehicle? The best way to answer these types of questions is to research vehicle specs and determine which makes and models make the most sense for your lifestyle.
If you are looking for more detailed answers, read consumer reviews and reliability ratings, find the latest pricing and rebate info, or compare two vehicles head-to-head. Plus, you can view the current photos and pricing information of new and used cars for sale at local dealerships at autos.lendingtree.com.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, it’s time to test drive. Every car has a different feel, so visit nearby dealers and take a few quick trips around the block. If you have your eye on a specific vehicle, you can contact the dealer to ask a question, make an appointment or schedule a test drive.
Figure out how much you want to pay, and whether you want to pay cash, finance or lease.Take advantage of our auto loan calculators to help you determine the price and the monthly payments you can afford. You can even compare real loan offers from multiple lenders, all online.
Find out what your dealer paid for the vehicle you want. Many web sites tell you not only the manufacturer’s suggested retail price or sticker price, but also the invoice price – the amount the dealer paid for the car (though incentives, holdbacks and advertising fees from the manufacturer can reduce the actual price the dealer pays to below invoice). The difference between the sticker price and the invoice price is the dealers’ margin, which is prime negotiating territory.
Get online quotes. Our online auto marketplace can help you get price quotes from dealers in your city. Since these dealers will assume you’ve been researching your purchase online, they may offer a competitive Internet price. If you don’t reach out to the dealer before arriving at the dealership, be sure to mention the rebates or incentives you found in your initial research.