Are you interested in shopping for a new car online? We'll show you how to research your new car, how to think about pricing, and how to understanding rebates and incentives. We'll also discuss trade-ins and financing. Just follow these steps to get the best deal on your new car purchase.
Advantages of Shopping for Cars Online
There are many advantages to buying your new car online. The one most people think of is not having to deal with a high-pressure salesperson. You'll also be able to comparison shop several dealerships without having to spend a lot of time driving to each one. In person, you may be limited to what a dealer has in stock. With online shopping, however, you're more likely to find the make and model you want with the color and options of your choice. The one real disadvantage to buying online is not seeing the car in person before you make the purchase.
Researching Your New Car
When researching your new car, consider your budget and how you'll be using it. Things that may be important could include fuel economy, storage space, size, seating, or maintenance costs.
Look at Expert Ratings and User Reviews
Before you make your new car purchase, be sure to check out expert ratings for your vehicle, such as those offered by J.D. Power and Consumer Reports. User reviews can be found on a number of websites, and you may even be able to find video reviews of your vehicle on sites like YouTube. All these things will help you understand the benefits and drawbacks of the car you want to buy.
MSRP vs Invoice Price
Determining how much you want to pay for your new car without feeling like you got swindled is easier today with online tools. Be sure to research the manufacturer's suggested retail price, commonly referred to as MSRP, as well as the dealer's invoice price, which is the amount they paid for the car. Some websites will also allow you to see what price people in your area paid for a particular type of car. All this information will give you a good price range for the car so you know what to expect when you talk to the dealer.
Understanding Rebates and Incentives
Although you've done some research on the MSRP and invoice price, it's important to understand dealer rebates and incentives. The factory that produces your new car will often provide dealers with incentives that reduce their costs. This means that sometimes the dealers invoice cost is lower than it appears, based on your research. This may allow a dealer to give you an even better deal on your car -- don't tip your hand too early by quoting your research on MSRP and invoice price.
What's Your Trade-in Value?
There are several options when it comes to selling your used vehicle. The first is to trade it in at the dealership where you are buying your new car. Many people make the mistake of only investigating this one option, however. You may want to consider selling it yourself or selling to a used car dealer. If you sell it yourself, you may wish to use a website like Craigslist or eBay. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to look up the value of your used car.
Whatever you do, don't walk into dealer financing blind -- a study from the Center for Responsible Lending found that dealers typically mark up the interest rates almost 2.5 percent. Check out our free auto loan request at LendingTree to get quotes from several lenders. By getting pre-qualified for your auto loan, you'll know the best interest rates for which you qualify, and be able to compare those to anything the dealer offers. Some dealer promotions give you the choice between very cheap financing or a rebate; run the numbers to see which option is best for your situation.
In order to get the best deal, make sure you check the inventory of the car you want at each dealership. Supply and demand can affect the deal you get on your car; if there are few cars available, your chances of getting a good deal plummet. In some cases, you may have to pay a premium for your car, like buyers did when hybrid cars first came out and everyone wanted one. The dealers couldn't get them in stock fast enough to meet the demand, so people who bought one usually paid full price or more.
Place Your Order
Most car dealerships have a dedicated Internet sales team to assist you with the process of new car shopping online. Once you've completed the steps above, contact the dealer and get a price quote on your new car. If you're happy with it, go ahead and place your order. If you're not, negotiate. Go back to the research you've done and utilize it to get a better price from the dealer. Make sure you look at an itemized quote, so you understand all the fees associated with the purchase of your new car. Don't be afraid to negotiate things like service fees with the dealer, who has the option to reduce those or cut them out altogether.