Shop Online & Save Stress on Your Next Car Purchase

As a follow up to our post about top 10 car buying tips, we realize that not very many people actually like car shopping. Sure, it can be fun to test drive, but when it’s time to do the deal, most of us would rather have a cavity filled.

Between the high-pressure sales person and the dizzying tactics, it makes sense that so many get nauseous at the thought of the car-buying process. But what if there is another way? A way that will not only save you time and stress, but will most likely save you significant money, too? A way to buy a car from the comfort of your couch?

Consider internet car buying. While this has been around since the 90s, internet car buying remains a secret to most consumers. The trend began when the internet era created opportunities for the average shopper to become better educated, closing the “knowledge gap” between dealerships and shoppers.

Many websites started offering fair market value analyses of cars, and some even started disclosing dealer invoice pricing. As buyers became better educated, dealerships created internet sales departments to meet the demands of this new style of shopper.

Internet sales people are compensated differently than traditional sales people. They are motivated to sell by volume, rather than highest price. Internet sales people assume their buyers are educated and are comparing online quotes from several dealers simultaneously.

What this means for you is that their price quotes are frequently much lower than prices you’d get at the lot; they know they have to compete for your business. You can generally get more complete quotes this way too: full disclosures of fees included in the price of the car, and no last-minute additions or finance charges.

To take full advantage of the process, you should test drive and research to find the exact make, model, and options you are interested in. Then, pull on the bunny slippers and get cozy. Email several dealerships, and be very specific about exactly what you are looking for. This will signal to the sales person that you are educated, and that you are comparing apples to apples quotes from several dealers.

Compare the quotes you receive to the fair market value and invoice prices you found through your research. Once you have satisfactorily done the deal, you can even ask for the car to be delivered. You can sign any applicable paperwork when the dealership delivers your ride, and they can even pick up your trade-in at the same time. If you have a trade-in, work the deal on the car you are buying before bringing up your trade-in. This will force the salesperson to negotiate each piece separately, meaning better deals for you.

Looking to buy soon? Get pre-approved for your auto loan from Liberty Savings. We work with your budget to give you monthly payments and total amounts so you know how much you can afford when you start shopping.

A version of this article appears in Guides to Money, the credit union website for young adults ages 18 to 30.

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