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From your smartphone to your driveway: How to buy a new car online

minute read

    The way people shop for cars is beginning to change and the opportunity to buy a car online is enticing to many. With the emergence of new sites and apps, buying a car online can streamline the purchasing process, provide you with competitive options and keep you savvy about what cars are available — without having to travel to and haggle with a dealership.

    How to decide if you want to buy a new car online

    Deciding whether to buy a car online or in a showroom depends on a lot of factors. 


    Are you looking to see as many options as possible? By shopping online, you can hop from one brand to another and compare prices and features across the board all at once. It can also provide you with flexibility; rather than visiting one dealership at a time, you can browse various dealerships as well as makes and models to find the right car for you.


    One of the most alluring parts about shopping for and buying a car online is that it can save you time. You can do it from the comfort of your own home with a few keystrokes, whereas dealership interactions can take hours traveling and browsing from one shop to the next. On the other hand, buying a car online can be time-consuming for other reasons. It’ll require more independent research and time surrounding your lease or purchase agreements and financing options. If you go in-person, you have a salesperson to walk you through the features, terms and agreements involved in the transaction.


    Critics of online car shopping may argue that you miss out on a better offer since online car buying usually does not involve salespeople. Going into a dealership can be pressure-filled in this way. With online shopping there is less pressure to buy on the spot or agree to something you can’t afford. These aspects can help you avoid making an impulsive purchase.

    The experience

    Test driving the car allows you to drive it, see how the features work, how the seat fits you and the way it makes you feel. Buying online may deprive you of necessary test drives and one on one time with your future vehicle. However, there are some online car buying sites that offer test drives.

    Exploring inventory options

    Nowadays, most dealerships have their inventory online, including the newest models on the market. You can search to compare different brands, makes and models — even explore features that you’re specifically looking for like interior colors and more. 

    The process of buying a car online

    Buying a car online isn’t necessarily formulaic or linear. You can mix and match online and traditional ways of purchasing, but there are best practices.

    1. First you must determine your budget and what features you’re looking for. Narrow down the makes and models that you’re interested in. Once you’ve determined the above, you’ll want to pre-qualify for financing. Pre-qualifying can help you set a baseline price and negotiate with dealers.
    2. Then you can start searching for cars in your desired location. Shopping for a car online allows you to effortlessly browse dealers in your area. Begin getting quotes from different sellers by contacting them online or by phone. Shopping online with Chase Auto provides you with real time price information – and allowing you to connect with dealers electronically.
    3. Next, you can apply for financing. This allows you to see an estimate of your monthly car payments, interest rate, and more. With Chase Auto Finance and Drive, once you find your vehicle online you can seamlessly and easily complete the application. Now, you can officially go through the purchase transaction. Make sure to review the paperwork, loan terms and purchase agreement.
    4. Once you’ve secured your loan and purchased your vehicle, you can finally take the wheel and hit the road. Some online dealerships even deliver right to your door.

    Whether buying online or in person, you’ll want to sort out your car insurance and any other necessary steps to make sure you, the driver, and the car are protected.

    Five things to know about making an online car purchase

    1. Buying online can streamline the process.
    2. You have access to dealerships or sellers both near and far.
    3. You may end up going to the dealership in person anyway.
    4. There may be extra fees associated for delivery purposes.
    5. If you’re unable to see or test drive the car, it can be helpful to request an inspection.

    There are a lot of things to consider when buying a car online — variety, time, costs and the enjoyment of the experience among them. Ultimately whether you shop online or in person, or a mix of the two, it all comes down to what you’re most comfortable with.

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