Life and Style

College 101: Should You Buy a Used Car Online?

Although buying used cars online can be risky, taking the proper precautions can help you score a great car at a low price. If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, here’s how to find a used car from the comfort of your home.

Start with the right website

Finding a reputable and trustworthy site to start your search can provide you with peace of mind and help you find the car that best matches your needs. For shoppers who want to buy used cars online, auto auction sites are a great place to start. These online marketplaces offer used, pre-owned, salvage, and insurance vehicles. Through these websites, prospective buyers can gain exclusive access to dealer-only auctions on over 100,000 cars. 

If you’re interested in a specific vehicle or shopping on a budget, you’ll be able to input the make, model, year, class, and price range into the search criteria. 

Approach listings with precaution

Although some dealership websites provide warranties on used cars, purchasing through a third-party website like eBay can boost your risk of being scammed. If you find a car online at a price that’s too good to be true, it’s best to avoid the vehicle altogether. 

Many scammers will ask for a down payment of half the purchase money, so make sure to approach these situations with caution. To ensure that you’re buying from a reliable dealer, make sure to research the dealer beforehand. Additionally, use a dealer’s classified program to make an offer on a vehicle. If the dealer is reputable, someone will respond to your offer with a counter-offer.

Research the individual car

After beginning the search to buy used cars online, you’ll be able to narrow down your search to a few specific vehicles. Once you’ve decided on the right car for you, you should ask to look at the vehicle’s history report. Many dealers will be able to provide a comprehensive CARFAX report on the history of a vehicle.

If you’re purchasing a used car from an individual seller, ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN) to research the vehicle’s history. Although vehicle history reports cost around $35, they provide information that could make or break the deal. After looking over the car’s history, make sure to ask the seller if the car needs any maintenance or repair work. 

In order to gain an understanding of the vehicle’s condition, ask the seller to have the vehicle inspected by an unbiased mechanic. If the seller is hesitant, this should be treated as a red flag, as they may be hiding something about the car.

Negotiate your price 

While some dealers remain firm on the price of used vehicles, others will be willing to negotiate the price. Utilize a few different websites to search for the vehicle you’ve chosen. If you can find the vehicle at a lower price elsewhere or if you know the seller has been trying to sell the vehicle for a while, you’ll likely be able to negotiate successfully.

If you’re shopping on a budget, considering purchasing a vehicle during its off-season. For instance, convertibles are often sold for lower prices during the winter. Many larger dealer websites offer prospective buyers the option to receive emails when new vehicles are posted, so you might want to wait a few seasons in order to score a vehicle at the lowest price. 

If the vehicle you’re interested in needs repairs, consider contacting an auto company in your area and asking for a quote. For example, if you’re buying a car that needs a windshield replacement, professionals can provide you with a windshield replacement in Orlando or your local town. According to the experts at Orange Blossom Auto Glass, it’s essential to find a technician approved by all insurance companies. When negotiating, ask the seller to consider subtracting the price of the quote from the total.

Although buying used cars online can seem intimidating, taking the proper precautionary measures can help you negotiate a low price and is often times the preferred way to get a great car.

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