Tips for Buying a Vehicle Over the Internet

Jim Brown | Cars

You've bought a dress online, you've looked for apartments online, and you might meet your future spouse online. With seemingly every type of transaction taking place over the internet these days, it's no surprise that some people have taken the next step in car buying and bought their vehicles through the internet.

There are risks, of course. While there are inherent risks to shopping at an unknown used car dealership, there are even more 'unknowns' online. Bait and switch tactics are one thing many car buyers might be concerned about. It is possible, though, to save money and get the exact vehicle you want. Here are a few tips for having a good experience with an online auto purchase.

What You Should Check for in Any Vehicle

Even if you can't physically examine a car, most of what you need to know is available already. You can look up the estimated value of any car in vehicle buying guides like Kelly Blue Book.

Look through any recent selling history the seller has. Even if they're not regularly a car dealer, they likely have some feedback.

Get a vehicle history report for the car based on its VIN number. Never buy a used car without getting this -- even a great looking car might have hidden damage, or a history of accidents and repairs. Mileage is not the only thing to keep in mind when evaluating a potential purchase of this size.

What to Do When Negotiating Fees

If the vehicle does not have a set value, then you should keep an itemized list of all quoted prices and costs. With this information, you won't be hit later with a "customer service fee" that you never agreed to accept.

Much like going to a dealership, keep your own financial situation close to the vest, especially the highest possible monthly payment you can afford. Remember that the winner of a negotiation is rarely the first person to show their hand, so be smart when haggling over a car purchase.

How to Ship a Car to Your Location

If you've bought a car but it needs to be delivered, you'll need to pay for car shipping services. A typical cost for car shipping quotes ranges from $500 to several thousand dollars, dependent on your vehicle type, where you're going, how fast it will get there, etc. Always look up reviews of car transport companies. Some are barely more than scam operations that deliver cars months late, and with extra fees.

One caveat - Be sure to take shipping volume into account when considering reviews. A fly by night transport company with 100 bad reviews should be a huge concern. On the other hand, 100 negative reviews is a drop in the bucket for an established outfit like CarsArrive that have shipped millions of vehicles during their history.

When you ship a car, make sure there is documentation of any and all damage to the car prior to leaving -- have photographs of the entire thing. Things happen in transit, but a good auto transport company will make it right after the fact. With the right documentation, any claims should be much easier to sort out down the road.

Do you plan to ship a car you've bought online? Be sure to include CarsArrive on your short list of candidates. We have one of the longest standing histories of successful car transport in the industry.

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