During and after the pandemic, many consumers decided that shopping from the comfort of their homes was better than having face-to-face interactions with salespeople. If you want to skip the regular car-buying process, you’re probably wondering if it’s possible to make your purchase entirely online. Keep reading to learn how to buy a car online and how to make the most of your digital interactions.

Do Your Research Online

With so much information at our fingertips, researching cars on the web is easier than ever before. When it comes to buying a car online, meticulous research is even more important if you’re planning on skipping or limiting your time at the dealership. If you’ve set a budget for your future car, you can use that to guide your research.

Evaluate what you want in a car based on your lifestyle, family size, commute length, safety needs, etc. For example, if you spend long hours driving for work, are you going to look for a car with good fuel economy? If you have a family, do you want to prioritize safety ratings and cargo space?

Once you know what you’re looking for, you can start researching specific makes and models to get an idea of what’s on the market. Reading online reviews from experts and consumers is a great way to learn more about your potential car. With things like YouTube, you can even find videos of the interior and exterior of any models you’re interested in. Another option is to call the dealership and ask the salesperson to take pictures of the car for you.

Don’t Forget to Shop for a Deal

When a new car hits the market and doesn’t sell as well as its projected numbers, manufacturers will try to sell more with deals and incentives. In addition, if you’re shopping for a car later in the year, the price of the older models might decrease before the new ones hit the lot. Take advantage of these opportunities and look around for a deal, subsidized lease or sale, or cashback offer. Check the dealership or manufacturer’s website to see what’s available in your area. Depending on where you live, you might be eligible for factory-to-dealer incentives that are only available in your area. You might also qualify for a discount if you’re a recent graduate, military veteran, first responder, or rideshare driver.

Graphic - woman, red car, mobile website on phone to buy a car onlineReach Out to an Online Salesperson

As online shopping is becoming more common, many dealerships have dedicated entire departments to virtual sales. Reaching out to a virtual salesperson is a great way to get the ball rolling. Ask them about deals and what you’re looking for in a car, and they can recommend a few models and some good starting places. Online car dealers are used to chatting with customers who’ve done their research and know what they’re looking for, so they’ll have a unique perspective to share with you. In addition, talking with a salesperson via email removes the pressure of in-person negotiating and leaves a paper trail you can reference if needed. However, avoid bringing up financing during the research stage.

Get Quotes from Multiple Dealers Online

Like car insurance quotes, getting multiple quotes from a few different dealerships is the best way to find the best price, and they can also be used as leverage during your online negotiations. However, you probably won’t get quoted the dealer’s best price if they’re not 100% sure you’re going to buy from them. Use a fair price tool or research current market prices to make sure the quotes fall within a reasonable range.

Negotiate Online

If the quote you receive is higher than the fair market price, you can use that number as leverage during the negotiation process. Experts recommend asking for the dealership’s best offer and avoiding mentioning other negotiations unless it’s to your advantage. One of the biggest pros of buying a car completely online is that it’s easier to walk away from an interaction if you feel you’re not getting a fair price. Using email takes the emotion out of the equation and helps you keep a level head, which is an important part of negotiating correctly.

Close the Deal

You might have to make a brief in-person dealership visit to finalize the bill. However, many dealerships will now deliver the car and the final paperwork straight to your home.

Once your new car gets delivered, don’t take it for a spin without quality insurance. The General has a range of policies for every driver, regardless of driving record or credit score. You can get a car insurance quote in under two minutes or read more about the car buying process on our blog.