How to Buy a Car Online Safety: 7 Tips You Can Trust

The latest trend in car shopping involves trading the car lot for the dot com. While many shoppers are increasingly comfortable buying cars online, others have some hesitancy.

Rather than avoiding this outstanding opportunity to find the perfect vehicle from all over the United States, you can learn tips from people who have successfully purchased a reliable car from an online dealership. Here are seven tips that will put you in the driver’s seat of your digital car hunt.

When it comes time to schedule a shipment, lookout for auto transport scams

When you buy a car online, you have to move it from the dealership to your home. Coordinating auto transport services from state to state can be stressful, so it’s vital to find a quality auto transport company. You can find trustworthy providers by familiarizing yourself with the warning signs of shady dealerships. For example, a questionable dealership may require you to pay upfront or offer a bait-and-switch with a low rate that quickly changes to an expensive one. By contrast, reliable auto transporters will provide you with a quote and a contract, so you always know what your fees are.

Get the VIN on any vehicle you are considering

Because you don’t see the car in person, you’ll want as much information about it as possible. The best resource for vehicle information is the VIN, or vehicle identification number. You can learn about the car’s maintenance records, accident history, and previous owners with this number. Ask for photos with the VIN to match the number to the vehicle.

Use a payment method that offers a money trail

When you pay with cash, you do not leave a money trail. If you choose a payment method that leaves a record, you have recourse if something goes wrong. Requests for wire transfers and bank transfers can signify a shady dealership.

Talk to the seller in person

While it’s convenient to text or chat, your best bet on winning a good deal is to talk to the seller. You can ask questions and hear the tone of voice, helping you determine if the sale is legitimate.

If it seems too good to be true, it probably is

A sign of a shady deal is being too good to be true. Ridiculously low asking prices can be a sign of a potential problem, as the seller needs to offload the car quickly. Yes, you want a good deal, but you don’t want to get scammed with a vehicle that will fall apart in a few weeks.

Don’t share any personal information over the phone

When buying a car online, don’t share your Social Security number or checking account numbers with the sales team. Most reputable online car dealerships have financing apps that let you share this information privately.

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Get the vehicle checked out

Before you finish the purchase, you want to be sure the vehicle exists. One way to do that is to have an independent mechanic inspect the car. Have the independent mechanic inspect the vehicle, take pictures, and send the results your way.

Wrap up

Learning to buy a car safely online opens up opportunities to find the perfect vehicle at the right price. Online car buying can be an enjoyable and stress-free experience, especially if you follow the tips from veteran car buyers.


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