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Expert Online Car Shopping Tips

On Sunday, May 15th, 2016

You’ve all heard tips regarding buying a car in person, but in today’s internet driven age, what about online car shopping? Is it feasible? As a society, we’re using the internet more and more everyday, but it’s still quite tricky to be a pro online shopper.

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It’s even more tricky when it comes to one of the most expensive purchases of all – a car. Before you can cruise down the street, window rolled down and music blasting out, you need to buy one first. It’s not something to be taken lightly, and isn’t something to bound headfirst into. Especially in the online space!

So, you aspiring smart shoppers out there, here’s how to safely navigate the online vehicle space. Have a read of the following advice and you’ll be on your way to a simple car shopping trip in no time!

Tip 1: Read reviews on third-party sites

If you wanted to know whether McDonalds was any good or not, would you go to the McDonalds website to find out? Some might, but that’s a mistake. You can never tell if reviews on the site relating to the product are truthful or not. It could just be a glorified marketing tactic.

So, search around. Have a browse of third-party websites and comparison sites, where you can be sure the reviews aren’t fabricated. Of course, there’s no full guarantee that any review is truthful, but you’re more likely to find them away from official product sites. With a car, you need to know that the make and model is right for you, so honesty is a must.

Tip 2: Use secure, familiar websites

In other words, do you see that green padlock in the address bar? Then you’re good to go. That usually indicates that the site is legit, and has implemented various security protocols. You should start by looking for the official sites of the car you want to buy, such as Because it’s the official site, you can rest easy knowing that you’re in a safe place to shop.

That’s not to say that all sites without a green padlock that aren’t official are duds. It just means that you’re better off with the secure sites, because you have a 100 percent guarantee that you’re dealing with a professional. Sure, you might find a cheaper price elsewhere, but is it worth the risk to you? It’s an expensive item, after all.

Tip 3: Read the fine print

Online car retailers splash their homepages with the very best offers and deals, hoping to entice the viewer. It’s far too easy to get drawn into this trap by just looking at the bigger picture. But, it’s the smaller picture that counts. We’ve all seen those adverts that claim to save you hundreds, then read ‘terms and conditions apply.’ The exact same applies here, too.

For example, there could be a low monthly price displayed front and center, but your hefty deposit could be listed in the T’s & C’s. Those T’s & C’s could catch you out, so be careful.

Tip 4: Always, always request a test drive

Even if you’re sure that it’s the perfect car for you. Even if you’re convinced beyond belief. Always, always request that all-important test drive, for several reasons. Firstly, a picture can only tell you so much; it’s what’s behind the wheel that counts. Pictures can be manipulated to look more appealing than they actually are, too, so don’t fall for this.

Secondly, you can never tell if it’s perfect for your requirements until you’re sitting in it. Just like all those houses that looked brilliant, but in the end, were a letdown. The same could happen here. You can’t tell if the car can fit your family in it properly, or if you find the seats comfortable. You may not like the pedals, and the placement of certain switches and buttons may seem off. In short, you can buy online, but go and test your chosen vehicle first. You’ll regret it if you don’t.

Tip 5: Don’t finalize your purchase on a public network

This would be absolutely fatal. Those free wi-fi networks in the airport, gym and cafe are great for browsing YouTube or looking up facts, but not for shopping. Especially something as expensive as a car. Buying a car on a public network opens you up to a whole host of security risks that can prove costly.

Your card details? They could be at risk. Your security code? Gone. Passwords? Possibly. Hackers and thieves can access these open networks and obtain any information related to your transaction. Stay safe, and shop at home. Of course, if shopping outdoors is unavoidable, you could create your own secure network. There’s plenty of advice on how to do this, like, so stay secure.

Tip 6: Look at the different financing options

If you bought a car in person, the dealer would talk you through these. In person, however, you will have to peruse them yourself. These different financing choices can make it much easier for you to be able to afford a car, so make sure you stay up to date.

One option, which is the most common, is the monthly payments plus deposit. You’ll slap down a chunk of cash upfront, and will pay the rest off in monthly sums. Your payments and contract will be fixed, so there’ll be no surprises further down the line. Once the contract is up, the car is yours!

Alternatively, you could buy the car on contract, which means you won’t ever own it. But this does mean you won’t have to worry about a nightmare trade-in process in future. Contracts are good because you won’t have to worry about the commitment of ownership, so could be good for laid-back drivers.

So, in short, take a look around at your options, and don’t stick to the first one you see. More often than not, the perfect deal for you could be lurking behind a sub menu on a website.

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