5 MIN READ
Skip the Dealership and Buy Your Next Car Online Using One of These Sites
What’s more sweat-inducing than a job interview?
Maybe negotiating with a car salesperson and throwing down a chunk of money…
But you might be able to avoid the pressure of negotiating at a dealership nowadays.
That’s because online platforms that sell cars are becoming increasingly popular — and could help save you tons of time and money.
The Perks of Using a Car-Buying Site
Making such a big purchase online seems a little frivolous, doesn’t it?
I’d actually never heard of this option until I interviewed Justin Cupler, our own assistant editor and former automotive mechanic/technical writer, for our used car guide.
That’s when he told me he doesn’t think used car lots — which, he says, don’t offer good deals anyway — will be around much longer.
That’s because websites like Carvana and Vroom, which specialize in buying and selling cars online, are popping up. And the cars you find on these sites tend to be better than those you’ll find on the lot.
“They take trade-ins from across the nation and can afford to be more selective,” Cupler told me. “That’s because they don’t have a dealer lot to keep full.”
Another perk of online used car shopping? You aren’t charged extra fees for the dealer’s commission or any overhead expenses.
Oh, and the car is delivered to your front door.
The only downside is you won’t be able to test drive it. However, most of these sites have a return policy. For example, Carvana has a seven-day money-back guarantee policy.
3 Websites Where You Could Buy Your Next Car
If you’re interested in checking out some of these sites, here are three — all of which offer home deliveries and accept returns.
CarSense has five car lots in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, but you don’t have to be in one of those states to shop there.
The company’s inventory of 2,240 cars is all listed online. You can be as specific or as general as you’d like when you search.
You can even search by your budget. Calculate what you can afford by entering the monthly payment, down payment, finance APR and desired contract length into the search tool. Then type in that estimated budget and find your matches.
Once you find what you want, take a look at the free vehicle history report, the photos and all the details. You can also see how much you’re saving compared to the Kelley Blue Book price.
If you like what you see, you can get free delivery if you live within 50 miles of the vehicle's location. If not, you’ll have to pay (prices vary by vacation). Either way, you’ll get a five-day return policy.
Carvana has about 7,600 cars in stock right now, and according to its price breakdown, buyers can save an average of $1,889 using the site instead of shopping at a dealership.
You can search for exactly what you want, or peruse the available options.
Once you find one to your liking, take a “tour.” I chose a Volkswagen Tiguan. When I clicked on two blue dots, the car’s specs pop up. The little yellow triangle means something is wrong with it. In this case, it’s just a few scratches on the hood. (Search for a car, and you’ll see what I mean!)
You’ll see photos of the interior, exterior and under the hood.
If you like the car, you can build your deal. Select your annual income and enter your VantageScore to see your personalized financing terms. You can also use a third party to finance if you don’t like what you see.
You’ll review and sign all your contracts online. You can take your time combing through the fine print or speed through.
According to Carvana, the fastest time someone’s purchased a car through its site is 11 minutes. (I’d probably issue a speeding ticket for that buyer…)
If you don’t like the car once you’ve got it, though, you have seven days to return it.
Vroom claims to save buyers an average of $2,545.
What’s also neat about Vroom is that it has more than 100 acres of “car heaven, home to the industry’s leading reconditioning technology” with its main site in Texas.
Vroom has scouts who scour the country to find the best pre-owned cars. Once the scouts find a car, the reconditioning team takes over and makes the car as new as possible.
Then it’s your turn to find the car you want. Vroom has more than 3,000 vehicles stocked. You can browse or get right to it and search by make and model.
You’ll find all the details you need. The free vehicle history report shows an accident check (if there have been any accidents, that’s where you’ll see them), state title issues and an odometer check.
There’s also a nifty estimated payment calculator you can play with. Choose your credit status, your preferred term length and how much you’d like to put down.
If for some reason the vehicle is delivered and you hate it, you have a week to return it. Plus, there’s a 90-day warranty in case anything is iffy.
You can also trade your old car in here, too!
Your Turn: Have you ever purchased a car online? What platform did you use, and what was your experience like?
Carson Kohler (@CarsonKohler) is a junior writer at The Penny Hoarder.
Haley Gonzalez is an editorial intern at The Penny Hoarder. She helped search for legitimate car-buying sites!