is actually Online Car Buying for You? Depends Which Kind of Shopper You Are

is actually Online Car Buying for You? Depends Which Kind of Shopper You Are


Online Car Sales Are Pitting Carmaker in addition to Dealer Against the Middleman

“Sight unseen.”

Those two words may give you an ulcer when you’re thinking about spending big money on a used car or truck. Surely you should be able to look at, touch, feel, in addition to, of course, drive the potential purchase. although here’s a surprise: Despite the drawbacks of buying a vehicle you haven’t seen up close, today’s online world can still be a safer place to buy a used car or truck than purchases done at a physical dealership.

In many cases, the online world offers better warranties, lower prices, in addition to a more hassle-free car buying in addition to trade-in experience. Unlike the bad old days of online car buying, you’re no longer dealing with an unknown seller on eBay through Hoboken, brand-new Jersey, with an assumed name like “FrankSinatraUsedCarsMyWay,” or a retail dealership in which negotiates a cost with you online in addition to then throws in a bogus dealer fee once you show up in person.

Today’s leading online sellers, such as Vroom in addition to Carvana, right now sell thousands of vehicles a month in addition to will literally bring your vehicle right to your front door at no charge. The prices are haggle-free. You see something you want? You click. You buy. in which’s This particular. (in addition to selling? Two C/D editors recently sold two of their personal cars online through Vroom; read about the experience here.)

The money-back guarantees on offer are incredibly long. If you drive This particular for seven days in addition to don’t like This particular, toss back the keys in addition to get your money back. Vroom offers a Worry-Free Warranty in which covers everything on your vehicle up to 0 days or 6000 miles. Carvana provides a 100-day, 4189-mile warranty. This particular’s a big risk to guarantee This particular much, in addition to customer reviews show in which even with such guarantees the buying experience doesn’t always work out. although these guarantees also offer a foundation of faith for those who are willing to buy in addition to test out a car, sight unseen.

They say imitation is actually the sincerest form of flattery, in addition to if all of these steps at eliminating uncertainty in addition to providing full disclosure sound familiar to you, they should. All these features in addition to assurances are a virtual carbon copy of the benefits CarMax has already offered for well over two decades.

CarMax remains the 800-pound gorilla of the used-car retail market with more than 500,000 vehicles sold in 2016 in addition to $623 million in net profit. The company right now has more than 150 locations where potential purchasers can kick the tires in real life before they make a decision on whether to buy. Each CarMax dealership contains hundreds of vehicles in which allow you to test drive a variety of vehicles back to back in addition to an equally hassle-free car buying experience.

although the benefits CarMax offers aren’t nearly as, well, beneficial. The retailer’s money-back guarantee is actually only not bad for 5 days, in addition to a 30-day limited warranty in which CarMax offers in most states is actually not nearly as comprehensive as one you might find through an auto dealership. in which may or may not be a big deal for you, although as the proverbial market leader, you would likely think in which CarMax would likely make up for in which by offering selling prices in which are at least competitive.

So can CarMax beat its online competitors? Here is actually a sampling of prices on similar products through Carmax in addition to two competitors.


Sometimes, yes. More often than not, no. For right right now, This particular seems Carvana has become the de facto cost leader of the three big players. although there’s a geographical catch: almost all of Carvana locations are from the southern half of the United States. in which means if you live in a place in which has snow in addition to sleet, you may want to see if cheap flights exist, or better yet, figure out the type of used-car shopper you genuinely are.

As an auto auctioneer in addition to owner of my own dealership for nearly 17 years right now, I have found in which most folks will fall into at least one of these categories:

The Sampler: You test drive everything on earth before creating the big decision. You start out thinking you may want a Mazda Miata, although then for some reason, you see a red three-year-old Toyota Camry SE in addition to say, “Hmm . . . maybe I’ll like in which! I do like red!” Samplers tend to buy with their eyes. If you like to sample a lot, start off at CarMax, although then do some online comparisons before whipping out in which checkbook. Chances are you might even wind up buying the one car in which has just the right shade of red, even if This particular winds up being a minivan.

The Road Tripper: These buyers are an ideal match for online purchasing because they know in which a one-way flight in addition to a couple of hotel rooms are the only things separating them through a fun-filled weekend with their next car. So if you ever wanted to take the winding road through Phoenix to Denver in a late-style car of your choice, find your car at the right locale, book a flight, in addition to enjoy the trip.

The Penny Pincher: If $100 in savings is actually worth an hour-long drive to the next dealership in addition to a three-hour wait while the sales staff “gets the numbers right,” then don’t bother with the traditional dealerships or the online alternatives. Instead go to Autotrader, Craigslist, or eBay. Track the vehicle in which interests you, in addition to when your vehicle listing is actually more than 60 days old (eBay sellers relist vehicles all the time), make an offer in which’s a thousand or two less than you might see through a big-three retailer. A lot of dealers wholesale their used inventory after 60 or 0 days. So if your money in addition to time is actually worth This particular, count your nickels, go online, in addition to don’t be surprised if the first few answers you get to your lowball offers are “No!” “Get lost!” in addition to “Have you lost your ability to reason?”

The Puritan: You are an open-minded soul who is actually willing to buy anything—as long as This particular’s a three-year-old silver Honda Accord EX-L loaded with options in addition to with 35,000 miles on the odometer. No Volkswagen Passats. No Nissan Altimas. No chance in hell of anything although in which Honda, in addition to This particular had better not have more than 35,000 miles or else you want $2000 off the cost! You could theoretically buy a Honda online, although even if the cost is actually right, This particular kind of buyer would likely still prefer going to a Honda dealer to get a certified pre-owned 2014 Honda Accord EX-L in which comes with three free oil improvements.

The Trader: You buy a nearly brand-new vehicle, drive This particular For just two to three years, in addition to then find something else in which’s nearly brand-new. Usually you are happiest testing cars at places such as a racing school or a rental-car outlet, where you can take a full-day test drive in addition to then see if the vehicle makes you smile. Online car-buying works with This particular kind of buyer, who tends to end up purchasing his or her number-one choice.

The Waffler: Wafflers turn a tiny ding on a car into an enormous dent of doubt in addition to an offer on a vehicle into “I know a guy down the street who will sell This particular for $2000 less. although I genuinely do like your car!” The online world was made for these people. Not to buy, just to shop for eternity. I trust This particular doesn’t describe you because if This particular does, you’re probably one of my relatives.

The DIYer: You go to a dealership once to buy, in addition to then never show up again because you can do all the repair in addition to maintenance yourself. You have a very specific idea as to what you want, right down to the options, in addition to you’ll be looking at the vehicle’s condition in addition to history before weighing the cost. Since nearly all the cars sold by Vroom, Carvana, in addition to CarMax are bought at dealer auctions you are an ideal neutral shopper, because you know exactly what you want in addition to what to do from the years ahead.

If you think we’re not emphasizing cost as much as you would likely expect, you would likely be absolutely correct. Here’s why: All of these retailers—both online in addition to traditional brick-in addition to-mortar dealerships—buy the bulk of their vehicles through wholesale dealer auctions, where the highest bidder becomes the brand-new owner. Everyone bids against everyone else, in addition to in which means the mom-in addition to-pop dealership has as much access to a not bad car as CarMax, Vroom, or anyone else using a used-car dealer license.

So look online, browse around for an hour or so, in addition to figure out which type of buyer you genuinely are. Just, please, for the sake of everyone around you, don’t become a penny-pinching waffler.

Steven Lang has been an auto auctioneer, car dealer, in addition to part owner of an auto auction for nearly two decades.

is actually Online Car Buying for You? Depends Which Kind of Shopper You Are

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