Tips for buying a car online

Couple in kitchen looking at computer

When it comes to online shopping, buying a car online may not be at the top of your list. And why not? Buying a car online is easier than ever. So, if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, and you’re considering looking online, here are some tips for getting some nice new wheels without leaving your sofa.

Know your budget

As always with car shopping, the best first step is to know what you can afford. Consider that the total amount you have available in your monthly budget to spend on a vehicle – as well as any other additional expenditures.

Also decide if you’re going to purchase, lease, or finance your new vehicle. You may want to schedule an appointment with a financial advisor to review your options.

Compare your bank’s financing products with those of your local dealerships. You might find that a dealer offers better financing terms – sometimes even 0% interest – but this information will help you understand your price range.

Beyond the vehicle purchase, there are additional expenses to consider. This includes the vehicle’s running costs (such as gas, routine service, and licencing fees) as well as other necessities, such as winter tires and car insurance.

Speak with your local agent and get a quote for the vehicle you are looking to purchase.

New or used?

Are you looking to purchase a brand-new car, or one that is used? There are many used cars available for sale online, but new car dealers are also getting in on the act, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Your budget will likely be a big determining factor in this new-or-used choice but remember there is an area in between that can yield good bargains – slightly used models. These are new vehicles that have been driven by dealer employees themselves and for customer test drives. They generally have a few thousand kilometers on them but haven’t previously been “owned” (in the traditional sense) and are usually offered at a substantial discount compared to vehicles that are new.

If you’re looking to purchase a classic vehicle, we’ve published an article with tips to help find your dream car.

Do your homework

Before looking for actual vehicles, research brands and models that are most likely to fit your everyday needs. Having just one or two specific models on your list will save you a lot of time when you get looking.

It’s also very useful to check independent sources of information about the reliability, service needs and resale value of different makes and models. Canada has a number of automotive media outlets that review vehicles of all shapes and sizes, but also consider Consumer Reports or from the Automobile Protection Association.

Things you’ll need to do in person

Though you can’t take a car for a test drive online, you can in many cases  arrange for a test drive virtually and have the car brought to your door. Sometimes there is paperwork involved, which results in an agreement for a short-term rental of the vehicle. Some new car dealers will not charge for this service, though some might.

Once you’ve agreed to a purchase, you’ll also likely need to sign the final sale documentation in person, but that can also be done at your doorstep when the vehicle is delivered. If you’re not leasing or financing the vehicle through the dealer, a trip to your bank to sign loan documents might also be necessary.

Arranging car insurance

Of course, whether you buy a new or used vehicle in person or online, you need to have the right car insurance. It’s not just sensible, it’s the law.

Car insurance can be easily arranged by contacting your insurance professional. To find the nearest Allstate agency, click here. Have information about your new vehicle at hand, including its Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

Once you are the proud owner of a new vehicle, familiarize yourself with all its features to ensure you know how they work. Some tips to do so are here.

Disclaimer: This information has been provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice.