The internet revolution has seen a dramatic shift in consumers’ buying habits and preferences. The exact change is also witnessed in the car retail industry. Instead of roaming through several dealerships, interacting with pushy salespersons. And negotiating for hours at a time, customers can now buy cars online without leaving their homes.
The stress of visiting dealerships and private sellers has also increased twofold due to the coronavirus pandemic. People prefer shopping online to limit physical interaction and handle transactions safely. While the pandemic severely affected the automobile retail industry and stalled the automotive industry, sales have improved considerably this year. Car sales are surging due to strong consumer demand.
Early this year, Cox Automotive predicted that the new automobile sales for 2021 would range from about 15.6 to 16 million vehicles. This is an increase of 7.6% to 10.3% compared to last year. After the end of the first quarter, Marklines.com reported a drastic 61.9% increase in light-vehicle sales in the U.S. than in March 2020.
Even though the world is slowly returning to normalcy, automakers are trying to provide a streamlined service to customers still wary of venturing into the world after months of lockdown. Consequently, you can upgrade your car or buy a new one without setting foot in a dealership. Here is how you can do that:
Set a budget
Before you can embark on your car-buying journey, you need to make some important decisions; one of these is the amount you are willing to spend.
You need to set a realistic budget, keeping in mind that the final cost is often higher than the sticker price. You have to pay for car insurance and possible repairs right away, while the maintenance, parking, and fuel are running costs of vehicle ownership. In case you plan to take a loan, consider the interest that you will incur in addition to the monthly payments.
Once you have an estimated spending amount, it narrows down your list of options bringing you a step closer to owning a new car.
Decide the car and model
Some buyers have a clear picture of what they want, including the make and model, color, and trim. If you are one of them, you can skip over this section.
However, if you are unsure of the car that best suits your need, consider your priorities. A young, first-time car owner will have a different set of requirements than one with a family and kids. Therefore, determine the must-have features pertinent to safety, technology, convenience, trunk size, and so on. Also, analyze your everyday commute and possible fuel consumption, if relevant, and jot down everything you want but might not need.
The internet offers you the ripe opportunity to look at hundreds of cars without visiting tens of dealerships. Once you have a vague idea of the features that best suit your need, you can begin searching for the right car. Numerous sites allow you to search for specific vehicles based on the price, size, fuel efficiency, and more.
Find your car and look for deals
The next step is to search for a specific make and model on car selling websites and online dealerships. When you plan to buy car online, these platforms offer a vast inventory of both new and used automobiles to ensure that you can easily get your dream vehicle. When you have found what you are looking for, check the online reviews on the particular dealership to ensure their reliability.
Keep a lookout for deals or money-saving incentives by:
- Checking the desired car manufacturers’ site
- Contacting individual dealerships to inquire if they are offering incentives
- Visiting websites that accumulate the best deals, offers, rebates, and incentive on popular models in one place
In addition, you can take advantage of low-interest financing offer that can lower or eliminate the interest on the car loan. You can also opt for subsidized lease deals, thereby reducing the cost due at signing.
Contact the dealership
Once you have found your dream car, you can contact the dealership via chat, email, or phone. The one-on-one conversation will help you learn about the vehicle in detail and get a quote from the sales manager.
However, avoid buying the first car you find. Spending a little more time researching and communicating with different dealerships can give you a clear idea of the retail worth of the vehicle. This can protect you from being ripped off by a smooth-talking salesperson or alert you about a possible scam if the price is unbelievably low.
If you plan to buy a used car, ask for a copy of its history report or vehicle identification number (VIN). These will help you check the car’s history (if it has been in an accident and undergone a repair) as well as its registration history.
Set up a test drive
A test drive allows you to judge the car intimately and comprehend its subtleties. While more and more dealerships offer virtual car tours. You can also opt for a test drive in the same vehicle you are planning to buy.
You can easily arrange for a salesperson to bring the automobile to your home. And leave it with you for a pre-determined allotted time. A test drive around the block or on your most-traveled routes. Can provide you more confidence about the quality of the car and whether it is the right fit for you or not.
Get the car delivered
While online shopping is quickly becoming a norm, the pandemic saw a surge in digital car purchasing. Consequently, various dealers offer to deliver the car right at your doorstep along with the sales documents for signing.
Before signing over the dotted line, verify that the vehicle is the one you approved. After the test drive or have the year, make, and model of the car you chose online. Make sure that it is in perfect condition, without any scratches or dents.
You can also use the home-delivery option even if you are trading in your old car. The sales rep will most likely quote you a price beforehand. Based on the current mileage, overall condition, make, model, etc., of the old car. The sales manager can inspect the old car when they come for a drop-off before concluding the deal.
The digitalization of the automobile buying process has offered a level of convenience that was not possible before. Now you can find your desired car online, take a virtual tour, transfer funds digitally. And get the car delivered to your home.