3 Essentials to Buying a Car Online

3-Essentials-To-Buying-Car-Online-2The 2008 bailout of America’s biggest automakers, along with other economic factors, caused General Motors to shut down roughly 40 percent of its U.S. dealerships in the past three years. As a result, dealers are turning to the web to display, market and sell their cars. Prospective buyers may be hesitant to complete a purchase of a new or used vehicle online, but the process can be simple and painless when some general guidelines are followed.


Payment and Financing

One of the more common concerns when it comes to buying a car online is giving your personal information to someone you’ve never met. Shopping for a vehicle on the web can be a money-saving option for those considering bad credit auto loans and those with premium credit. Scam artists are equal opportunity however. If you’re buying from a private seller on E-bay or another auction site, check their ratings and feedback from previous customers before paying a deposit. Dealerships will likely have social media pages as well, where you can read what other customers are saying about them. When buying from an online dealership, ask for a copy of the car’s title so you can use the VIN number to order a vehicle history report. No personal information, including credit card and social security numbers, should be given to anyone until you have verified who and what they are. Scammers are clever and will build a very legitimate-looking “Ford” website that turns out to be fraudulent. A quick check on the Better Business Bureau’s website of the dealership will verify its true identity and help you decide whether you want to do business with them.


Beware of Low Offers

The stories are fairly consistent. “I am being deployed to Afghanistan so am selling my 2009 Honda pilot for $6,000,” is the typical Craigslist scam ad. Granted there will be a few of these out there which are legitimate, exercising due diligence will prevent you from being victimized. These offers should only be considered if you can see and drive the car before purchasing it. Online valuators such as KBB will give you the true value of the car so you can compare the offer to its actual worth. Low-priced vehicles should be thoroughly inspected by a mechanic of your choice to determine any major engine or transmission issues. All the paint should match perfectly and the frame should be flush. Any flaws may indicate the car has been in an accident and reveal the real reasons why it is being sold so cheaply.


Use Credit Card For Deposit

Once you have decided on your next vehicle, the seller will likely ask for a deposit. Buyers should always use a personal credit card (not a debit card) so they get the limited liability protection most cards offer in case of fraud. Once money is wired or sent via debit card, the chances getting it back are slim. If the seller vehemently insists you use some specific form of payment and asks you to do things that don’t seem normal, chances are its a scam.