Buying Cars Online: Safe or No? | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Buying Cars Online: Safe or No?

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A view of a computer screen surrounded by different notes with writing on them. There is an image of a car on the screen and you can see a person's hands at the keyboard and mouse buying cars online.

With more and more online businesses starting every day, it’s no surprise that more consumers are starting to make their purchases online. Nowadays, there are even apps and businesses that are centered around consumers buying cars only online. Is it safe or better to buy online vs at a dealership? Use these tips when you are considering buying cars online!


New Cars

The amount of new cars sold in the last 7 years has rose steadily since 2009. That means each year, more and more new cars have been sold in the U.S. than years before. The economy is better, people are making more and baby boomers are buying bigger. 2015 saw around 17.5 million trucks and cars sold, with 17.6 million in 2016.


When buying new, it’s good to know that the average car price is around $35,000. That’s a full year’s salary for some, which is why payment plans are popular with buying new cars. An approximate number of cars sold in the U.S. each year is 14 million. Reference reports that it equals 38,356 cars sold on a daily basis. CNN Business reported that 2016 car loans were estimated to be about $1.1 trillion dollars.


A view of a couple in the evening that are looking at a car site online.

Buying Cars Online

Buying cars online that are new is often an easier task that buying used cars. These cars are free of accidents and use, cutting down the hassle of viewing car reports. No matter if you’re buying new or used, buying cars online will open up your possibilities to literally any type of vehicle you want, which is vastly different than a dealership’s limited selection.


Buying cars online is a major trend that is growing as the years pass. It’s simply easier for some consumers to buy online rather than make the (sometimes far) trip to a dealership. Buying new cars online is definitely safe, and you may be directed to local dealerships selling the car so you can see it in person before you buy. When buying cars from foreign brands or sources, you will likely make the purchase online, where it will then have to be shipped by boat to the U.S. and then transferred to your city. The process can be a bit longer than buying within the U.S. With online buying, you can sometimes buy vehicles before they hit the dealerships. The process is similar for buying cars that are used.


Buying Used Cars Online

When buying cars online, most of the consumers are looking for used cars, which can be a tricky business to navigate. You can’t know the exact care a car has received by a driver, even though you can get a good idea from some reports. No matter if you are just interested in looking around online or you are serious about buying cars online, do your homework and know what you want. Do you research on different makes, models and car companies to know if you are getting a vehicle that is supposed to last many years or just a few.


Knowing what you want before you go online can help you narrow down your search. You may even be able to look at specific dealerships in your town online and see the inventory of used cars they have. If you are able to, go see specific cars in-person at local dealerships before buying cars that are similar online so you know you like the look and feel. From there, find a few options online that you like, but only shop at trusted websites known for their quality.


Carfax is a popular online source to for buying cars both new and used, while also receiving a history report of any damages, repairs and car accidents a car has had. For some vehicles, there may even be a history report of maintenance checks. Popular Mechanics list their top sites for selling and buying cars online here. There are great resources such as these that can make your online buying experience much easier and safer than other online places.


A view of a desktop computer , keyboard and mouse. There is a person's hand coming out of the screen holding new car keys.

Tips to Utilize

No matter if you are buying new or used, check reports online. Consumer Reports has a yearly list of all the best new cars consumers love. They also make reports of used cars you don’t want to buy and reasons you want to avoid those makes and models. They also make similar reports of the steps you want to take when buying cars. Those include:

  • Test drive models you like at a dealership, while letting workers know you’re not buying new.
  • Find a make and model you like, then see what local dealerships have to offer via email (not phone).
  • Don’t give in to deals that you will receive by dealerships immediately. Some shopping around and bargaining can get you much lower prices instead of impulse buys.
  • Local dealerships may be worth a few extra dollars than buying cars from a farther dealer, as local shops may give you extra deals.
  • Make sure you’ve set up a car loan ahead of time with a trusted company so you are actually able to buy a car when one you want becomes available.


So is buying online safe or not? In our opinion, yes, if you do your research before buying. If you’re not able to put in the kind of effort it takes to buy a quality used car online, stick to a dealership with their smaller inventory. When you’ve bought a new vehicle that needs it’s first maintenance check or you’re needing a used car looked at before buying, contact Scott’s Fort Collins Auto at (970) 682-4202!

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