Buying a used car is different than purchasing a brand-new vehicle. In person, you can visually inspect the car, look under the hood, and take it for a test drive. Leaks, dents, and evidence of extensive auto bodywork are often quite evident. When you sit in the vehicle, you can get a feel for it and try out all the features. However, you can’t do any of these things online.
Not that you shouldn’t search for cars online, that’s just fine. Kind of like window shopping on the web. You can get a feel for what inventory used car dealerships have and then itemize your top choices. But there are some situations you can’t plan for while shopping for cars online, especially used cars.
Here is why it’s best to NOT buy used cars online:
- You Don’t Know the Condition of the Car – When you’re shopping for a particular make, model, and year, you can expect pretty much the same from one new car to another. But the condition of one used car to another can vary greatly. It depends on how the previous owner maintained the vehicle and kept it clean. Hidden damage from previous accidents and/or floods can be problematic as well.
- The Photos May Not Be Accurate – Even if a used car is listed with photos, you can’t prove these are decent shots of the vehicle you’re looking for. Stock photos are commonly uploaded. You might not know the vehicle’s true condition or exterior or interior color. Once you see the car in person, it might not be the same make or model you saw online.
- No Face-to-Face Interaction with Salespeople – Some used car salesmen have a bad rap; others are honest and helpful. When interacting face-to-face, you can ask questions and gauge the individual’s honesty from cues such as verbal tones and facial expressions. Online, it can be hard to determine reputability or if the party you’re in touch with is truthful.
- Delivery Hassles – If you buy a used car online, you can’t drive it off the lot. It might be several weeks before you receive the vehicle. There may be additional delays due to paperwork, state DMV documentation, and shipping issues. The used car site may also charge shipping fees, oftentimes the entire cost of shipping. Plus, any limited guarantee the car comes with might expire before it’s delivered to you.
- Compliance with State Regulations – You don’t always know what state the car is coming from. The used vehicle may come from Pennsylvania, but if you live in California, it may not comply with the state’s stringent emissions standards. It’s therefore important to do your research, as each state regulates automobiles in a different way and has different documentation requirements.
- It’s More Difficult to Manage Problems – Used car dealerships often include warranties and service packages. Not only is it less likely these will be available with your online auto purchase, but it’s harder to find someone to help resolve a problem if it occurs. Finding a representative to complain to or start the process of fixing the issue can be hard. On the other hand, having a local representative to speak with makes things simpler.
Buying a used car is much simpler when you do so locally. You never know when an online seller is hiding something, especially if they don’t provide detailed pictures from all angles or refuse to provide a vehicle history report. At CarWorld in Hawthorne, CA, we employ a safe and sound process for buying used cars. Each vehicle is carefully inspected, inside and out, before it is made available on our lot.