How to Avoid Online Car Deal Mistakes

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Buying a car should be a pleasurable experience, , though for some of us it may be anything but. Even with careful research, consumers may find that the car they purchased isn’t what they thought it would be. Or, they may have paid more for the car than they should have. Car shopping online can help you secure a better deal as you use the Internet to compare offers. Even so, there are certain mistakes consumers would be smart to avoid.

Mistake No. 1 — Not Conducting a Test Drive

You secured the best deal possible online and you’re proud of yourself. Unfortunately, you made a grave mistake by not testing the car you intend to purchase. For some reason you skipped this step thinking a test drive of the same model at another dealer was sufficient.

This is a big mistake because no two cars are alike. You should always test the car you intend to purchase to determine if it meets your requirements. Little things can slip your notice from model to model, including the comfort of the driver’s seat, differences between infotainment systems and whether you receive a full-size spare or a donut. Come up short in any area and you will find yourself disappointed and possibly paying extra money to rectify the shortcomings.

Mistake No. 2 — Limiting Your Search Area

Clearly, if you plan to purchase a car, you want to buy locally because it is convenient. But buying locally may mean that you miss out on better deals that are just outside of your region.

Some car manufacturers limit the number of showrooms in metropolitan areas to two or three dealerships. While this practice is a boon to the dealer, it can limit the number of choices for consumers.

You don’t have to have your new car serviced at the same place you purchased it. There are plenty of reasons why it makes sense to, but if you find a better deal at a location further from your area, it may be worthwhile for you to go the extra mile to save money.

Mistake No. 3 — Not Calling Your Insurance Agent

In your excitement to shop for a new car and secure the best online deal possible, you forgot a critically important step. And that is to call your insurance agent to discuss the model you have in mind and to receive an insurance quote.

Certainly, most any new car will result in higher insurance premiums than your old car. What shocks some buyers is to learn that insurers seem to have it in for certain models, especially those with high-performance engines and average to poor crash test results.

The time to have a discussion with your insurance agent is before you settle on a model. But even if you are firm in your choice, you should know what to expect. Those big online savings can erode quickly if your insurance payments add hundreds to your car costs each year.

Mistake No. 4 — Considering Monthly Payments Above All Else

You aim to hold your monthly car payments below $300 and are laser-focused on that goal. Trouble is, you may find yourself bleeding money elsewhere in a bid to reach that objective.

Instead of focusing on your payments, concentrate on securing the best deal possible. Financing is important, but not at the expense of negotiating your price. Nail down the price on your new car first, and then determine how much money to put down. You should also contact your bank or credit union to compare rates. In some cases, opting for cash back over low-rate financing may be best. If your payments are still too high, then it might be better to consider a different model altogether.

Mistake No. 5 — Rushing the Deal

When you shop online, you feel so much power on your side. Indeed, the worldwide web breaks down barriers, but it also erects a barrier between you and a salesman, one that you control. No longer must you turn heel and flee a showroom if the salesperson annoys you. When shopping online, you can choose to ignore anyone you want to avoid.

But there is a downside to shopping online that is apparent elsewhere — you might rush the deal, especially if a pop-up ad or other notice tells you that the deal is coming to an end. Like today. Or right now.

Just as it is important to have a level head when you negotiate in person, you need to maintain your composure when interacting with the dealer’s Internet sales team. Know the price you want to pay before you negotiate and take your time comparing offers.

Lastly, if you need to buy a new car because your current ride died or was wrecked in a crash, it might be better to rent a car until you’re ready to buy new. If the salesperson knows about your unfortunate circumstance, he or she may be less willing to offer you the best deal.

Mistake No. 6 — Talking Trade without Enough Information

When should you tell the dealer that you want to trade in your vehicle? That’s a conversation that should wait until after you have all the information about your new vehicle, especially its price.

You should also take steps to learn your car’s value. With that information in hand before you begin shopping for a car, you’ll know how much car you can afford. Keep in mind you may get more for a car if you sell to a private party, but it is also more work for you.

Avoid Mistakes

The online car shopping environment is certainly different than in-person buying. There’s a chance that mistakes can be made in either environment, but those potential missteps are avoidable. With tens of thousands of dollars on the line, it is important for consumers everywhere to shop carefully and only sign a contract once they’re confident that they have received the best deal possible.


By | 2018-02-13T20:53:07+00:00 October 2nd, 2015|Car Buying|3 Comments


  1. Nate October 2, 2015 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    Yeah, if they try to pressure you to buy it without a test drive, that is bad news. Run!

  2. Joe October 4, 2015 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Car Fax is not worth the money the report is written on. They are negligent in their reporting, and have no real way of contacting them. Even on this site…do you see any phone number? Why? Probably because people like me would be on the line all day and night with complaints.

  3. CAR FOX October 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Joe,

    You can reach out regarding any issues by clicking the link below:

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