Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated February 21, 2009)
In today's world we typically want the quick and easy solution to our errands and problems. It is interesting, though, how often our errands are our problems. Take for example the errand and problem of buying a car.
Historically, when we have needed—or wanted—to buy a new or used car it was an ordeal that bordered upon the nightmarish. Days, sometimes weeks or months, are filled with exhausting research, pushy and over-bearing salespeople, traffic, bad weather, rising gas prices, wasted time, insurance, comparative shopping... The list goes on and on! No wonder that many people rank car shopping somewhere slightly above getting a root canal...without Novocain.
Recently things have changed. This is because of that wonderful innovation called the Internet. With the Internet a savvy shopper can do almost everything in the car-buying process online, from anywhere at anytime. By being able to do most of the traditionally painful ordeal from the comfort of your home, office or local Internet cafe, a vast majority of the pain is removed. The buyer must beware though!
So, how does the smart and safe shopper know that they are getting what they ordered, and that the information they give over the Internet will be kept safe? The simplest answer is to only deal with trusted sources. Such sources can include, but are not limited to, Websites such as eBay, Yahoo!, Google, local car dealers, and national car companies.
When you utilize one of these types of websites, and before sending any payment, ensure that a secure method of payment (i.e., PayPal on eBay) is available. Something else that you will want to keep in mind, particularly if you are using a Website such as eBay, is to look at the vendor's reputation. In the instance of local car dealerships, this would entail checking with the Better Business Bureau. While not 100% accurate all of the time, this is a good way to help judge who to buy from.
When you start looking at the basic cost of the car that you may purchase online, remember to do your research (which can be done online as well). This research would include finding the average cost of the vehicle in which you are interested (the Kelly Blue Book can help with this determination), as well as the vehicle's average depreciation and resale values.
Don't forget, as well, that when you shop online you are responsible for getting the car from the seller to you. This isn't normally a problem when purchasing through a local dealer, or even through a national car company. (National car companies often arrange delivery through their local dealer network.) If you are purchasing from a private individual or a company that is not local, then you need to figure out how to get the car to your doorstep. This can involve travel or delivery expenses; make sure you factor them into your total purchase price.
In the end, purchasing a car online can be a fun and easy process that saves considerable time and energy when compared to traditional car-buying methods. Just remember to be smart about what you do; and as always, keep in mind the old adage: "let the buyer beware."
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