Buying Cars Online: The Pros and Cons

There are many statistics available that show different results related to buying cars online. However, to compare car shopping online vs. offline at dealerships, the YouGov 2021 survey on 1,873 drivers by The Motor Ombudsman shows relevant data.

In fact, amid the digital transition today, most car buyers (62%) still prefer to buy cars offline at dealerships. The main reasons are solid; they can test drive, see the vehicle in person, and get information directly from sellers.

Still, online shopping for new and used cars has also started to grow since the pandemic. Among those who enjoy shopping for cars online, 67% stated that online shopping enabled them to compare prices more easily. 

Moreover, some also stated that they found more car options online than at dealerships or from marketers. Especially during the pandemic, buying cars online gave more accessibility as many stores were temporarily closed due to Covid restrictions.

In the following years, car shoppers will be dominated by young millennials and Gen Z, who are experts at using the internet and digital devices. Therefore we can expect more growth in buying cars online, which is also in line with another survey finding that people aged 18-24 are interested in buying cars through devices.

The Pros and Cons of Buying a Car Online

When it comes to buying a car, there are both advantages and disadvantages to purchasing online versus at a dealership. The main advantage of buying a car online is convenience. You can browse hundreds of cars from home or anywhere without visiting multiple dealerships, saving countless hours.

Additionally, buying online provides more transparency in terms of pricing, as you can easily compare prices across multiple dealerships or private sellers. However, there are also some potential drawbacks to buying a car online. 

For example, you may not be able to inspect the car in person before purchasing it, which could result in receiving a vehicle in a different condition than expected. Buying a car online may be more suitable for those who are experienced and knowledgeable about cars. But, first-time buyers may need help from a salesperson to identify the best car for their needs.

Purchasing a vehicle online vs at a dealership

There are specific individuals who may find it particularly advantageous to buy a car online, such as busy individuals, car buyers looking for a specific model, and buyers with excellent knowledge about cars.

Meanwhile, buying a car offline may also be good for groups like first-time buyers who need sales guidance, and buyers who want to test drive. Then, buyers who want to trade cars or look for finance options.

Tips before attempting to buy a car online

If you’re attempting to buy a car online, here are some important points to prepare for:

  • Research the seller: It’s crucial to research the seller carefully to ensure they are reputable and trustworthy.
    Look for reviews or ratings from other buyers. Also, check for any red flags such as poor communication or inconsistent information.
  • Conduct a thorough inspection: While you may not be able to see the car in person before buying it, conduct a thorough inspection by requesting detailed photos or explainer videos and asking for information about the car’s history and condition. 
  • Consider the logistics: Buying a car online may require additional logistics, such as arranging for shipping or delivery of the vehicle. Be sure to factor in these considerations when making your decision.
  • Check for financing options: If you plan to finance your car purchase, research your options in advance to ensure you can secure a loan with favorable terms.
  • Negotiate: Just like when buying a car in person, online car buying may involve negotiation over price, financing terms, or other factors. Be prepared to advocate for yourself and negotiate for the best possible deal.


Shopping for a car online is undoubtedly challenging. But here are some more tips to help you succeed in the mission of buying a new car via devices.

  • Consider the risks and benefits: While online car buying can be convenient, it’s essential to carefully weigh the risks and benefits before deciding. Consider the seller’s reliability, the vehicle’s condition, and the logistics of arranging delivery or pickup.
  • Leverage online tools: Many online car-buying platforms offer a variety of tools and resources to help buyers make informed decisions. These may include detailed vehicle descriptions, photos and videos, vehicle history reports, and financing calculators.
  • Research financing options: If you plan to finance your car purchase, research your options and compare rates from multiple lenders. Consider interest rates, loan terms, and any fees or penalties.
  • Get a pre-purchase inspection: If possible, having the vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic before making a purchase is recommended. This can help identify any potential issues or problems with the car.
  • Try to negotiate and ask for deals: Just like when buying a car in person, online car buying may involve negotiation over price or other factors, especially if you want to buy a used car. 

Consider creating a plan where you pen down vital information, so it’s easier to compare products and draw a final decision.