How to buy a car online?

Written by 
Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
Our authors
, updated on November 25th, 2021       

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Who knew that one day consumers will be able to shop for a car at the comfort of their home. Buying a car has become easier with many platforms such as Cars Sales, Auto Trader, Gumtree and Cars Guide to name a few offering services where you can buy a car. But how do you avoid being duped into buying a car that is a lemon? These five handy tips will help you navigate buying a car online that isn’t a dud at the click of a button.

Research your desired car

The perks of being able to buy a car online are endless. According to Roy Morgan, 67% of Australians, 42% of men and 25% of women, are now willing to buy a car entirely online. If it is not the convenience of buying from the comfort of your home, it is the experience of having no pressure to buy from a smooth salesperson. 64% of Australians felt buying a car online was easier than dealing with a salesperson. Although researching a car can be time-consuming, it can be fruitful once you find your desired car.

To start out your search you need to know what you are looking for, and what is your set budget. Once you know this you will be able to narrow your search online by finding cars that have are within your desired age, colour and price. With the power of online buying, you can compare the same model for various prices to find the best deal that suits you.

Once you have created a search list of things that are a must-have in your car you will be able to narrow down car offers you come across. You now have the ideal car in mind, now it is time to deepen the research. By using the internet to buy your ideal car has its perks in that you will be able to use car reviews and feedback from other people who have bought your desired car to make a more informed decision. However, if there is one ultimate thing that you should do above all is to use safety ratings from the Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) which rates cars out of a five-star rating system to determine how safe it is on the roads.

Have an inspection checklist

Perhaps one of the drawbacks of buying a car online is that you don’t know whether the car is up to standard or if you are being catfished into buying a lemon. All might look well on the outside but having a car inspection checklist will help you avoid buying something that will go bust within a few months of purchase. You can pair your checklist with an online search of the vehicle to see if it is not stolen or has outstanding fees to it.

Get your finances ready

It is always best to have your finances ready before you go for the car inspection to make sure that when you spot your ideal car, you will be able to purchases without any delay. You can get a pre-approval car loan which will help you have a cap on your budget to avoid overspending. It will also help you negotiate a better deal.

Take it out for a test drive

The car could have passed your inspection checklist, but does it match up when it is put on the road? Plan a day or two, if the owner is willing to allow you, to take the car out on to various roads and weather conditions to see how it fares. It will be best to bring a friend along or someone who you know won’t be biased in analysing the car. A no distraction policy is helpful when taking the car out for a drive. This means putting away cell phones and turning off the radio to listen to the car. It will help you listen to sounds that the car makes to help you decide.

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