How to Buy a Car Online

There is no limit to the range of items you can buy online - everything is available for purchase on your computer, from archery equipment to zoology textbooks. Vehicles are not exempt from this list of treasures you can find on the world wide web. In fact, there are some advantages to shopping for a car or truck online. You save a lot of time and fuel perusing your options from your PC or laptop, and you will likely find gems you wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. When looking for your next new or new-to-you vehicle on the Internet, there are two primary means to do so - online auctions and online advertisements.

Method 1 of 2: Purchase a vehicle online through an auction

ebay car auction

Step 1: Register to an auction site. Register at an online auction site that either specializes in car sales (such as Copart) or has an automotive department (such as eBay). While all you may need to do for some is to enter and confirm your email address along with other personal details, other sites may require you to put a payment option on file to ensure you will follow through with any winning bids.

Step 2: Pick the right car for you. Search for the vehicle you want to buy using search parameters like make and model, along with anything else you consider essential, such as engine size or interior upholstery material. Carefully consider the results and thoroughly read the descriptions.

  • Take notes of any issues that will require repair.

chevy camaro price listing in site on a laptop

Step 3: Find the value of the vehicle. Once you find a vehicle that interests you, consult a site like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds, or NADA to see what it is actually worth in its current condition. If the vehicle will require parts or repairs, price those as well, either by calling a local mechanic for a ballpark figure or by checking a site like AutoZone.

Step 4: Decide on your budget. Using the information you discovered with online research in the previous step, decide how much you are willing to spend on that vehicle, bearing in mind there will be additional costs to travel in person to pick it up or have it delivered to you (delivery costs are often available for reference from the auction site).

Step 5: Bid on the car. Place a bid for the vehicle and monitor the auction periodically to see if you have been outbid. If that happens, you can always bid a higher amount, but take care not to get caught up in the excitement of bidding and go over your budget.

Step 6: Make the payment. If you have the highest bid on the vehicle and win the auction, immediately follow up with the seller and make payment according to the auction site’s policies. Arrange for the pickup or delivery of the vehicle and its title, and enjoy your purchase.

Method 2 of 2: Shop for a vehicle through online classifieds or advertisements

Step 1: Search through classifieds. Visit an variety of local online classifieds and look through the vehicles that are listed for sale. The web-based version of your local newspaper or Craigslist are popular classifieds choices, although there may be more options in your region as well.

handwritten vehicle list

Step 2: Create a list. Make a list of vehicles that interest you with the make, model, asking price, and seller’s contact information, then research the values of those cars on a site like Kelley Blue Book. Use that information to narrow that list, bearing in mind that the asking price is often negotiable.

Step 3: Test and inspect your choices. Contact the sellers of the vehicles that remain on your list, asking any questions you may have and setting up a time for an inspection and test drive.

  • Show up at each appointment on time and look the vehicle over thoroughly, including under the hood, in the trunk, and at the tires.

Step 4: Have a mechanic check the car. If you are not knowledgeable in auto mechanics, ask to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic. This is not an unusual request, and most sellers will allow you to do this.

Step 5: Make an offer. Armed with all of the information about the vehicle you can reasonably obtain, decide if you want to buy it and make an offer that is within your budget and also fair to the seller.

  • Bear in mind that the seller may make a counteroffer, and there may be a little haggling involved.

Step 6: Purchase the vehicle. If you and the seller come to an agreement, you can complete the purchase, including the signing over of the title. Then, enjoy your new vehicle that you shopped for online.

With online auctions, the entire purchase is often complete before you even lay eyes on your new vehicle. When shopping online classifieds, the actual exchange of money and keys usually takes place in person. Explore both options, and decide which one is best for you.


Next Step

Schedule Pre-purchase Car Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Pre-purchase Car Inspection. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(5,189)

Rating Summary
4,847
184
37
38
83
4,847
184
37
38
83

Attila

19 years of experience
906 reviews
Attila
19 years of experience
Cadillac SRX V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Edison, New Jersey
Attila was great! Very knowledgeable and actually detected a fault during a pre-purchase inspection that would have cost me later.
Lexus ES350 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Fords, New Jersey
He is very good—offered all the significant details we needed from the inspection. Helped us figure out what needed to be fixed.

Shawn

12 years of experience
285 reviews
Shawn
12 years of experience
Chevrolet Impala V6-3.6L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Lansdale, Pennsylvania
Shawn was prompt, professional, and delivered the promised service as expected. This was a used vehicle pre-purchase inspection. Shawn also had to drive to multiple locations to perform the inspection, as the address listed that I provided him with was not accurate, but he still made it to the correct location within his time window and completed the inspection.
Toyota Sequoia - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Akron, Pennsylvania
Shawn was very prompt in communicating with me and was good at helping me decide whether to purchase a used car. He help me avoid a car with a repaired rusted frame that could be a danger to my family's safety since we were planning on using the car to tow a travel trailer!

Luis

18 years of experience
320 reviews
Luis
18 years of experience
Honda HR-V L4-1.8L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Warren, New Jersey
Luis was great. He showed up on time, acted professionally, and gave me confidence with a pre-purchase car inspection.
Acura RDX - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - South Hackensack, New Jersey
Luis did a thorough pre-purchase inspection for me, and found several major issues that made me pass on buying the car. Had I purchased the car, I almost certainly would have ended up paying thousands in repairs down the road. Thanks Luis!

Robert

20 years of experience
1089 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Hyundai Elantra L4-2.0L - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Englewood, Colorado
He did a pre-purchase inspection for me. He was knowledgeable and fast, and knew what he was looking for. I really appreciate all the pictures and documentation he took of the state of the car before purchase. He noted potential issues with the car that I wouldn't have been able to notice. Would recommend.
GMC Savana 1500 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Golden, Colorado
I trust Robert. He gave me a list and we will take care of it the week of June 29. I will know then that my vehicle is ready for the winter and is safe to drive. I look forward to getting things ready for another winter of careful driving.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How to Replace a Lost or Stolen Car Title in Kansas
For For those who own a car they have a car title that proves this ownership. Keeping this title somewhere safe is of the utmost of importance, which usually doesn’t mean storing it in your car. If the unfortunate should...
How to Find a Concept Car
Concept Concept cars represent possible future versions of manufacturer vehicles. Designed to highlight new technologies and vehicle styling, concept cars often find their way into the public eye during annual auto shows held around the globe. Whether a concept vehicle...
What it Really Costs to Maintain a Standard Car vs Luxury Car
Luxury cars are more expensive than a standard car off the lot, and maintenance costs more. An Acura TL costs $100 more per year than a Honda Accord.

Related questions

What are roller rockers for and what would cause them to have rust
Roller rockers are used to push down the valve spring with less resistance than a traditional rocker. The entire valve train should be constantly bathed in oil when the engine is running and the rollers could only get rust on...
My car rpm fluctuates slightly, during warm up and my temperature gauge also fluctuates intermittently.
Hi, thanks for writing in. My first impression when you described the vibration is that you may have a bad motor mount. When you put the car in Drive or Reverse, the engine shifts slightly. If the rubber in the...
Choosing a new car... Lexus GX 460 or Mercedes GL (gas or diesel)
I personally prefer diesel over gas because they generally last longer. I would also go with Mercedes over Lexus but that is just my personal opinion. I have worked on both types of vehicles and would rather work on a...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com