Buying a car online vs in-person
Not sure whether to buy your next car online or face-to-face through a dealership? Find out which is best.
We’re committed to our readers and editorial independence. We don’t compare all products in the market and may receive compensation when we refer you to our partners, but this does not influence our opinions or reviews. Learn more about Finder .
When you're buying a car, one of the questions to consider is whether you want to do it online or in person. While there are pros and cons to each, depending on your buying style, you might have been doing it wrong all this time.
Buying from a dealership allows you to speak to experts face-to-face. However, you might not get as good a deal. Dealerships have more overheads than online retailers, and those overheads will usually be covered by the price of the cars.
Buying a car online can remove the some of the hassle involved with dealing with salespeople. Not to mention, it can save you money. However, it might also be more confusing - if you don't know what you're doing.
The differences between buying online or buying through a dealership
The difference between buying online vs in person is mostly a difference in the shopping experience followed by the same buying experience. A test run, followed by driving away in a car that you hopefully didn't pay too much for. It's much of a muchness, either way.
These are the main differences that come with looking for a car online, vs heading over to a dealership:
In-person at a dealership
Top 4 reasons you should shop online first
When it comes down to it, it might just be a case of personal preference. However, we would suggest that at the very least that you do some online browsing before heading over to a dealership.
When you buy in person, you get efficiency and the ability to ask your car dealer all the questions you need answers to before buying. But, that's basically it. By going online first, you can reap even more benefits:
1. Get a good idea of prices
If you can find a new car for a certain price online, or even a used car in equivalent condition, you might have a lot more bargaining power. You could even try asking a dealer to price match.
2. Do thorough research
3. Filter your search
Imagine walking into a car dealership and telling them to show you only cars of a specific colour, within a specified price range, below a certain number on the odometer and of a certain make and model. Then imagine asking the dealer to line them all up in front of you so you don't have to walk between them. This kind of filtering service is a normal part of looking for cars online.
4. Get more options
When buying from a car lot, your choices are limited to whatever is available on that lot and at any other lot you visit. When you look for a car online, you have a lot more vehicles to choose from and can find cars that closely suit your needs. You can then check those cars out. However, you still have to travel to inspect and purchase these cars, so keep the location in mind when browsing online.
Where can I buy a car online?
The benefits of going online, compared to visiting a dealership, can also vary depending on which websites you're using. Each one is different, and one might suit your needs more than another. The following are some of the sites you can visit:
- Carsales: Carsales.com.au lets you filter cars by make, model, body type, price and location.
- Gumtree: This is a popular place to look for second hand cars and find low prices.
- Drive: Drive.com.au also has handy filters for finding the perfect automobile.
- eBay: Australia's most popular shopping site also hosts a large range of second-hand cars.
Car finance online vs at dealerships
Getting a car loan can be quick and easy at a car dealership, but as with many dealer extras, there's a good chance you're not getting the value for money that you could. Once again, going online first and looking for a better deal can give you more bargaining power even if you do end up visiting a dealership.
The trick is getting pre-approved for a car loan, with due consideration to how suitable the particular loan is for you. With pre-approval in your pocket, you can simply tell the dealer that you have a better finance offer and then see if they're willing to match the terms.
Getting pre-approved for a loan involves knowing what kind of car you're interested in, which generally means going online and checking your options beforehand. Buying entirely offline can bring convenience and efficiency benefits, but will rarely match the value of going online beforehand, even if you do eventually end up buying from a car lot.
To find out more, get pre-approved or apply for any of the loans displayed below, simply click "Go to Site" to be taken to the lender's website.
Compare a range of car loans you can apply for online
For more information on any of these loans, simply click "More Info" to be taken to our review page. To apply for a loan, click "Go to site".
More guides on Finder
Finder Daily Deals: The 5 best online deals in Australia today
Today's best online deals in Australia, hand-picked by Finder's shopping experts.
Where to buy mobile phones online with Afterpay
Break up the cost of a brand new smartphone at these top online stores.
How much will a reverse mortgage cost you?
SPONSORED: Calculating the potential costs of a reverse mortgage can be tricky. We'll break it down step by step for you.
White card courses online in Australia
Everything you need to know about completing a white card course online to start a career in construction.
With interest rates so low, are savings accounts still worth it?
Interest rates on Australian savings accounts are at record lows, but there are a few key benefits to keeping cash in a savings account.
Best camping mattresses in Australia
These are the 6 best camping mattresses you can get in Australia right now.
Financial Fitness Challenge Week 3: How to get the most out of a credit card
How to cut debt and make your credit card work for you.
Where to buy a mattress online with Afterpay
Get a good night's sleep sooner when you buy your new mattress using Afterpay.
Where to buy discounted PlayStation 5 games online
Save up to 26% off PlayStation 5 games in the lead up to the console's launch.
Best weed killers in Australia
These are the eight best weed killers you can buy right now in Australia.
Car Loan OffersImportant Information*
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
A low minimum borrowing amount of $2,000 that you can use to purchase a new car or one up to two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.89% p.a.
Take advantage of a competitive rate, pre-approval and no early repayment fees when you finance a car under two years old.
You'll receive a fixed rate from 4.99% p.a.
A larger loan of $5,000 or more to help you buy a new or used car. 5-hour pre approval available and no ongoing fees.
You'll receive a fixed rate of 4.99% p.a.
Purchase a new or used car up to 2 years old and benefit from a fixed rate and no monthly fees. Pre-approval available within 5 business hours.
Ask an Expert