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Consumer
Online car buying is growing
NEW YORK (9/20/19)--Will the car-buying process shift to the Internet in the next 10 years? That’s the view of some analysts speaking with CNNMoney.com, which reported an increase in online car buying (CNNMoney.com Sept. 10). Some large dealerships--Autonation, the country’s biggest chain, and Sonic Automotive--are experimenting with upfront Internet pricing that serves as the initial point of contact for buyers. Most consumers already use the Internet to window shop and gather information. But now more are completing the transaction online--hoping to avoid those dreaded face-to-face sit downs with a salesperson. For consumers, the struggle between dealers and shoppers is shifting in favor of the buyer while dealerships, already faced with slim margins, look for a faster sales turnaround. The practiced online shopper can pit dealers against one another from home. The appeal of online shopping is simple for consumers: There’s less hassle. It’s fast and convenient. Online car buying has become more streamlined and competitive, according to Edmunds.com. It has shopped online exclusively for its fleet-testing vehicles during the past eight years. Michelle Dosher, managing editor of Home & Family Finance Resource Center and MoneyMix at the Credit Union National Association, Madison, Wis., offers this advice:
* Line up your financing so you can be a cash-paying customer. Shop around for rates, starting first at your credit union. * Know exactly what you want to buy--the make, model, options, even the color. * Avoid going to the dealership. Call, send an e-mail, or employ a car-buying website to get bids from competing dealerships. Ask them to send you a copy of the window sticker and the invoice price, which is what you are really after. You’ll be surprised how many will do so when they know they are bidding against another provider. * Don’t fill out a credit application from the dealership before you have a firm price. Dealers use it to see whether you’re a qualified buyer. * Resist the temptation to go to the dealership before getting a firm quote. Remind dealers that other providers are meeting your request for a firm bid.
If you buy from an individual or through an unknown provider, Dosher also reminds online shoppers to beware of potential fraud. Visit a loan officer at your credit union to discuss auto financing details. And, to run the numbers, use the “Calculator: What Will My Car Payment Be?” in Home & Family Finance Resource Center.
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