Car buying comes with lots of challenges. For one thing, there are options upon options upon options of different cars out there– where’s a buyer to even start? There’s also deciding between features, upholstery, entertainment and navigation systems, high-tech gadgets and devices– you’re, quite literally, in the driver’s seat of this decision making. But these decisions can seem a hard task to accomplish should the buyer not know too much– or anything at all– about the automotive world.
The other thing about car buying is that this research phase, however difficult it may seem, cannot be avoided. Making such a substantial financial investment requires careful thought, compromise and review when weighing out what features to prioritize. Set a budget and stay within a precise price point– or spend the extra money and prioritize car safety over budget? Or prioritize fuel efficiency over car safety? Or throw it all away to find the best looking red sports car you can find?
Whatever resides on your totem pole of priorities, those of us who don’t have an extensive background of automotive expertise require outside assistance to guide us through the process of making a final vehicle pick. We can choose between referring to local car dealerships to review your prospective options, trusting the advice of a car dealer, or you can refer to an online automotive database that presents you with relevant information on whatever make or model of a car you’re looking at.
Now, there are both benefits and drawbacks of referring to either one of the two aforementioned options. A pretty extensive list, actually.
In-person car dealerships or showrooms are beneficial in the sense that you are physically present for a review of your potential options. This way, you can gauge most thoroughly the true state of the car you are buying–this is especially essential when on the hunt for a used car. At a dealership, you also have on-call assistance readily available should you have any questions or concerns. For those that have influential haggling skills, dealerships prove beneficial due to the possibility of price negotiation. So, everything sounds good right? In-person dealerships are the way to go? Well… not exactly.
In-person car dealerships means dealing with car dealers. Car dealers are sales people. They are less interested in you finding a vehicle that fits all your needs and more interested in looking at you and seeing a fat paycheck. Ultimately, a dealer’s primary goals revolve around capital gain. In fact, dealers will sometimes even conceal defects and other inadequacies of a car in order to place it at a higher selling value. This is easy for them to get away with, too, as oftentimes these defects aren’t totally visible unless the buyer carefully observes the underside of the hood of a car. Should a buyer fall into this dealer trap, he leaves oblivious to his near future of frequent and pricey car repairs.
So… that means we go with online autobases instead? Well, not exactly.
Sure, there are definite perks to using an online automotive database. It comes in especially handy when there are no local vehicles a buyer is interested in, as online databases grant an online buyer an immense bank of vehicles to choose from rather than having to pick between cars that don’t completely meet their needs located closer to them. You also have easier access to auto comparisons since all relevant information on a car is presented to you right before your eyes on a screen, so side-by-side comparisons become possible with the simple click of a button. Online car dealerships also ensure a buyer will not succumb to the pressure of sales tactics that often coerce customers into making a purchase that breaks the bank for a vehicle that does not meet their specific needs. Online dealerships also work around the clock; doors never close online, so a review of your proponents can be done anytime of day, anytime of week, month, or year, 24/7.
On the other hand, however, online autobases also come with downsides. The most obvious issue being the simple fact that research is being done online, an in-person review of any prospective vehicle cannot happen. Many buyers prefer to have hands-on time with a vehicle before making a finalized decision, and although pictures can give a buyer a general idea of the car’s aesthetics, they are not always fully sufficient. No test drive can be made, the buyer cannot climb into the driver’s seat of the car, smell the seat upholstery or give the tires a kick before making a final decision. This physical barrier with online car sales also reads true with price negotiations, as no haggling can be done with an in-person dealer. This may come as a disadvantage to buyers that have no other choice but only to make a purchase decision contingent on a more budgeted price point.
So it looks like neither of our two options present an overwhelming outweigh of pros against cons. Is our best option to venture out and commit to gathering all information on our own? Luckily, there exists a marriage of your available options that eliminates the aforementioned downsides while optimizing the perks of both resource outlets. Cars.com is a reliable, thorough and accurate resource to refer to throughout your search for your next vehicle that comes with no pressure to make a purchase you were coerced into, gives you accurate information on the pros and cons of your potential options, allows users the option to decide between detailed side-by-side comparisons, provides multiple outlets for car buying advice depending on your individual needs, and can refer you to local dealerships that sell your dream car. You can checkout a cars running costs at a website like Reg Car Check.
James Hendrickson is an internet entrepreneur, blogging junky, hunter and personal finance geek. When he’s not lurking in coffee shops in Portland, Oregon, you’ll find him in the Pacific Northwest’s great outdoors. James has a masters degree in Sociology from the University of Maryland at College Park and a Bachelors degree on Sociology from Earlham College. He loves individual stocks, bonds and precious metals.