/Buying a Car Online

Buying a Car Online

used car at Buying a Car Online

It’s hard to believe that a mere twenty years ago, only the brave would order things online out of fear of scams and stolen identities. Now, online business is booming, and people buy everything from weekly groceries to vehicles with the click of a button.

There are numerous pros and cons to buying a car online, as well as tips and tricks to get the most out of your purchase. Here’s what you need to know before making the purchase.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Buying a car online can either be a breeze or a nightmare, depending on how you approach the situation and your level of caution. It is important to know all sides of the process before making the transaction.

The Pros

Purchasing a vehicle online allows you to choose from a global market. If you’re seeking a classic car or something rare in your area, you’ll be able to locate what you’re looking for and start the sales process. Before the internet became a staple, this wasn’t possible. Online vehicle shopping also gives you a better idea of the overall market. It provides you with the option to buy a vehicle that may be in better shape than vehicles sold in your area at the same price. For example, if you live in Canada where the roads are covered in salt all winter, ordering a car from the US is common practice.

The Cons

The biggest con with purchasing a vehicle online is that you can’t see it first. You may get to look at photos of the car, but you can’t closely inspect to detect signs of water damage, rust, or other flaws. How will you know if the car is as shown or if it has been Photoshopped to make the sale?

To expand upon that idea, online car shopping opens the doors to potential scammers. You need to be vigilant in checking references and confirming the validity of the sale before sending away your hard earned money.

Transporting a car can also be challenging. There are many ways to offset the car transport cost, but be sure to budget accordingly before buying.

How to Protect Yourself

Bill of Sale

When purchasing a car online, the main document that will help you protect your assets is the Bill of Sale. The Bill of Sale outlines the details of the transaction and legitimizes the claim. This form will outline the:

  • agreed upon price;
  • VIN;
  • odometer reading;
  • date of sale;
  • address and information of both the buyer and seller; and
  • a detailed description of the vehicle.

The document should be signed by both parties. Some areas require that a Bill of Sale be completed and the document protects both the seller and the buyer.


Another way to protect yourself when buying a car online is to practice common sense and listen to your instincts. If the price seems unbelievably low, it is probably a scam. That price won’t seem so low when you’ve lost that amount of money and gotten nothing but regret in return. If the seller doesn’t seem to know much about the vehicle, asks for strange transaction methods, or has trouble communicating, get out fast.


If you can’t see the car in person, it is important to have an inspection completed by a licensed official. An inspector will be able to tell you if there is any damage that you or the seller hadn’t noticed and give the car a rating and value to better direct your price negotiations. Many online sellers will have an inspection and appraisal done in advance and will be able to provide the report. If they haven’t, feel free to request it or have it done at your expense.

When buying a car online, remember to be thorough in your investigations and cautious when dealing with sellers. If you do so, the process should yield great results. If your in San Diego, maybe you want to find used car dealers in San Diego and be sure of the car’s quality!

(CEO / Editor / Journalist) – Bruno is the owner and CEO of Motorward.com; he’s responsible for the entire team, editorial guidelines and publishing. Bruno has many years of experience in the auto industry, both managing automotive websites and contributing to the press.