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How to Cautiously and Wisely Buy a Car Online

Jul 23, 2008
Buying a car, whether new or used, online options can be a great way to save money, time, and find a fantastic deal. Unfortunately, it can also be an easy way to fall prey to potential scams and problems that an in-person evaluation might otherwise catch.

If you're planning to purchase a car online, keep reading for 4 great consumer protection tips that will help you make your purchase both hassle free and save you money.

1. If Buying New, Understand All the Costs

While customizing a brand new car online can be fun and seem exciting, you'll often pay a lot more than the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) when ordering a new car directly from the manufacturer.

For example, let's say you go into a dealership and buy a new model car right off the sales floor without any factory customization or specifications. You can often negotiate a price that's lower than the MSRP, and you'll save big on factory delivery fees. Meanwhile, ordering a customized car online and then having it shipped to the dealership could cost you thousands of extra dollars.

All-in-all, the additional expenses of online customization may be worth it to you, but you should at least be aware this is what you are facing.

2. Understand Border Restrictions

If you're buying a used car online and it's going to be crossing over a country border, understand before making a transaction that you're going to have to pay and deal with customs. You can hire independent customs brokers that will handle all your paperwork and fees, but their services come at a premium.

Try a website like MyBorderPro.com that will calculate all the estimated duty, tax and shipping costs associated with moving a car from one country to yours.

3. Factor In Shipping Costs

Most online car purchases need to be shipped or freighted to their destination. If you live in Oregon, for example, think about the associated shipping costs before you buy that car in Virginia. A good deal may not be so sweet once you add on $500 in freight costs.

One viable option to counter some of the shipping costs (if you can afford the time) is to make the trip yourself. Either purchase a one-way flight to the automobile's location or drive there with a trusted family member or friend and both of you can drive each vehicle back home.

4. Understand Your Auction Options

Before you buy a car through an online auction, make sure you understand all the terms associated with making that bid. For example, eBay offers up to $50,000 in protection against certain types of fraud, but only in specific situations.

In those cases, you are protected if

* the car is never delivered
* the car is stolen
* there is a lien against the car
* the VIN or actual vehicle is not the same as described
* the seller did not provide a title or registration
* the car was not disclosed as being salvaged or flood damaged and was discovered to be a salvaged vehicle
* there is an odometer discrepancy of more than 5,000 miles, or
* the vehicle needs repairs that were not disclosed and total more than $1000.
About the Author
For helpful information on car and truck recommendations, please visit http://www.cartrucktips.com, a popular site providing great insights concerning automotive choices and needs, such as the best new car prices , LED automotive lights , the Honda fuel cell car , and many more!
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