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How to buy a car online
Learn how and where you can buy a car online in Canada to save time and energy.
There are several ways you can buy a car online from the comfort of your own living room. Find out where to shop for a car online in Canada, and learn more about what steps you may need to take to secure a vehicle with different types of sellers – including private sellers, car brokers, online car buying services and dealers.
Where can I buy a car online?
There are several different sellers that will let you shop for or buy a car online in Canada.
1. Online car brokers
An online car broker is a specialized service that lets you compare the prices of multiple cars from different dealerships, all in one place. All you need to do is input the features you want in a car and you’ll be matched with a list of vehicles from multiple dealerships.
Once you pick a car, you’ll usually need to go into the dealership to test drive and pay for your vehicle. That said, you may be able to make special arrangements to buy a car online with some dealers, though you may need to pay for delivery.
→ Where can I buy a car online with a car broker?
Nationwide examples of car brokers in Canada include Auto Trader, Car Cost Canada, Car Pages and Canadian Black Book.
2. Online car buying services
There are several different types of online car buying services that you can use to buy a car online in Canada. The 2 most common are car concierges and “build and buy” programs.
- Car concierge services. These services provide an agent that will shop and negotiate for a car on your behalf. You just need to specify what type of vehicle you want and your car concierge will handle the sale from start to finish.
- “Build and buy” services. You may be able to get special pricing from a dealership or car manufacturer when you build the car you want from scratch on their website. You then buy the car online and it’s delivered to your doorstep.
→ Where can I buy a car online with an online car buying service?
You may be able to buy a car entirely online in Canada with car buying services such as Clutch, Canada Drives or CarDoor. Tesla is a good example of a “Build and Buy” service since you can design a car and pay for your purchase on the Tesla website.
3. Local car dealers
You won’t necessarily be able to buy a car online with a dealer, but you can shop online before you head to a dealer’s location. Many dealerships in your area will keep an inventory of available cars along with pricing information on their websites.
This means you can find the exact car you want at a price tag you can afford without having to leave home. Just make sure you call in advance to confirm that the car is still available before you head to the dealership to complete your purchase.
→ Where can I buy a car online with a car dealer?
You can find a list of car dealerships in your local area using Google.
4. Private sellers
It’s easy and convenient to shop online for cars with private sellers, but you should be prepared to meet in person to test drive and pay for the car. The benefit of shopping with private sellers is that you can often get a cheaper car and you can compare your options online.
Just make sure that you see the car in person before you buy and avoid paying for your vehicle online so that you don’t run into scams.
→ Where can I buy a car online with a private seller?
You can visit sites such as Kijiji, Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace to buy a car online with a private seller.
Steps for how to buy a car online
Follow these 7 steps to buy a car online that best fits your needs.
1. Figure out your budget.
Think about how much you can spend on a car and shop with that price tag in mind. Remember to factor in the extra costs of car ownership such as insurance, gas and emergency repairs to get a true idea of how much you should pay.
Calculate how much car you can afford
2. Settle on where to buy your car.
Decide if you want to shop online with a car buying service, car broker, dealer or private seller. Compare options from all of these sites to find the best car for your budget.
Explore your options for where to buy a car
3. Decide how to pay for your car.
You may be able to pay for your car online with savings or with financing. It may also be possible to qualify for financing directly with your dealer.
Find a car loan that meets your needs
4. Compare your options and negotiate prices.
Shop around before you buy a car online in Canada to make sure you get the best deal. Don’t be afraid to ask for a lower price with most sellers as you could lock in big savings if they’re eager to make a sale.
Tips for negotiating the price of your vehicle
5. Schedule test drives and inspections.
Book a test drive and an inspection if you can meet with your seller in person. If you’re buying a vehicle completely online, ask for a copy of an inspection and make sure you’re working with a reputable company.
6. Pay for your vehicle and organize the paperwork.
Once you’ve decided on a vehicle, you’ll need to pay for it and sign legal documents. Make sure you get a copy of the signed car title and registration so that you can get the car registered and insured under your name.
7. Figure out delivery or pick up your vehicle.
After paying, you’ll need to figure out how you’re going to get your vehicle. If you’ve ordered it completely online, you’ll usually need to arrange for delivery. If you purchased a car from a dealership or private seller, you can usually just drive away once you pay.
Different ways to pay when buying a car online
There are several ways you can pay when you buy a car online in Canada.
- Pay with your own savings. Use money from your bank account or borrow from family or friends to avoid taking out a loan.
- Take out an auto loan. Apply for a used car loan from a private lender and secure your repayments with the vehicle you buy.
- Apply for dealership financing. Get financing directly from the dealership when buying a car to save yourself time and energy (but expect to pay higher rates).
- Lease your vehicle. Apply for a lease if you buy from a dealer and don’t want to own your car outright at the end of your contract.
Compare car loans
What should I look for when I buy a car online in Canada?
You can consult this checklist for buying a car online to make sure you end up with a quality vehicle:
- Low mileage. Look for low mileage (anything below 120,000kms) to avoid dealing with wear and tear repairs after you buy a car online.
- Listed at market price or lower. Check sites like Kelley Blue Book and Canadian Black Book to make sure you don’t pay more than market price for your vehicle.
- Reputable seller. Read reviews and do your research to make sure that you’re working with a reputable seller – especially if you plan to pay online.
- Vehicle inspection. Get a copy of the inspection report for the car from your seller if you’re unable to test drive or inspect the vehicle in person.
- Has maintenance records. Ask for maintenance records so that you can assess whether the car was well taken care of or neglected.
- Passes a VIN check. Use a site like CarMax to check the vehicle identification number for the car you want to buy to make sure the sale is legitimate.
- Eligible for financing. Make sure the car you want to buy is eligible for financing if you plan to borrow money to buy a car online in Canada.
Benefits of buying a car online
You may be able to take advantage of these benefits if you buy a car online in Canada:
- Easier to compare options. You can easily compare hundreds of vehicles at one time by comparing your options online with different types of sellers.
- Less work. You’ll usually need to do less work to buy a car online than you would if you looked for a car in-person (especially with a car buying service or car broker).
- More convenient. You can compare vehicles and go through the steps for how to buy a car online all from the comfort of your own home.
What to watch out for when buying a car online
Keep an eye out for the following drawbacks if you buy a car online in Canada:
- Higher risk. You’ll need to watch out for scammers or defective vehicles – especially if you can’t test drive your car and are expected to pay online.
- More expensive. You could end up paying more if you go with an agency or service that handles all the steps for how to buy a car online from start to finish.
- Less control. You may end up having less control over what type and/or condition of car you get if you shop online.
You can save time and energy if you follow our steps for how to buy a car online in Canada. All you need to do is figure out how much you can pay and decide what type of seller you want to source your vehicle from. You’ll also need to think about how you plan to finance your new purchase before you buy a car online. You can read our comprehensive guide to car loans to learn more.
Frequently asked questions
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