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How to buy a car online in Canada

Shop for a car online and have it delivered to your doorstep.

Since the pandemic, many people have shifted to buying cars online instead of shopping with a traditional dealer. Learn more about how to buy a car online in Canada and compare some of the best places to shop. Follow our 7 easy steps to buying a car online and having it delivered to your doorstep.

7 steps to buying a car online

1. Pick a platform for buying a car online

Online dealers

Online car dealers offer an inventory of certified used vehicles, so you can shop for a car online and have it delivered to your house. Most online dealers also offer warranty coverage and a free trial period or money back guarantee to make sure you like the car. Haggling on prices is usually not allowed and vehicles are typically newer than 2012.

Online automotive marketplaces

These are digital platforms that let 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 suitable vehicles. Some platforms offer “Buy from home” options so you can shop completely online.

Where can I shop for a car online in Canada?

Online sellerFinancingTrial periodServiced provinces
Clutch
  • Loan amount: From $7,500
  • Loan term: 12 - 96 months
  • Rates: From 3.90%
10 days/750 kmOntario, Alberta, BC, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI, Saskatchewan and NewfoundlandGo to site

Read review

Canada Drives
  • Loan amount: $7,500 – $99,999
  • Loan term: 12 - 84 months
  • Rates: 4.75% - 29.99%
7 days/500 kmOntario, British Columbia, Alberta and SaskatchewanRead review
Carooga
  • Loan amount: Starting at $7,500
  • Loan term: Not specified
  • Rates: Not specified
7 days/800 kmAvailable across CanadaRead review
CarDoor
  • Loan amount: $8,000 – $110,000
  • Loan term: 24-84 months
  • Rates: Starting at 5.99%
14 days/750 kmOntario only (specifically the Greater Toronto Area).Read review
AutoTrader
  • Loan amount: Varies
  • Loan term: Varies
  • Rates: Varies
Test drive for 48 hours (Toronto only)All provinces

Best used car sites in Canada

2. Browse the online inventory

  • Browse the inventory based on key parameters such as vehicle year, make, model, mileage, transmission and more.
  • Online dealers provide instant access to comprehensive info about the car by including the CARFAX report and inspection report.
  • These reports are typically not available with online car brokers like AutoTrader.

3. Reserve the car you’re interested in or proceed to purchase

  • Open the website and choose the ad for the car you want. Click to purchase and indicate if you’ll pay in full or if you want to finance the car (see below for an example from Canada Drive’s website).
  • Some dealers may require you to pay a deposit to hold the vehicle. Clutch, for example, requires a $100 deposit.

Buying a car online

4. Fill out the online application

  • Fill out an application with online dealers in less than 10 minutes. Your application may take longer if you need financing.
  • Automotive marketplaces such as AutoTrader may require a more extensive application.

5. Set up financing (if not paying in cash)

  • Fill out an application for car financing and determine your monthly payment.
  • With financing, you’ll pay a set interest rate on a regular monthly payment over a set number of years until your loan is paid off in full.

6. Buy the car and have it delivered to your doorstep

  • Buy the car and have it delivered in 1 to 3 business days with online car dealers. You may need to pay a delivery fee depending on where you live.
  • You can also choose to pick up the car from the facility.
  • Before delivery, most dealers will arrange insurance and registration for you.
  • Have your driver’s licence ready and your documents in place when buying from an automotive marketplace.

7. Test own your car for a specific time

  • Many online dealers offer trial periods between 7 and 14 days (with limits on mileage). Some also offer exchanges for 30-60 days.
  • Return the car if you’re unhappy with it. The online dealer will pick up the car.
  • Some conditions apply – for example, the car can’t be modified, in an accident or past a certain mileage.

Pros and cons of buying a car online in Canada

Pros

Take advantage of these benefits when buying a car online in Canada:

  • No aggressive sales tactics. Shop the online inventory from your own home and pick the car you want on your own terms.
  • Return and exchange period. Test drive your vehicle and return it within 7-14 days with online dealers. Some automotive marketplaces may not offer a return period.
  • Complimentary warranty. Get a 30- to 90-day warranty depending on the online dealer.
  • Thorough car inspection. Rest easy knowing the car you buy will come with a full inspection and CARFAX report in most cases.
  • Delivery to your door. Browse the online inventory for a car and have it delivered straight to your doorstep.
  • Hassle-free. Skip multiple test drives and long drawn-out interactions with sellers by buying your car directly from an online dealer.

What to watch out for when buying a car online

Watch for these drawbacks when buying a car online in Canada:

  • Newer used cars only. Most online dealers only offer vehicles that are 2012 or above. You may be able to get older cars with an online marketplace.
  • Non-negotiable prices. Most online inventories come with set prices so you can’t haggle down.
  • No test drives. You won’t be able to test drive multiple cars at one time like you can with an in-person dealer.

What documents do I need to provide to shop for a car online in Canada?

Government-issued IDDriver’s licence, passport or other form of ID.
Application formProvide personal information such as full name, home address, phone number and other contact details.
Payment informationPay by cash, credit card or bank draft in most cases if you’re paying for your car outright.
Bank account informationSupply direct deposit information to pay for your car or make your monthly repayments if you get in-house financing.

Additional information required if you get in-house financing:

Application formFill out a secondary application form for financing, which will typically require more thorough information.
Employment or income informationPay stubs, bank deposits, letters of employment, etc.
Credit checkConsent to a credit check so your online seller can assess your creditworthiness.
Bank account informationSupply direct deposit information to pay for your car or make your monthly repayments if you get in-house financing.

How to pay for your car

There are 3 main ways you can pay when buying a car online in Canada:

  • Pay in full. Use your own savings or pay with a credit card.
  • Finance with an online dealer. Fill out an application for financing with your dealer online, usually at the point of purchase.
  • Finance with your own lender. Apply for financing from a bank or private lender before you start shopping.

Example of the process if you pay in full with online dealer Canada Drives:

Buying car online example

Should I get a car online or at an in-person dealership?

The decision to buy online vs at an in-person dealership will depend on what type of buying experience you want. Compare online vs in-person dealerships to decide which option might be the best fit for you.

Online dealersIn-person dealerships
Examples
  • Clutch, Canada Drives, Carooga CarDoor
  • Local dealers near you
Prices
  • Cheaper than in-person dealerships due to lower operating costs
  • Non-negotiable prices
  • Potentially more expensive than online dealers and marketplaces
  • Negotiable prices
Inventory
  • Used cars only, typically newer than 2012
  • Usually hundreds of cars to choose from
  • All on one webpage
  • New and used cars
  • Hundreds of cars to pick from
  • Usually need to visit in person to see inventory with each dealer
Buying process
  • Convenient, hassle-free, completely online
  • Visit and test drive in-person
  • May be able to see inventory online in some cases
Trial period
  • Varies by dealer, usually 7-14 days
  • No trial period unless specified by dealer but test drives allowed
Financing
  • In-house financing, bank loans and private loans
  • In-house financing, bank loans and private loans
Extra features
  • Buying process is completely online
  • At-home delivery
  • In-person test drives
  • No online interactions required
  • At-home delivery in some cases.

Bottom line

  • Online sellers offer an easy and convenient way to purchase a vehicle without ever leaving your house.
  • You can pay with in-house financing, external financing or by paying your car off with your own savings or credit card.
  • Once you pay, your car will be delivered to your doorstep and you’ll often have a promo period to test drive the car before the sale is finalized.

Frequently asked questions

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