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5 Things You Should Know Before Buying Used Cars Online

By Odet Garcia Updated: 07/26/2022 Posted: 12/26/2018

Anyone who is on a budget has probably thought about buying used cars online. While this can be a great option, you do need to be careful about what you buy and where you buy it.

Buying Used Cars Online

It may sound like a confusing process, but it’s actually quite easy if you have your research done. We give you here 5 tips that will help you in your buying task.

Tip #1: Check Used Car Dealerships

Many of the dealerships today have websites on which you can check the vehicles they have in stock. Almost every such enterprise will even allow and certify you to buy online, and they can ship the vehicle to you.

While it’s possible to find decent vehicles this way, one of the problems that you might encounter is the lack of variety. It may be difficult to find the vehicle you want since many dealerships have a very limited inventory.

There is always some risk involved in buying used cars online through a used car dealership, as it can be difficult to tell the good from the bad. Always compare prices for the type of vehicle you are buying to see whether you are getting a good deal. Also, make sure you check the vehicle’s history as much as possible before committing to any purchase.


One of the reasons that some people choose to buy through dealerships is so they don’t have to pay the full price for the vehicle at once. They can pay a deposit, and pay the rest in installments, with interest, as part of a finance plan, similar to those available when buying a new vehicle.

While this could be a good option for some people, it generally means you will be paying more for the car than the price on the tag. It also means you are stuck in a contract, and that’s not an ideal situation for some. This is especially difficult if you are in another country and trying to buy used cars online from the US.

Further Reading

  1. How to Choose the Right Used Hyundai for Sale 
  2. Everything You Need to Know about Buying Used Cars 
  3. White Paper: Market Report for New and Used Cars in the US 
  4. Tips For Those Who Want to Buy Used Cars Online 

Tip #2: Check Private Sellers

Another option is to look for private sellers. You can find owners who are looking to sell their vehicles through sites such as Craigslist and eBay or Ideal Carsonline. While this is generally easy to do, there is always the potential for problems. You don’t know the seller, and you don’t know anything about the vehicle.

Even though you can check out the vehicle’s history, you don’t necessarily know what the owner may have done to the car recently. Also, you will find that most private owners are not going to go through the hassle of helping you ship the vehicle to your state or country.

Some sellers might not even like the idea of selling to someone they can’t meet in person. They can be just as suspicious of you as you are of them. This means it can be difficult to get a vehicle, even if you find something that you think is perfect for you.

Tip #3: Use a Car Shopping Site

Because many people want to buy used cars online or rental used cars, a number of sites have cropped up in recent years. Sites such as Auto Trader can help put people in contact with sellers all around the country. This makes it easier to find exactly what you need, but you still have to go through the same process as when buying through other dealers or private sellers.

The frustration and potential dangers are still present. Once again, you have to figure out the shipping on your own.

Tip #4: Consider a Car Auction

If you want to buy used cars online, an auction is a good option for a couple of reasons. First, you will be able to find vehicles that are far more cost-friendly than those you will find at other online venues. Second, auctions tend to have quite a bit more variety than regular dealerships or private sellers in your area.

You should be aware, though, that in most cases you will be buying the vehicle as is. This means you need to do as much research as possible on the vehicle to make sure you know exactly what you are buying, and avoid nasty surprises.

Of course, going through an auction can be tricky for those who are new to it, and an online auction might not be right for everyone. Thankfully, there are third-party companies that can take the hassle out of auctions for you. They can help you with bidding, as well as help you ship and export your vehicle once you buy it.

One of the other things to keep in mind when you buy used cars online through an auction is that many of the vehicles have salvage titles. This doesn’t mean they are junked vehicles. It means that either they have some prior damage that the insurance companies considered wouldn’t be worth repairing, or they were stolen or repossessed.

In many cases, you will have to put some time and money into repairs for the vehicle to become roadworthy. However, the savings on the cost of the vehicle often make this your best choice.

Tip #5: Know What You Are Buying

This final tip isn’t another way to buy used cars online. Rather, it’s about making sure you know exactly what you are buying so you are happy with the final purchase. Whether you are buying from a dealer or through a car auction, the more research you do the better off you will be.

As you can see, it is possible to buy used cars online with relative ease today. As long as you have an idea of what type of vehicle you want, what you can spend on buying and potentially repairing the vehicle, and you are willing to do the research, you may get just what you need.

Explore our Vehicle Auctions, as well as finding more information about How These Auctions Work.