Is it safe to buy a car online?

Making purchases physically used to be the norm for the longest times, until technology revolutionized everything and e-commerce was just as popular. The different categories of products and services which can be covered by e-commerce vary, and seem to be increasingly growing to include medical, dental, optical, skincare, house purchasing and many more. This does not mean that there are no instances of purchases that do not meet the expectation or requirements of the buyer. However, there are measures in place to ensure that customers are given the best services possible, such as returns, exchange and/or refund. The feedback channels are also instantaneous, which ensures that individuals can seek swift redress for errors in a transaction and any other concerns.

Purchasing a car, however, is a whole different kettle of fish. The norm used to be visiting a dealership to pick out your preferred car, test driving to be sure the car is a good fit, provide whatever financing option already handy for the purpose, signing documents and voila, a new car. Sales of cars online seem to be catching up, though, with the convenience for diverse car dealer options making the process easier on the online shopper.

Is it safe to shop for a car online?


There are different online car dealerships and stores, some are even categorized as car auction sites. It is easy for different unverified companies to surface online, which can be fake sites for unscrupulous elements. The internet offers anonymity, which means that it might be difficult to ascertain the sources or veracity of some websites. This is why it is advisable to read and give customer reviews left on independent websites like, where customers who have dealt directly with companies can offer useful information from their experiences.

Here are some commonsensical ideas to ensure safety and protect yourself from bogus deals if you decide to shop for a car online:

  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is not true. Do not be lured in by ridiculously low and unrealistic prices. Although it is possible to have different prices per website or company, the range would still be within the same class. If buying from a private party that seems to be in a hurry to make the sale (he needs the money fast for medical/travel/tuition etc.), you should take several steps back.
  • Verify everything verifiable. In communicating with the dealership or company, do not rely on e-mail and other non-verbal communications. Rather, get the phone number to place a call through (and play Sherlock by trying to verify the phone number), ask to see a copy of the registration and Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), and check some websites to find the vehicle history report. There are also independent vehicle inspection companies that you can pay to inspect the vehicle on your behalf if you cannot do it physically, just to ensure that the car does not have any undisclosed faults.
  • Guard your payment information jealousy. Try not to send a personal cheque or wire money when you can, paying through fintech that can protect your details. Alternatively, confirm the legitimacy of the company with state regulators before you decide to make any commitment.
  • Ensure that there is no delay between payment and collection of title documents. Until that is done, the deal is not closed.

Leveraging on technology to make purchases is one of the many ways life has become easier for the 21st-century person. However, whether shopping online or offline, one has to be security conscious to guard against losing money to fake deals and wrong hands.