It used to be that when you started looking for a new or used car to buy, you began browsing local dealerships to get a feel for what you want. These days, however, the car buying options span the entire country. With so many cars advertised on the internet through dealerships, private sellers, and online auction sites, you have access to an enormous inventory of vehicles. This means you might find your perfect car halfway across the country. Although purchasing a car long distance might seem like quite a hassle, it’s actually not as hard as you might think and it can often serve as a very beneficial option for many people. Here we will break down what to look for when buying a car long-distance and provide some guidance to help you through the process.
Start with an Online Search
The process begins with an online search for your desired vehicle. There are dozens of great sites to search that offer both new and used vehicles for sale. Many of these sites allow you to narrow down your search criteria by make, model color, price, mileage, and more. Do be sure to check the site and review it’s reputation, but a few good options to search are AutoTrader, Carvana, Joydrive, CarsDirect, and Cars.com.
Start a Conversation with the Seller
If you happen to find your perfect car but it is located hundreds of miles away, not to worry. The dealers that use these sites can provide you with an abundance of information about the vehicle including pictures, videos, and carfax reports. This allows you to get an up close view of the car from every angle as well as gather information about the vehicle’s condition. This is your chance to ask any questions about the vehicle and begin the process of deciding whether or not it is right for you. Ideally, this contact should be made over the phone. Verbal communication allows you to get a better sense of the seller from their tone of voice and their eagerness to answer questions.
Invest in a Vehicle History Report and Inspection
While some sellers might include a vehicle history report, others may not but it is worth the extra $30-$50 to pull the report. This report will let you know if the car has been in any accidents or obtained major damage. If your vehicle passes the report, you can move on to the next step. At this point, you should ask if the seller will take a refundable deposit to hold the car, pending an inspection. Choose an inspection location in the same city as the vehicle and arrange to have an authorized person fax or email the inspection report.
Figure Out Delivery
There are some online sites that include shipping with the purchase of the vehicle. This is mainly if you are working with a dealership. If you are working with a private seller, you will need to decide how to pick up the vehicle. Generally for long distances, it is cheaper and more convenient to have the car shipped to you than flying to pick it up. At this point, you will choose a reputable auto shipping company and make arrangements to have the vehicle shipped to you. Don’t forget to have the seller include pictures of the vehicle’s condition prior to shipment. You also want to obtain proper insurance before shipping the car.
Payment and Paperwork
If you are purchasing a car from a dealer, they will have a few payment options available including financing. They should also be able to use an e-document service to sign paperwork. If you are working with a third-party seller, make sure you only pay using a protected payment service such as PayPal to ensure your payment is secure. You should also arrange to have the bill of sale and title mailed overnight.