How to Safely Buy a Car Remotely from a Dealer

Buying a car remotely from a dealer can be a convenient and efficient way to find the perfect vehicle, especially if you’re unable to visit the dealership in person. However, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure that you don’t get scammed or end up with a lemon. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the essential steps to safely buy a car remotely from a dealer without getting ripped off. From identifying suspiciously cheap deals to verifying the dealer’s legitimacy, conducting inspections, and finalizing the purchase, we’ve got you covered.


1. Be Cautious of Suspiciously Cheap Deals

When searching for a car remotely, it’s essential to be wary of deals that seem too good to be true. If you come across a vehicle that is significantly underpriced compared to similar models, it’s important to exercise caution. Legitimate sellers, whether dealers or private parties, typically price their vehicles competitively based on market value. If a car’s price is suspiciously low, it could indicate hidden issues, like severe accident damage or salvage titles.

2. Scrutinize the Dealer’s Website and Inventory

Before proceeding with a remote car purchase, it’s crucial to thoroughly examine the dealer’s website and inventory. A dealer’s website can provide valuable insights into their credibility and the quality of their vehicles. Look for signs of professionalism and attention to detail, such as well-organized inventory listings, comprehensive vehicle descriptions, and high-quality photos. If a dealer’s website appears generic or lacks essential information, it may be a red flag.

3. Request Visuals and Inspections

Once you’ve identified a potential vehicle, it’s essential to request visuals and conduct inspections to ensure its condition meets your expectations. Ask the dealer for detailed photos and a walkaround video that highlight any cosmetic imperfections, such as dings, scratches, or interior wear and tear. Reputable sellers will be willing to provide these details to demonstrate transparency and avoid surprises upon delivery.

Depending on the car’s age, mileage, and warranty coverage, you may consider arranging an independent inspection. While newer cars with low mileage and manufacturer-certified warranties may not require an inspection, it’s generally recommended for older vehicles or specialty cars like Porsches or Ferraris. If a dealer resists or discourages an inspection, it’s a potential warning sign.

Top Tips for Buying a Car Remotely4. Understand the Terms and Obtain a Written Quote

Before sending any money, it’s crucial to have a clear understanding of the terms and obtain a written quote from the dealer. The quote should itemize the out-the-door price, including the agreed-upon sale price, taxes, fees, and any additional charges. Refrain from buying a car remotely from a dealer who refuses to provide a written quote.

Be cautious of inflated charges, such as “reconditioning” or “dealer prep” fees. If you encounter these, it’s important to question and negotiate them. Some dealers may request a small credit card deposit to hold the car while paperwork is being processed. However, be wary of any dealer demanding a large upfront payment before a legal sales agreement is established.

5. Review and Sign the Sales Contract

In most cases, dealers will not conduct digital document transactions, so expect to receive a sales contract and a finance agreement through traditional mail. Carefully review these documents to ensure they accurately reflect the agreed-upon terms. Pay close attention to the final sale price, financing terms (if applicable), and any warranties or additional services included.

If necessary, consult a legal professional to ensure you fully understand the contract’s terms and conditions. Once you’re satisfied with the terms, sign the documents and proceed with the next steps.

6. Secure Payment and Delivery Options

After signing the sales contract and finance agreement, it’s time to arrange for payment and vehicle delivery. Dealers may offer various payment methods, including wire transfer or financing through their approved lenders. Ensure that the payment method is secure and aligns with your preferences and financial situation.

If you opt for wire transfer, be cautious of dealers demanding full payment before the paperwork is complete. Reputable dealers often offer the option to have a notary service bring the documents to you for verification. Once the payment is made and paperwork finalized, you can decide whether to travel to the dealership for in-person pickup or have the vehicle shipped using a reputable vehicle transport company.

7. Consider Independent Reviews and Research

While conducting your remote car purchase, it’s worth considering independent reviews and conducting additional research on the dealer. Online platforms and review sites can provide insights into other buyers’ experiences, but be cautious as not all reviews may be accurate or genuine. Take note of any recurring negative feedback or suspicious patterns.

In addition to online reviews, conduct your own research on the dealer’s reputation, years in business, and any potential legal issues. This information can help you make an informed decision and minimize the risk of getting scammed.

Buying a Car: How to cruise through the purchasing process.8. Consult Local Experts for Specialty Cars

If you’re purchasing a specialty car, such as a Porsche or Ferrari, it’s advisable to consult local experts familiar with the specific model. Local mechanics or specialty car shops can provide valuable insights into common issues, potential maintenance costs, and the overall condition of the vehicle you’re interested in. Their expertise can help you make an informed decision and negotiate a fair price.

9. Secure Proper Insurance Coverage

Before taking possession of the vehicle, ensure that you have adequate insurance coverage. Contact your insurance provider to discuss the necessary steps for insuring a remotely purchased car. Provide them with all the relevant information, including the vehicle’s details and the purchase agreement. This will ensure that you’re adequately protected in the event of any unforeseen circumstances.

10. Perform a Thorough Inspection Upon Delivery

When the vehicle arrives, it’s crucial to perform a thorough inspection before accepting delivery. Carefully examine the car for any discrepancies or damages that were not disclosed during the purchasing process. If you notice any issues, document them with photos or videos and contact the dealer immediately to address the situation.

11. Follow Up on Warranty and Maintenance

If the vehicle comes with a warranty, familiarize yourself with its coverage and any maintenance requirements. Review the warranty documentation and consult the dealer or manufacturer for clarification on what is covered and any specific maintenance procedures. Adhering to the recommended maintenance schedule will help keep your car in optimal condition and protect your warranty coverage.

12. Leave Your Own Review and Share Your Experience

After completing the remote car purchase, consider leaving a review of your experience with the dealer. Share your insights, both positive and negative, to help future buyers make informed decisions. Be honest and detailed in your review, highlighting any exceptional service or areas for improvement. Your feedback can contribute to a more transparent and trustworthy car buying experience for others.

In conclusion, buying a car remotely from a dealer requires careful consideration and thorough research. By following these steps and exercising caution throughout the process, you can minimize the risk of getting ripped off and confidently enjoy your new vehicle. Remember to prioritize transparency, conduct inspections, review and understand all documentation, and consult experts when necessary. Happy car shopping!