Buying a car online vs dealership

Buying a car online vs dealership

Buying a car online vs dealership

There was a time when visiting a dealership was the only solution when you had to buy a car. Fast forward to 2021, with lockdowns and social distancing being the norm, several carmakers have been offering the option of purchasing a car online. Sure, dealerships still make sense if you’re looking for bargaining hard but shopping for car online helps you save time while maintaining all the social distancing norms. Here, in this post, we tell you all about buying a car online vs dealership

CostListed price along with official discounts (if any)Listed price along with huge scope for negotiations on the discounts
Turnaround timeJust a few minutesMore than an hour
Financing optionsRestricted choice with loan schemes from banksRegular car loan schemes from banks
How it worksTest drive your car at home and go through the rest of the process onlineVisit different dealerships and test drive cars. Compare prices between dealerships of same carmaker


When it comes to the cost of buying a car online vs a dealership, one of the major factors that come into play is the costs. At a dealership, you can bargain hard and push the dealer to increase the offers from their end. Online, you do get the discounts but only those which are officially being offered by the company. Bargaining on phone with the online salesperson won’t be as easy as doing it at a dealership.

Turnaround time

Buying a car online is obviously faster than buying it offline. In the best-case scenario, you would be able to finalise the price within a day and typically drive off with a new vehicle in a few days. Online, things are faster as there won’t be a need to negotiate time and again and even spend time to travel to the dealership. Things are a lot quicker when dealing with online sales guys.

Financing options

The major difference between buying car online and buying it at a dealership is that in the first case, you buy a car directly from the carmaker. When buying from a dealership, you buy a car from a third party (dealership). A dealership might have tied up with multiple banks for helping its customers with finance options but this choice is often limited when buying a car online.

Should I buy a car online or at a dealership?

The biggest difference between purchasing a car online as compared to buying it from a dealership is with the shopping experience.

The biggest difference between buying a car online versus going to the dealership is the shopping experience. You still need to test drive the car and negotiate your price.

When to buy online

While buying a car at a dealership could appeal more to you simply because it’s a traditional way to go shopping for cars, by purchasing a car online you will be able to-

Compare prices- When buying a car online, you’ll be quickly able to compare prices without needing to visit or even call multiple dealerships. This could even help you bargain harder in case you finally do visit a dealership.

Stronger Research- Thanks to various online tools, you can quickly figure out all the extra costs that are involved without depending on the salesperson at the dealership. This way, you can find out in advance about the road tax, insurance and other taxes you’re liable to pay.

Filter your search- When purchasing a car online, you can easily filter your search by comparing two or more variants of car easily. All this data is available at your fingertips when you decide to buy a car online.

When to buy car from dealership

In case you’re not comfortable shopping for something expensive like a car online, you can very well head to a dealership and buy a car. Buying a car from a dealership even has some advantages as compared to shopping online. Let’s have a look at these-

Seeing a car up close – While you can easily get a lot of data on any car on sale when buying a car online, seeing a car up close and being able to feel it is an altogether different experience.

Talking to an expert- Salesmen are trained to know everything about the car they have to sell. They might even know of the intricacies that aren’t available online. Hence, buying a car at a dealership lets you have a one on one with the sales executive.

Compare prices at multiple dealerships – While this will be a time consuming process, you can compare prices at two or more dealerships and play them against each other when negotiating.

Test drive all options – When purchasing a car online, it’s often not feasible to call for a test drive of every option on your mind. When buying from a dealer though, you can test drive as many cars you want and as many times you want.

Relationship Building – You might even end up building a good relationship with the salesperson, which is something that might be of help in case you buy more cars in near future.

Online financing vs dealership financing

Getting a car loan at a dealership is a lot easier than buying online as it involves less research and often, a lot of paperwork for application is taken care of by the salesman. Most dealers have already tied up with multiple banks for offering car loan schemes and based on this association, these banks might even offer slightly better schemes than what they typically do to people who approach them directly. A trick here is that you walk into a showroom with a pre-approved car loan and bargain with the salesman on the basis of the offer you already have in your hand.

However, before you go ahead and apply for a pre-approved car loan, it’s important to finalise the car you want to purchase and even figure out the EMI you’ll be comfortable paying every month. You might also want to look at various banks and compare their interest rates before you finally apply to one of them for a pre-approved car loan.

Watch out for extra costs when buying car at dealership

Purchase of a car doesn’t just involve you having to pay the ex-showroom price. There’s actually a significant amount more that is added to the sticker price While things like insurance, RTO tax, and other mandatory taxes can’t be avoided, there is a lot more that a dealer might add simply to make an extra buck. These are generally things like accessories packs you might not need or a paint protection film that you might not want to buy. In such a case, if you’re not careful, you’ll end up spending an inflated amount to bring the car of your choice to home. Hence, always be careful when buying a car at dealerships. Pay extra attention to all the extra costs over the ex-showroom price of the vehicle.


There are many advantages of buying car online or even buying car at dealership. The best way to choose between the two is to weigh in all your priorities and the options and then decide by figuring out which of the two methods would be more convenient to you.

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