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Online Car Shopping: Tips for Choosing a Car Without Test Driving It

In modern times, car dealerships are still popular but not necessary. Now, you can buy a used car online, saving time and limiting social interaction. But one of the main perks to buying in-person is that you get to test drive the vehicle. Many buyers decide against buying a car online because they can’t test drive it, but unless you’re just really picky about how a car rides, test drives aren’t necessary for picking the right vehicle. There are many other ways you can decide whether a car is right for you.

Research, Research, Research!

The first thing you can do is research the model you’re interested in. First, research the model as a whole. For example, if you’re looking for a used Jeep Wrangler, look up customer reviews of used Jeep Wrangler models. This is helpful because it helps you see the general pros and cons of that model across its years.

Here is an example of how that works when shopping for something like a Wrangler. The pro is that the Wrangler is known for its durability and off-roading capabilities, but the con is that its fuel economy is less than desirable. It’s up to you whether your model’s cons are dealbreakers or not.

More specifically, you should research the model’s specific years to see what customers and reviewers have to say about that particular model. The info shouldn’t only be specific to customer feedback, either. You also need to see if there are any major recalls for that model year and find out what’s been done to fix those recalled issues.

You’ll also want to check the CARFAX report. Anything that has ever happened that that specific car is right there in the report. This is one of the best ways to know what you’re getting without stepping foot on a car lot. CARFAX reports include important information, such as how many owners the car has had, whether it’s been in any wrecks or not, and any damage it’s ever had. CARFAX does this by gathering information from auto shops, insurance companies, and other important sources. You’ll even learn if the previous owner or owners used it for commercial purposes or for personal use only. Overall, research alone can really help the online car buying process in ways that even a test drive can’t.

The wheels of multiple white cars are shown from a low angle.

Photos, Mileage, Safety, and Trim Levels

Another smart move when buying cars online is to check out photos. The more photos you see on the listing, the better chance that your chosen model is in good condition. You’ll want to see detailed photos of both the car’s interior and its exterior. This will help you determine whether the vehicle’s description matches its true condition. Further, you should check the vehicle’s mileage. Used models obviously have miles on them, but you don’t want to overpay for a model that has over 150,000 miles on it. Make sure the price and the mileage match up appropriately.

When buying a car online without test driving it, another smart move is to focus on safety. This includes checking the car’s safety rating and checking to see what driver assist features it offers. You don’t have to test drive a vehicle just to know what safety features it has. Each trim level comes with its own unique features. Just because you’re getting a Honda Civic doesn’t mean that all Honda Civics offer the same exact features. It depends on the trim.

So, research the car’s trim level and see if its features match your preferences. It may turn out that the model doesn’t have what you need, or conversely, that it has more than you need, so you’re better off finding a lower trim.

Statistics Show That Test Drives Are Not Necessary at All!

The truth is that unless you are brand new to the car world, you probably already know what model that you want to purchase. For example, if you’re a hardcore Wrangler fan, you already know what Wrangler models drive like. It doesn’t change much over the years. Further proof of this lies in the studies. One study by Cox Automotive shows that one-third of vehicle buyers know which model they want when they start shopping. In this case, a test drive is redundant and completely unnecessary.

Further statistics show that 1 in 6 car buyers skip out on test drives even when they’re offered to them. This further proves that most drivers are confident in what they want before they go to get it. While some car shoppers are totally new to the game, checking out multiple brands and models, most folks already know what they need. The main concern with buying used is what condition that model is in, not which model they should choose.

However, if you’re in a situation where you’re deciding between two competing models, or you’re just not sure which model to get, these tips for buying used cars online without a test drive are just as relevant. When you’re deciding between two competitors, a bonus tip is to compare fuel economies, safety ratings, and prices. You may be surprised to find out that one model offers more features and better fuel economy for a lower price than the other model. This happens frequently, and the good news is that you don’t need to test drive a model just to compare specs. The site you’re buying from should offer all the information that you need, but if not, refer to those CARFAX reports and other spec sites to make your comparisons.

A blurred image of a car showroom shows multiple red cars.

Why Buying a Car Online Is Still Safe Without the Test Driving Experience?

Technically speaking, test driving is actually better when you buy cars online. Here’s why. Many online car dealerships offer short-term warranties that allow you to keep your newly purchased car for up to 10 days before you make the final decision to keep it. Online.cars offers this specific warranty. What this means is that rather than test driving a vehicle for half an hour or so and being forced to make a decision, you have over a week or up to 1,000 miles to see if that car is right for you. Dealerships like Online.cars will let you send the car back for no added charge if you decide within that respective time frame that you don’t like the car.

Not only do these car buying tips help keep you out of needing a test drive, but even if that’s not enough for you, you can find comfort in the 10-day fee-free warranty period. Buying a car online is not risky, like you may have assumed. It’s a legitimate process, just as long as you trust the right websites and do your research!

The main perk to buying a car online rather than test driving it in-person lies in convenience. You can apply for financing online, complete the buying process over the phone or via messaging, and have the vehicle delivered right to your door or to your workplace. Plus, many online used car dealers offer much more variety because they have access to a larger vehicle pool, meaning you can find much better deals on used cars when you shop this way. Overall, buying a used car online is a great and convenient way to take home your next new, used model.