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| HOME | CANADA | NEW CAR ONLINE BUYING SITES SCORECARD |

Where Can I Buy A Car Online?Canada New Car Online Buying Sites Scorecard

The scorecard below allows you to see at a glance how the online car buying sites we've reviewed operate. If you'd like more in depth information, you can go to the Canada New Car Online Buying Sites page where you can read our full reviews of online buying sites (such as Cars4U.com and General Motors Canada).

The far left column contains a link to an online car buying site - clicking on the name will take you there. The criteria in the rest of the scorecard are pretty self-explanatory but if there is something you don't understand just click on the text at the top of the column. If there are sites we've missed or something you don't agree with please let us know.

Name of SiteSite TypeUp Front Price GivenDealer Inventory ShownFinancing Available Through SiteIs Privacy RespectedTurnaround GuaranteeOnline/Live or Tollfree HelpSecure SiteFree Service
Auto123QNNN NYN1Y
Automobile Protection AssociationBYNN YNN4N
AutoNetQNNY NNN1Y
CarCostCanadaQNNN YYY5N
Cars4UBYNY YYY5Y
eWheelsBYNN YYY5Y
GM CanadaQNYY NNN1Y

Online Quote Request Method

The majority of the online vehicle buying sites on the Internet let you request a quote on your vehicle of choice - a local dealer will then respond with their price on the car you have chosen. Some sites allow you to look at inventory at dealers before you place your quote request but most don't show you what dealers have in stock. Many sites do not show you or allow you to choose which dealer(s) your quote request is going to but some allow you to choose. Almost all sites use your postal code as the criteria for selecting which dealers to send the quote request to. Quote request sites will allow you to configure your selected car with the options you want (including exterior and interior colors) and will probably show you MSRP and invoice price but you won't be shown 'your price' (the eventual price you'll pay) up front.

Advantages

  • you can quickly and easily request quotes on several sites allowing you to get an idea of the availability of your chosen car and what is a good price for it
  • you can find out who has the car actually on their lot without visiting or telephoning dealerships
  • you don't have to haggle with dealers - you (should) get a guaranteed price in writing that the dealership (should) make available to you on the car you have selected

Disadvantages

  • interaction with the dealership is still required
  • you may have to supply more personal information than you really want to (phone number and address) and often on a non-secure form
  • independent financing may not be available (you may have to use the dealership financing unless you have your own arranged beforehand)
  • and most importantly - because many dealerships see online buying as a threat to their livelihood - you may not receive a timely response or have a positive experience using the quote request method

Online Buying

At this time there is one - and only one - truly online buying site available to Canadian consumers (Cars4U). It is hard to understand why more sites don't offer this complete service - especially since a hassle free, set price experience is what consumers have indicated they want when purchasing an automobile. In our books true online car buying sites give you a price upfront - there is no waiting for a dealer to get back to you with their best price. The best sites also allow you to complete financing documents at home before going to the dealer or will have the prepared paper work ready for sign off when you pick up the car at the dealership. Most offer financing as part of the deal and some require a processing fee - usually deductible from the final price of the car - to get the search for your perfect car started.

Advantages

  • for those of you that have had unpleasant experiences being manipulated by salespeople online buying offers a set price and no need to interact with dealers or their staff
  • anecdotal information seems to indicate that you can save money buying online
  • you get the car you want and don't have to resist high-pressure tactics to sell you extras you neither want or can afford
  • saves valuable time that would have to be spent visiting dealerships looking for the car you want

Disadvantages

  • because not all dealerships are participating in online buying sites it may be more difficult to find the car you want
  • if you do not test drive and/or go and look at your chosen vehicle before buying you may be disappointed with it after purchase and will have little recourse if you have bought it online
  • (Sorry - I can't think of any more disadvantages!)

Site type - B is for Online Buying Site - one that actually allows you to complete most of the buying process from home. Q is for Quote Request Site - one that allows you to request a quote on the car you have selected and then has a dealer (or dealers) respond to your request with a quote and availability information via e-mail or telephone.

Up front price given - Are you shown up front what 'your price' for the car will be or do you have to wait for a price to be sent to you via e-mail or telephone?

Dealer inventory shown - Can you see what cars are on the dealer's lot without paying them a visit?

Financing available through site - Can you arrange financing through the site rather than through the dealership?

Is Privacy Respected - Does the site respect your privacy by not asking for unnecessary personal information like street address, phone number or birthdate? (You should expect to answer these type of questions if you wish to apply for financing.)

Turnaround Guarantee - Does the site offer a response time guarantee and let you know where you can contact them if the deadline they specify for response is not met?

Online/live or toll-free help - Is there someone you can call or chat to online if you get stuck somewhere in the process or need a question answered?

Secure site - This is scored out of five - 1 point for a privacy statement, 1 point for a secure page for entering personal information and 3 points for a secure page when entering financial information (like a credit card number).

Free service - Is the car buying service free or must you pay a fee? (Sites that charge a fee but then take that sum off the final price of the car are considered 'free'.)


 
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