Buying cars online vs. traditional dealers: Which is cheaper?

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Online shopping has yielded big savings for people who opt to stay out of the stores, but what about when it comes to buying a car?

Although some people may prefer to visit their local car dealership rather than use their computer, savings can be found online, according to a new report.

Can you save more buying a car online or at the dealership?

Car search engine recently released a study that found people who bought vehicles online saved $185, or 0.8% on average. And some car models led to even more savings.

The site analyzed 2018 sales on more than 9.4 million used cars to come up with the results. Here are the vehicles that provide the biggest online savings, according to

Top 10 cars with the most savings at online dealerships

Rank Car Average Savings Over Brick-and-Mortar Dealers
1 Chevrolet Silverado 1500 6.6%
2 Ford Edge  6.4%
3 Toyota RAV4  5.7%
4 Ram Pickup 1500 5.5%
5 BMW 4 Series 5.4%
6 Chevrolet Equinox  5.2%
7 Honda CR-V  4.9%
8 Mercedes-Benz E-Class 4.8%
9 Lincoln MKC  4.8%
10 Jeep Cherokee 4.4%

Admittedly, some people may be a little hesitant about making such a major purchase online. But for others, the high-pressure environment of a dealership is just as bad, according to iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly.

“Today’s car buyer wants to spend as little time as possible at the car dealership,” Ly is quoted as saying.

Ly says the best car-buying sites and apps can deliver significant savings, generous return policies and rigorous vehicle inspections.

Clark Howard: Here’s when you should go car shopping

Still, there may be some people who are just more comfortable visiting a car dealer — and that’s OK.

Money expert Clark Howard, who has bought a family car or two (or three), says it’s important that you be able to shop for a vehicle pressure-free. His advice is to check out the dealership after-hours.

“Look at cars when a dealership is closed, so there’s no salesperson to pressure you,” Clark says. “The best way to test drive a car is to rent it for a day or two. It’s the ultimate test drive.”

To learn more about the process of buying a vehicle, read Clark’s step-by-step guides for buying a new car and buying a used car.


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