How to shop and buy used cars online and skip the dealership.

How to Buy Used Cars Online & Skip the Dealership

You’re a smart car shopper. We know already know this because you’ve come to, and it probably means you do your used car shopping and research online.

But what about the actual buying? New car dealers are getting more web-savvy but until now the same hasn’t been true for the used car market. Vroom is a cutting edge company that has set out to change the way smart car shoppers buy a used car online.

Vroom is a web business that makes it easy to buy a used car. They’ll handle all aspects of the used car buying process, including your trade-in and even arrange financing. Vroom works more like a car dealership than a marketplace where sellers advertise, but it doesn’t have physical showrooms. There are no salespeople to work with, haggle with, or worry about, and the entire process is transparent.

Buying a used car from a dealership can be painful. Used car salespeople are often hard to work with. Even though some are charming and delightful, you’re usually left wondering if they just made a fat profit from you. The alternative is to buy privately, but that’s too much risk and not enough return for most people.

Here we’ll explain why it’s such a pain to buy a used car from a dealership. We’ll also touch briefly on the downsides of the private seller route. Then we’ll share how Vroom lets you buy a used car without setting foot on a dealer’s lot.

Top Five Reasons for Avoiding the Dealership

Let’s run through these in reverse order, from least bad to worst.

5. You don’t get a warranty. Yes, you can go the Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) route but you’ll pay handsomely for the privilege.

4. No do-overs. Once you drive off the lot you can’t change your mind. If after a few hours you find the car isn’t as comfortable as it seemed during the test drive, tough. The only way to get rid is to sell it, almost certainly for a big loss.

3. Huge time-suck. You may be able to look at inventory online, but you’ll still need to drive around visiting dealerships, during their open hours. Many don’t open Sundays, so what are you supposed to do? Use your vacation days?

2. Your choice is restricted by the distance you’re willing to travel. That might be okay if you’re not picky, but how about if you want a specific model, trim and color? (You’re spending a lot of your hard-earned cash. Why settle for a car that’s not what you want?)

1. Haggling. Some people get a kick from trying to drive a hard bargain, but they’re a minority and even they have limits on how much time they’re willing to spend on this. Most people though don’t enjoy it all, you could even say they dread it. They don’t want to come across as unpleasant or mean, so they end up paying more than they should.

Negatives When Dealing with a Private Seller

You’ll get the lowest price from a private seller, but there are some real downsides:

  • Meeting with strangers in a place you don’t know or are unfamiliar with can be awkward and uncomfortable. Even if it’s in a public setting.
  • Doing a high-dollar deal with strangers can be dangerous if not well prepared. Especially if your plans include a cash transaction.
  • Wondering if everything is on the level and if the car really doesn’t have any hidden mechanical or paperwork issues such as a fraudulent title.

In addition, all those reasons for avoiding the used car dealership apply to private sellers also.

Buying a Used Car Online

Let’s start with a clarification. There are lots of marketplace sites where you can shop for a used car online. These sites will let sellers advertise their vehicles and enable car buyers like yourself to find them. But after that initial contact you’re either buying privately, from an individual, or going to a used car dealer. You’re not actually buying the car online.

That’s where Vroom comes in. Vroom is essentially an online used car dealership. Their business model is based on the premise that buying a used car should be as easy and straightforward as buying anything else over the internet.

Vroom operates across the lower 48, selling mostly newer model cars and trucks. These go through a stringent inspection and reconditioning process in either of their Texas or Indiana distribution centers. That ensures every vehicle is safe and in good condition.

Use this handy Car Payment Estimator to calculate the payment on any vehicle.

The buying process is simple and transparent. Financing is available and they’ll buy your current car if you need to trade it. Your new-to-you, car is shipped to your door free of charge. Just about every vehicle sold carries a limited warranty of approximately 90 days or 6,000 miles. Better yet, they also have a seven day/250 mile return policy. In other words, if the car doesn’t fit your garage, or you don’t like it for any other reason, they’ll let you change it within that period. Try getting that deal from a traditional used car dealership!

How Vroom Works

Vroom’s home page has a very clean and simple layout. An About link takes you to a page with more information on the company. If you want to dig deeper there’s an excellent FAQ reached from a link at the bottom of the Home page. The main links you’ll use though are Buy, Sell and perhaps Finance.

Vroom can help you buy a car completely online, without haggling over price like with commission-based dealerships.

Buying a Used Car Through Vroom

Clicking on the Buy link opens up a photo grid of vehicles for sale. You could just scroll through the nearly 3,000 cars, trucks and SUVs shown there, (it’s fun to see what’s available,) but for speed use the filters over on the left. You can search by make and model, body style, year, price and mileage.

Easily browse and search thousands of used cars that can be delivered straight to your location.

When you see something you like, click on the picture. That takes you to a page full of details about that particular vehicle, plus a lot of high resolution photos. These give you a really good look at the car you’re interested in. You can also click on a Payment Calculator to find out what your monthly payment would be.

When you’ve found the right car, just click the Start Purchase button. It really is that easy. Incidentally, if you finance through Vroom they’ll even take care of the registration paperwork. (Pay cash or get your financing elsewhere and they’ll mail you the title.)

Trading Your Car in with Vroom

Trading-in streamlines the car-buying process, and helps with cash flow too! Vroom will actually buy your old car from you. Again, there’s a very simple interface. Just enter in the details of what you’re selling and they’ll make you an offer. If you accept their offer they’ll pick your car up free-of-charge. This works well if you just want to sell a car, but it really simplifies the whole selling and buying process when you’re upgrading to a newer ride.

You can easily trade-in your vehicle or sell it outright online with Vroom.

Basic Information About Your Trade-in

If you want to trade or sell your current vehicle to Vroom. There are a few things you will need to gather before proceeding.

Since you’re basically selling your car to them “sight-unseen.” They will want to know a few basic details about your vehicle. These include year, make, model, mileage, tire condition, overall condition, is there a lien holder, has it ever been in an accident, etc.

They will also ask about any additional features and will want to see pictures of the car. I would suggest taking many pictures. Don’t try and hide imperfections. Take good, clear pictures of them. Remember, you’re wanting an honest unbiased opinion of what your vehicle is really worth. The more pictures, the better.

Basic information to gather on your vehicle before selling or trading it in with Vroom.

Advantages of Vroom Over Traditional Used Car Dealerships

Vroom addresses those five reasons we gave earlier for avoiding the used car dealership. There’s no haggling, you’ve got great choice and it’s fast and convenient. You do your car shopping at a time that suits you, not the dealership. You also get a warranty, and if it turns out the car isn’t right for you, you get a do-over! Could it get any better?

What makes Vroom different from traditional commission dealerships.

Actually yes, it could. The thing we haven’t talked about yet is money. Not only do you save gas by not trudging round all your local dealerships, but you get a great deal. Vroom claims you’ll, “Save 8% on Average.” Now that figure may be a little hard to substantiate, so why not do some comparison shopping and find out?

Vroom Included Warranties and Coverage

Vroom understands you’re buying a vehicle online and you will want added benefits and peace of mind. Every vehicle purchased with Vroom will include the following features to help put your mind at ease:

7-Day Return Policy: Spend up to 7 days (or up to 250 miles) with your new Vroom vehicle. If it’s not right, they’ll take it back. Simply call your Vroom representative to request a return. (You will not be charged a return shipping charge)

Limited Warranty*: Vroom provides a complimentary 90-day (or up to 6,000 miles) warranty. This provides you with peace of mind knowing that any unforeseen repairs can be handled at any local dealership or ASE Certified repair shop of your choice.

24/7 Roadside Assistance for One Year: Every vehicle purchased comes with one year of 24-hour, nationwide roadside assistance. If you lock yourself out of your car or you battery dies, Vroom has your back.

They also offer several additional protection packages, such as extended warranties and GAP protection at an additional cost. See their website, for more details here – Vroom.

Vroom Delivers to Your Location

Once Vroom has received your funds and approved your signed contract, their Fulfillment Team will book your new used car for transport with one of their trusted carriers.

Once assigned, they will email you an estimated date of delivery when your vehicle is ready to be transported. As soon as your vehicle is on its way, they will email you again with an updated delivery date.

Vroom will ship your used car to your home or a convenient nearby location.

Keeping transparency in mind, Vroom does not attempt to hide the delivery price of the vehicle within the purchase price. This fee is normally less than a destination fee or dealer prep fee you will find at a traditional dealership.

Vroom charges $499 to ship a vehicle on an open-carrier delivery truck within the contiguous 48 states. For $799, they will deliver eligible vehicles to a location of your choice inside an enclosed trailer. If you’re interested in closed trailer delivery, you will want to let your Vroom representative know during your transaction. Enclosed trailers may take longer than standard open truck deliveries. Larger vehicles such as SUV’s, oversize trucks and larger vehicles may not be eligible for enclosed trailer delivery.

Qualified customers can include the cost of shipping in their financing. You can also opt to pick up the vehicle in-person at their location near Houston, Texas.

Downsides to Vroom?

Honestly, it’s hard to see any. The only thing that stands out is the test drive. While Vroom gives you seven days and 250 miles to change your mind, that would be a bit of a hassle. Visiting a couple of dealerships to drive the vehicles you’re interested in might still be a good idea.

Let the salesman know up front you’re in the beginning stages of buying a car and not sure exactly what you want. Let them know you would like to just test drive a couple vehicles to see which ones might interest you.

If the salesperson is any good, he or she may still ask you to buy a car. Stick to your plan, test drive the vehicles you’re interested in, politely thank them for their time and leave. Whatever you do, don’t tell the salesman you’re going to use Vroom or anyone else. If they know there’s no chance you’re buying from them, they might start giving you the run-around!

Vroom is a Better Way to Buy a Used Car Online

Shopping for a used car has always been a tedious, drawn out and sometimes depressing experience. Online marketplaces make it easier to find the car you want but you still have to check it out and negotiate with the seller. Vroom is a huge leap forward in used car buying. It’s simple and transparent. A warranty and the opportunity to take the car back provide peace-of-mind, and best of all, it’s a great deal!

Now a little plug for While we welcome anything that helps you buy a car, it’s still important to tread carefully. Buying a car means parting with a lot of money. Before doing that, make sure you understand the entire car buying process by doing a little research and how to avoid being scammed. It very well may save you thousands of dollars on your next new or used car purchase.  Auto Cheat Sheet is here to help.

The number one tip for saving the most money when buying a new or used car is to always take your time and “DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!”

Use this handy Car Payment Estimator to calculate the payment on any vehicle.

As always, I recommend using an online referral service such as Ryde Shopper or Motor Trend before physically walking into a car dealership. Their free online price quotes will automatically help level the playing field with the dealer and let you know right away which dealer’s are willing to be more flexible on price. Please consider them the next time you decide to buy a used car online, they will save you a lot of money.