How to Buy a Used Car Online Skipping the Dealership

Read my Vroom review to find out if you can really get a better deal buying a used car online.

You’re a savvy car shopper. We know this because you’ve come to, which 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 accurate for the used car market. Vroom is a cutting-edge company that has changed how intelligent car shoppers buy a used car online.

Top Five Reasons for Avoiding the Dealership

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 to finance. 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. It’s often difficult to negotiate with frontline used car salespeople. 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.

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, though. The only way to get rid is to sell it for a significant 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. Restricted choices 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 pay 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 strangers in a place, you don’t know or are unfamiliar with can be awkward and uncomfortable, even in a public setting.
  • Doing a high-dollar deal with strangers can be dangerous if not well prepared, mainly if your plans include a cash transaction.
  • You wonder if everything is on the level and if the car 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 many 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 buying the car online.

That’s where Vroom comes in. Vroom is essentially an online used car dealership. Their business approach is built on the idea that acquiring a secondhand automobile should be as simple as buying anything online.

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

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. 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 in 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 traditionally used car dealership!

How Vroom Works

Vroom’s home page has an immaculate and straightforward 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 are Buy, Sell, and Finance.

Vroom can help you buy a car 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 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.

Quickly 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 many high-resolution photos. These give you a perfect look at the car you’re interested in buying. You can also click on a Payment Calculator to find out what your monthly payment would be.

When you’ve found the right car, click the Start Purchase button. It 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 a Car in With Vroom

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

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

Basic Information About Your Trade

Suppose 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 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 lienholder, has it ever been in an accident, etc.

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

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 a 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.  You save gas by not trudging around all your local dealerships, and 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 car 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. 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 assures you that any unexpected repairs may be handled at any local dealership or ASE Certified repair shop of your choosing.

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 your battery dies, Vroom has your back.

They also offer 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 delivery date when your vehicle is ready to be transported. As soon as your car 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 usually less than a destination 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 cars to a location of your choice inside an enclosed trailer. If you’re interested in closed trailer delivery, you will want to inform your Vroom representative during your transaction. Enclosed trailers may take longer than standard open truck deliveries. Larger vehicles such as SUVs, 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.

What are the 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 few dealerships to drive the vehicles you’re interested in might still be a good idea.

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

If the salesperson is any good, they 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 find out, you’re unlikely to buy 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 finding the vehicle you want more accessible, but you still have to check it out and negotiate with the seller.  Vroom is a giant 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.  Purchasing a vehicle 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 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 always to take your time and “DO YOUR RESEARCH FIRST!”

As always, I recommend using an online referral service such as Ryde Shopper, Edmunds, or Motor Trend before 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 dealers are willing to be more flexible on price.  Please consider them the next time you buy a used car online.  They will save you a lot of money.

About the author
Carlton Wolf is the author and founder of Auto Cheat Sheet.My name is Carlton Wolf, and I’ve been in the car business since 1994, both retail and wholesale. I created the Auto Cheat Sheet to better educate buyers about the deceptive sales practices used by many dealerships throughout the country. Please understand that not all car dealers are dishonest. However, you never know who you’ll be dealing with, though. I’m willing to share my knowledge and experience with anyone who listens. Keep in mind that I’m a car guy, not a writer.