Make us your home page


Shop for a car from home

Shop for a car from the comfort of home

Why spend hours of your life visiting one car dealership after another and enduring high-pressure sales pitches when you can find the car of your dreams for less money while dressed in your bathrobe. Consider these tips for online car buying:

1 See the potential. The Internet allows you to quickly compare prices, shop for financing and insurance, compute your monthly payment with online calculators and review a vehicle's suggested retail price and the dealer's invoice price.

2 Know where to begin. Extensive pricing information and reviews are available for new and used cars through Kelley Blue Book (,, and Consumer Reports (

3 Connect with sellers. You can visit car manufacturers' Web sites and find detailed vehicle information and links to dealerships in your area. Craigslist ( and eBay ( put you in contact with independent sellers and dealerships of all sizes, and automotive sites such as help you find the exact make, model, color and specifications you're after.

4 Have the car inspected. Especially if you're buying a used car that's far away, have a mechanic inspect it. Find out if the vehicle has been in an accident. A buyer's inspection costs about a half hour of labor at many shops, and it's worth the cost.

5 Choose an escrow service. Fraudulent sellers may ask you to wire money directly to them or to place money in what could turn out to be a phony escrow account. Choose an escrow service yourself and do some sleuth work to make sure it is legitimate.

6 Ship your vehicle with care. If your future car is in another part of the country, you'll need to have it shipped to you. At uShip (, you can evaluate potential transporters' reputations and have them compete for your shipping job. If you don't have comprehensive insurance coverage, consider the insurance packages offered by major shippers. If you're buying a new or a luxury vehicle, pay the extra money to have it shipped in an enclosed carrier.

7 Check the shipper's record. You can call the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's toll-free hotline at 1-888-368-7238 to inquire about a shipper's license, insurance record and complaint history.

8 Qualify for car financing on your own. If you're working with a car dealership, line up your loan there or get approved before shopping. At, you can eyeball interest rates being offered by a variety of lenders. Credit unions tend to offer good car loan rates; to find one, visit

9 Think about safety. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ( provides data from crash tests on vehicles dating back to 1990. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety ( supplements NHTSA data with results from its independent tests.

10 Anticipate your ownership costs. Visit IntelliChoice ( to see a projection of the likely costs of insurance, depreciation, repairs and maintenance over the next five years for new and used cars.

Laura T. Coffey

([email protected])

Sources:; Better Business Bureau (

Shop for a car from home 05/10/08 [Last modified: Saturday, May 10, 2008 4:33am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. One of the best places for investing in a rental house is in Tampa Bay

    Real Estate

    Two Tampa Bay ZIP Codes are drawing national attention.

    . If you're looking to invest in a house to rent out, few places are better than  ZIP Code 34607 in Hernando County's Spring Hill area, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.
 file photo]

  2. Tampa Chamber of Commerce announces small business winners


    TAMPA — The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce selected the winners of the 2017 Small Business of the Year Awards at a ceremony Wednesday night at the David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Performing Arts. More than 600 attendees celebrated the accomplishments of Tampa Bay's small business community.

    Vincent Cassidy, president and CEO of Majesty Title Services, was named Outstanding Small Business Leader of the Year by the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce.

  3. International array of artists chosen as finalists for pier project

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — A diverse group of six artists will compete for a chance to install their work at the city's multimillion-dollar Pier District, expected to open in early 2019.

  4. Gourmet food fight between top chefs raises $200,000


    ST. PETERSBURG — The chefs came armed with their secret ingredients — pork rinds, truffle butter, pork bellies.

    (From left to right) Chefs Ryan Mitchell, Michael Buttacavoli, Ted Dorsey and Matthew Brennan compete during Tampa Bay Food Fight at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg on Tuesday. The event features chefs from the Tampa Bay area and benefitted Metropolitan Ministries. EVE EDELHEIT   |   Times
  5. HSN star Joy Mangano promotes new book: Inventing Joy


    ST. PETERSBURG — After more than 30 years, Joy Mangano knows a thing or two about promoting products. Now she's promoting herself.

    Inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano is releasing her first new book, Inventing Joy on Nov. 7. [TIERRA SMITH | Times]