Save Money On Your Next Car Purchase By Using Unconventional Methods

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The following is a post by MPFJ staff writer, Toi Williams, who is a professional personal finance blogger of Fine Tuned Finances. She has backgrounds in personal finance, sales, and real estate.

When most people think about purchasing a car, they all think about the same process. They travel to the nearest car dealership, look around for a bit, and then buy the car that has the features that they want and fits into their predetermined price range.

Fortunately, that is not the only method available for purchasing a car. In fact, some of the more unconventional methods can save you a great deal of money if you go about it correctly. 

Here are some unconventional car buying techniques that you may want to consider.

Buying A Car Online

One of the newest trends in car buying is purchasing a car online. Many online venues are available that allow shoppers to purchase new or used cars from the comfort of their own home. There are many benefits to purchasing your next car from an online retailer, but there are some things you must be careful to avoid as well.
Purchasing a car online can be a much more pleasant experience than shopping for one using the traditional method of traveling to multiple dealerships. Online pricing is competitive because it is easy to compare prices across a wide selection of retailers in a relatively short period of time. You can even arrange for aftermarket products to be added or arrange financing for the car while online.
Different websites sell cars using slightly different techniques that appeal to a diverse array of consumers. Some websites allow you to submit the type of car you are looking for and have dealers in your local area send free quotes for the car to your email address. Other online companies act like a broker between the buyers and sellers and may even deliver the chosen car to your door when the transaction is complete. There are even online auction sites where you can bid on the car that you want.
The biggest drawback to purchasing a car online is that you don’t get to see how a car handles until you are nearly done with the process. If you want to see how a type of car feels before you start narrowing down your options, you will have to go to a dealership to test drive it. However, you can often get much better deals online than you would have from the salespeople at your local dealership.

Buying A Car At Auction

Making your purchase at a car auction can save you a great deal of money. The cars are often offered at great deals, especially if you are the only one really interested in that particular car. There are not many people that shop at car auctions because they find the process intimidating, but there are some tricks that will give you the edge over other bidders.
It is important for you to have your own copy of a car value guide when you attend a car auction. Get to the auction as early as possible so that you have a chance to view the vehicles that are available before the bidding begins. Look up the values of the cars that you are interested in so that you know how much to bid. Do not get caught up in a bidding frenzy because there is a good chance that you will end up overpaying for the car.
Many people do not know that auction houses add a premium to the final sale price of any vehicle sold at the auction. This amount pays the auction company for holding the action and hiring the auctioneer. The premium can be either a set amount or a percentage of the total car price. Be sure to inquire about the amount of the premium and keep it in mind when you are bidding on cars to ensure you can afford the final cost.
Attending a local car auction can be a great way to get a car for a good price. However, the selection at car auctions is limited to the vehicles that are currently on hand. Also, the cars are purchased as-is, meaning that you have little recourse if anything goes wrong with the car soon after purchase. If you get to the auction early enough, you can ask about the history of the cars you are interested in and some auction houses offer the option to run a vehicle background check to see if the car has been in an accident or suffered major damage in the past.

Using Crowdfunding To Purchase A Car

There are not many people that know about using crowdfunding to purchase a car. Most people’s knowledge is limited to a single 2013 Super Bowl commercial touting the method as the next great thing in car buying. The premise behind crowdfunding is simple. Obtain small amounts of money from various lenders, or individuals willing to give you money, until you have raised enough to purchase the car you desire. In this way, it is essentially Peer-2-Peer Lending as offered by companies like Prosper and LendingClub.  
Obtaining the money from lenders is often easier than finding enough friends and family members willing to pay money towards your new car. The interest rates offered on these loans are often less than you would have to pay to a traditional lender for the same loan amount. The loan terms are comparable, with most loans being repaid over 3 to 5 years depending on the amount of the loan.
Borrowers are prescreened by the crowdfunding company, which acts like a broker between the borrower and the lenders funding the loan. The company will verify your identity and check your credit score do determine how much of a risk you will be to their lenders. If you meet all of the qualifications, you will be allowed to list your loan request and will be notified when your loan has been fully funded. The only thing left after that is to go and buy your new car.
How about you all? Have you tried any of these car buying methods? How did they work out?

Share your experiences by commenting below!

    ***Photo courtesy of


    1. FrugalRules says:

      Great tips! When we bought our last car, about five years ago, we did quite a bit online. We actually had two dealerships against each other. One was in person and the other online. The online dealership gave us an offer that could not be turned down and once we told the guy we had worked with in person he was willing to match the offer.
      My recent post Financial Literacy: Taking Your First Financial Steps

    2. myfijourney says:

      I will probably get my next used car from a dealership. If I was going to buy a brand new car, I would certainly try out online purchases.
      My recent post A Brief Primer on Options: Part 1 (What are options?)

    3. FinancialBlackSheep says:

      Great ideas if you need help buying a car. Personally I use Craigslist and cash. It's works better for me, because if I wait for what I want I always find a deal. Plus, I have NO debt. 😀
      My recent post Happy Back into Debt Day (*Sarcasm)

      • Toi Williams says:

        Buying a car without incurring debt is an idea that more people should explore. Too many people find themselves in debt trouble because they bought a more expensive car than their finances could support.

    4. I have used buying a car online as a negotiating tactic, but have never had to purchase that way. It is great having dealers willing to accommodate you so much that you can compare prices from a pretty far radius to your local dealers and, I have found, they will bend. I am just glad that I can go online in general armed with plenty of data before dealing with the sales people.
      My recent post Got the Skills to Pay the Bills?

    5. I've truly never heard of crowdfunding before, but it seems very interesting. Great tips, and I think i'm going to research crowdfunding more before I need to buy my next car.
      My recent post 5 Cheap Dates for Frugal Romance

      • Toi Williams says:

        Crowdfunding is a fairly new financing technique that can be used for a wide variety of applications, including starting a small business, paying off higher interest debt, obtaining a down payment for a home, or remodeling. It could be very beneficial to check it out and see the risks and benefits associated with it.

    6. Jenny@FrugalGuru says:

      Prosper and Lending Club both have much higher interest rates than the average car loan. Their rates are only low for credit card debt. Savvy investors at both steer clear from auto loans, which have a high default rate.

    7. Quintessential Entrepreneur says:

      Hi Jacob,

      First of all, I’ve gotta say great article. These are all great methods to buying a car for a great price. Just a few more tips I’d like to share with you and the readers, more specifically aimed at car auctions, as I’ve been in the automotive auction industry for the past few years now as an entrepreneur. Okay so,

      Typically, there are two types of auctions, the general, open to the public auto auctions, and the dealers only auctions.

      If you happen to know a few dealers, you can get your cars at auction for even less. I’m talking hundreds to thousands. I myself am a liason between dealers and consumers who want cars for less than what you would find at a dealership and even an public access auction. Depending upon the auction, not all vehicles are sold as is and can sometimes be sold what we call “green light” or seller’s guarantee which can be inspected before or after the sale for any issues.

      If you have someone who isn’t too picky, salvage cars purchased at auction are also really great steals – and just because they’re salvage, doesn’t always mean they were involved in a wreck where the structure has been compromised.

      So to add, there’s even more ways you can grab a deal at auction, for example a 2012 Dodge Voyager family vehicle for $5000 instead of $18,000 – or a Maserati that can go for anything in the $20,000s instead of $100,000s. This is where knowing a good dealer or a liason comes in. So in fact, it’s also a really great business to get into. There’s tons of other great tricks and methods for buying an automobile at epic prices, in fact I wrote an e-book on it.
      My recent post For The Car Enthusiast.

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