More than likely you will spend a significant amount of time on the web when you start researching your next vehicle, over 90% of car shoppers do. Whether you go to directly to several car dealer websites or you are referred via a link from the automakers website or some other online web property you will ultimately find yourself looking at the new or used vehicles offered by a specific dealership. Not every car dealership had a website several years ago, but they do today because a very large percentage of their business is generated via the Internet.
The average car dealership website displays numerous photos, descriptions and pricing for all their available new and used vehicles for sale. The site will also display current manufacturer incentives, a credit application, store and department hours, phone numbers, contact forms, price quote request forms, service appointments, parts ordering and a host of other services to make things easier for their customers. The automotive industry has become an online driven business and this is a benefit for the car shopper today.
Rules and Regulations for Car Dealer Websites
Regardless of what you may think the Internet is regulated, monitored and policed when it comes to the auto industry and car dealerships. Car dealers are held responsible for publishing accurate information including all the disclaimers required by both the auto manufacturers and the attorney general in the state where they reside. The auto manufacturers allow their new car dealerships to only have one website that is linked from manufacture’s website and that website must adhere to very strict rules in order stay in good graces with them.
The car dealers website is typically monitored and inspected on a monthly basis by the automakers to ensure that the information pertaining to their new cars, incentives and financing is accurate and timely. Most automakers will not allow their new vehicles to be discounted below dealer invoice online because they feel this practices lowers the value. Dealers that don’t comply may lose certain rights, privileges and incentives, which can amount to thousands of dollars. Therefore most dealers will keep their websites current and accurate, but there are some sneaky dealers that will do some things online to attract customers.
Caveats and Car Dealer Websites
Car dealer websites can help you on your car-buying quest, but there are a few things you should know about these virtual car dealer showrooms. Most people assume that the vehicles shown on a dealership site are available for a test drive and a possible purchase, but remember the old saying about what happens when you assume. Dealers are selling cars and receiving cars everyday which means that their website should be updated on a daily basis, but for a number of reasons those updates can be several days after the transaction. That means a car that you saw on a car dealer website today could have been sold a couple of days ago.
Dealers don’t intentionally neglect removing sold vehicles from their websites, because it is usually an automated process that is controlled by the amount of time it takes for a dealer to complete all paperwork and then the amount of time their website provider takes make the changes. Ideally this would be done daily, but often times it could take 2 to 5 days before the dealer website reflects transactions. The point here is that you shouldn’t count on a car dealers website to be 100% accurate because things are always changing. So don’t be surprised if you visit a dealership to see a particular car and they tell you it was sold yesterday. They are not lying to you its just how things work.
The same holds true when you call a dealer looking for a specific car and they tell you that they have the car, but it’s not shown on their car dealer website. The process of adding new inventory to a dealer’s site can also take days to complete. However I am not saying you should completely believe what a car salesman at the dealerships says over the phone because some dealers will say anything to get you to visit the dealership.
Overall car dealer websites can be very helpful when it comes to car buying whether it is new or used, but you need to pay close attention to the disclaimers. Don’t believe everything you see or read on a car dealers site because if look closely and on the right page you will find a disclaimer that states that the car dealership is not responsible for errors or omissions. This statement means there could be mistakes on the website and/or may contain incorrect prices and that the dealer is not responsible, so let the buyer beware.