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Buying a Car Online - Should I or Shouldn't I?

For those of you who have resisted getting connected to the magical world of online services, being able to purchase your next car without ever dealing with a snide salesman or a frumpy finance counselor may have you rushing to the computer store.

Online services have been a major time and cost saver when it comes to sending electronic mail or just transmitting information to offices and clients. But more and more frequently these services are being used to purchase any conceivable product, from your favorite shirt at Land's End to a stuffed-crust pizza from Pizza Hut. So it was only a matter of time before automotive manufacturers and their dealerships got into the act and began peddling their wares over the Net.

Every automotive manufacturer has a "website," where you'll find a virtual showroom, with pictures of each vehicle, complete specifications, available options and color choices and sometimes comparable information about its product and competitive vehicles. You'll also see what kinds of specials the manufacturer is offering on that car, learn some of the history of the manufacturer and find out the nearest location where you can take a test drive. Some will even schedule appointments for you.

Outside of the manufacturers, though, there are thousands of other sites that pertain to purchasing a vehicle. One site is called the "All Internet Shopping Directory," which has a special automotive section that includes not only where to look for new cars, but also car rentals, leasing deals, car maintenance and car care products, professional shops and even tips on car buying.

Another choice is "Classifieds 2000," which allows you to specify the exact criteria you're looking for in a used car, and it will match it up with those listing cars for sale and notify you everyday of those matches. It's like reading the classifieds section of every paper in the country. If you have a vehicle to sell, you can list it with them free, as well. Who says technology isn't wonderful!

If you think you might need help in your purchasing endeavor, one site you might want to check out Edmunds.coml, and you don't even need to be on the web to get to the company, though you can at Yahoo! Autos. Tell theml what you're looking for specifically, and it processes the request and matches it up with one of its 1400 subscribing dealers. The dealer then calls you with the lowest price possible on the vehicle. It doesn't get much simpler.

Many automotive websites, like Road & Travel Magazine, offer is a guide to all the used cars a dealer has on their lots, and includes a color photo of each so you can see what you're getting.

But automobiles have no stranglehold on the marketplace. If you're interested in motorcycles, there are plenty of websites covering this too. Motorcycle manufacturers also have dedicated sites. Yamaha, Honda, Harley-Davidson and Suzuki will give you all the information you could want on each new touring, sport or cruiser bike, along with information on scooters, dealer locations and pricing.

If you already have a vehicle, the Internet is great for finding what's new in the industry, making contacts with those who share your love for your vehicle/bike or just seeing what's new in accessories, performance upgrades, products and maintenance.

For those of you who may have brushed this off as a passing fad, think again. Get onboard because before long, the car salesman may be a thing of the past. With the Internet, it really is time to let your fingers "do the walking."