Consumer Alert: Considering buying your next car online? Read this first.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — You’ve seen the ads. They say you can buy your next car online and have it delivered to your door. But a lawsuit filed in Texas calls into question whether you should just let your fingers do the walking when buying a car.

Imagine buying one car online, but a cheaper model shows up at your house; or the car has dents, dings, and structural damage that no one told you about; or worse yet, the car has a salvage title and never shouldn’t have been sold at all.

In a 21-page lawsuit, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says all that happened to online car customers. The lawsuit is against the online car dealership, Vroom. The website says Vroom makes buying and selling made easy, none of that haggling at a dealership. The site says you can pick your used ride from thousands on their website, upload some documents and wait for your ride to arrive.

The experts at say you should include an online search for your new ride because in this tight market expanding your search is crucial. But they say even if you find your car online, you need to see it in person, test drive it, and then get a pre-purchase inspection. If the car you find online is too far away, they say you have to protect yourself before signing on the dotted line.

You need to confirm upfront whether there is a return policy,” said Karl Brauer, Executive Analyst at "And you still need to get a documented signed version of that policy before you do anything… and you can do online DocuSigns that are legally binding.”

Brauer said that you should insist on signing that binding document before you pay for the car and have it delivered. It’s important to know that legitimate online car sales websites should have a return policy for used cars. Usually, it’s seven days. And read carefully to make sure it doesn’t require you to pay fees in order to return the car.

So with the help of Karl Brauer of, here’s Deanna’s Do List:

  • If your old hooptie is still running, wait six months to a year to buy another car. Even though the cost of used cars has gone down slightly, in Rochester we’re still paying an average of $6,500 more for a used car than we did this time last year.
  • Be flexible. You may not get the car you want. Settle for the car you need.
  • If you have a trade-in, do it. Trade-in values are high.
  • Consider buying out your lease. In this market, it will likely make more sense financially.
  • Compare new and used car prices. In this crazy market, some used cars are actually selling for more than their newer versions.

Be aware that if you’re looking for a vehicle that’s popular in our area, you’ll need to extend your search beyond Western New York. For example, Brauer says the Toyota RAV4, the Subaru Outback, the Nissan Altima and Honda Civic are a few of the vehicles that are big sellers in our market. So if you’re searching for one of those vehicles in our area, you may have to pay more or not find it at all. This is where flexibility comes in.

And I can’t stress this enough. Patience is more than a virtue in the car hunt. Leaders at the giant consulting firm KPMG recently told Automotive News that they expect used car prices will fall 20% to 30% after October of this year.

So I’m going to keep driving my 12-year-old baby for a bit longer.