Buying a Car Online

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Purchasing a car online has become as straightforward as buying a book or a T-shirt in recent times. However, given that a car represents a significantly more substantial investment, it’s crucial to stay sharp and informed. This guide highlights key considerations for buying cars online.

How to Buy a New Car Online

Choosing Your Model

The process of buying a new car online is quite straightforward with most vehicle manufacturers. You have the liberty to select the model that suits your preferences and specifications.

Delivery to Your Local Dealership

Once you’ve made your choice, the manufacturer will arrange for the car to be delivered to your nearest dealership once it’s ready. This simplifies the process, making it convenient and efficient.

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What Are the Advantages of Buying a Used Car Online?

Greater Variety of Choices

When you opt to buy a used car online, you are presented with a wider array of choices. This expansive selection increases your chances of finding the perfect car that meets your needs and preferences.

What Are The Advantages Of Buying A Used Car Online

Potential for Finding Bargains

Online platforms often provide the opportunity to discover a bargain. The competitive nature of the online marketplace can lead to more attractively priced options.


Purchasing a used car online can be more cost-effective. Particularly, if you have the option to buy directly from the seller, this can help you avoid the additional costs associated with a dealer’s mark-up.

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What Are the Disadvantages of Buying a New Car Online?

Risk of Dissatisfaction

One potential drawback of purchasing a new car online is the risk that you might not be entirely pleased with it.

Selecting your car’s specifications remotely can be more convenient, but it lacks the assurance that comes from seeing and experiencing the car in person.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Buying A New Car Online

Extended Waiting Period

Ordering a new car online often involves a long wait for delivery. Unlike buying from a showroom, where you can drive your new car away immediately, online purchases don’t offer this instant gratification.

Lack of Physical Inspection and Test Drive

Another significant disadvantage is the inability to inspect or test drive the car before purchase. When buying online, you miss out on the opportunity to check the car’s condition in real life and to see how it feels to drive it.

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What Are the Disadvantages of Buying a Used Car Online?

Lack of Physical Inspection

A key disadvantage of purchasing a used car online is the inability to physically inspect the vehicle. Without seeing the car in person, it’s challenging to ascertain its true condition, which can be crucial in evaluating its value and suitability.

What Are The Disadvantages Of Buying A Used Car Online

No Test Drive Opportunity

Additionally, buying a used car online means you miss out on the opportunity to test drive the vehicle. Test driving is often an essential step in the car buying process, allowing you to gauge the car’s performance and comfort first-hand.

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What Should I Look for When Buying a Used Car Online?

Conduct Thorough Research

When embarking on the journey to buy a used car online, it’s vital to do your due diligence. Research extensively to understand the fair market value of the car you’re interested in.

Factors such as the make, model, and year of manufacture can significantly influence the price. A well-researched understanding helps in identifying a good deal when you see one.

Check the Car’s History

Utilise the government’s website to check the MOT history of the car by entering its registration number. This check will reveal the car’s mileage and its MOT pass record.

Additionally, various online services can provide insights into the car’s past, such as if it was written off, stolen, or if there’s any outstanding car finance. Some services might also offer information on mileage discrepancies or provide a car valuation.

Explore Options Beyond Local Areas

Consider looking for cars outside your immediate geographical area. Prices can vary significantly based on location, with costs often being higher in London and the South East. Exploring other regions could lead to finding better deals.

Be Ready to Negotiate

Negotiation is key in the process of buying a used car, whether from a dealership or an individual seller.

Most sellers anticipate negotiation, so it’s advisable to start by offering around 10% less than the asking price. Being prepared to negotiate, especially with a cash payment, can lead to substantial savings.

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What Are My Consumer Rights When Buying a Car Online?

Protection Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015

When purchasing a new or used car from a dealer, you are safeguarded by the Consumer Rights Act 2015.

This act entitles you to return a faulty car within 30 days for a full refund. This is a crucial right that ensures you are not left disadvantaged if the vehicle does not meet the standard or quality promised.

Online Purchase Rights

For purchases made online, consumer protection laws grant you the right to return any item, including a car, within 14 days for any reason. This “cooling-off” period is particularly beneficial when buying something as significant as a car.

Reading the Fine Print

However, it’s important to be aware of any potential charges or clauses. Always thoroughly read the terms and conditions to understand any additional obligations or expenses that might apply when returning a car bought online.

This ensures you are fully informed about the terms of the sale and your rights as a consumer.

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When I Buy a Car Online, Can I Check Its History?

Availability of History Checks

Certainly, you can check the history of a car when purchasing online. Various companies offer services to perform a one-time history check.

Alternatively, for a slightly higher fee, you can opt for a package that allows you to check multiple vehicles over a certain period.

This is particularly useful if you’re considering several options and don’t want to incur high costs for each separate check.

When I Buy A Car Online, Can I Check Its History

Seller-Provided History Reports

You can also inquire with the seller whether they have conducted an AutoCheck or similar vehicle history report. Many sellers might already have this information available, which can provide valuable insights into the car’s past.

Vehicle Inspection Services

Some car check providers also offer a vehicle inspection service. This service includes a thorough examination to identify any serious mechanical or structural issues.

The inspection often includes a road test of the car, which is beneficial if you’re unable to test drive the car yourself.

While this service does add to the overall cost, it can be a worthwhile investment to avoid future expenses.

However, it’s important to remember that such inspections can only identify problems apparent at the time of the check.

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Frequently asked questions

Yes, you have the right to return a car that you’ve purchased online within a 14-day “cooling-off” period, as per consumer protection regulations.

However, it’s important to review the terms and conditions, as some sellers may impose a mileage limit to prevent the return of a car with significant usage that they would need to sell as a used vehicle.

Yes, many dealerships offer the option to part-exchange your old car when buying a new vehicle online.

During the online process, you may be asked a series of questions about your current car and may also be required to provide detailed photos of it.

This allows the dealer to assess the value of your old car and provide you with a part-exchange offer to offset the cost of your new purchase.

Yes, it is common for dealerships to offer finance agreements online, allowing you to conveniently spread the cost of purchasing a car.

This option enables you to explore various finance deals and choose the one that best suits your financial needs and preferences.

Using a credit card to purchase a car online can offer additional protection in case of any issues, such as non-delivery or damage to the vehicle. However, the level of protection may vary depending on your credit card provider and the specific circumstances.

It’s important to review the terms and conditions of your credit card agreement, as well as the rules of the relevant card scheme (e.g., Mastercard, Visa, American Express).

Keep in mind that some dealers may charge a fee for credit card transactions, and others may not accept credit cards as a payment method. Additionally, consider your credit card limit and the applicable interest rate.

Exploring other finance options or using your credit card for a partial payment towards the purchase of a new car could be worth considering as well.

Securing a car finance deal online can be challenging if you have bad credit. However, Comparoo can assist you in comparing car loans and finance packages to find suitable options for your circumstances.

To determine the trustworthiness of a dealership or website, it is advisable to conduct a search on the seller or dealer to uncover any negative feedback. Additionally, visiting review websites such as Trustpilot can provide insights from other customers’ experiences.

Furthermore, checking the manufacturer’s website to verify if the dealer is listed can provide further assurance. Taking these steps can help you make an informed decision when purchasing a car online.

Yes, you can request a vehicle history report from the dealership or website.

Many car retailers utilise vehicle-check services to obtain comprehensive information about the car’s service history, and they are usually willing to share these details with you.

This can provide valuable insights into the car’s past maintenance and help you make an informed decision.

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