Home Automobiles Is it safe to buy a car online in the UK?

Is it safe to buy a car online in the UK?

Is it safe to buy a car online in the UK?
Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik

For many drivers, the prospect of buying a car fully online can be a scary one, but for many who have previously bought a car this way, it is the future! When Covid-19 hit the UK and forced all businesses, including car dealers, to shut up shop, they turned to online car buying in order to keep their business ticking over. Once dealerships were allowed to reopen, physical car buying could resume, and now around 10% of car purchases are happening online, too. If you’ve never bought a car online before, you may be wondering what the benefits are and how the process works. We look at the pros and cons of online car buying, how to find a reputable dealer, and also what your rights are. 

What are the drawbacks of buying a car online? 

Firstly, before you can decide whether buying a car online is right for you, we want to look at why some drivers are put off. 

  • One of the biggest drawbacks is the inability to see the car in person before you buy it without being able to check the car over for yourself or have a test drive of the car to see if you like it. When you buy a car online, you have to take the car at face value and trust in the dealer you are buying from. Dealers have become better at advertising their vehicles and include a range of photos and videos of the vehicles for customers to get a better insight into the vehicle they want to buy online. 
  • Buying a car online also restricts the ability of drivers to negotiate on the price. It can be easier to negotiate with dealers or private sellers when you are physically at a dealership. If you’re buying a car on finance online, the finance you are offered will be based on your personal circumstances and the price of the car, so it can be almost impossible to haggle the price. 

Why are drivers choosing to get a car online? 

With the negatives out of the way, it’s time to look at why 10% of drivers are now choosing to buy their next car completely online. 

  • Buying a car online can streamline the process and save time. Drivers can shop for cars within their budget from the comfort of their own homes and take as much or as little time as they need. The whole process can be completed within a few days, and everything can be done online at a time that suits the buyer. 
  • There’s no pressure from pushy salesmen either, and in many cases, you won’t have to deal with anyone at all. Usually, the price advertised is the price you will get, and it means you can only shop for cars within a budget you can afford. 
  • When you buy a car online, you have hundreds of cars to choose from. You aren’t limited to the cars within your local area and don’t need to waste time and fuel traveling to the dealership. You can shop for cars across the UK to find the one that’s right for you, and many dealers also offer free UK delivery on vehicles too. 

How to find a reputable online seller? 

The emergence of online car dealers and brokers is growing year on year, and it can be hard for drivers to know which company to use. If you’ve seen a car you like, it can be worth taking some time to read reviews from other customers on their experience. You can do this by checking out Google reviews of the dealer or a verified reviews platform such as Reviews.io, Trustpilot, and Auto Trader. When buying a car online, we recommend only buying from a 5* rated dealership or using a reputable car finance broker to help assist with financing your new car

How to check the history of a car? 

Used cars are a great way to save money on your next car purchase, but the negative with used cars is the lack of information about their history. Car dealers will do their own checks before selling a used car, which can work in your favor and help give you added peace of mind about its condition. You can also check the history of a car for yourself by using the DVLA website or by checking its MOT history to get an idea of its history.

What are your rights when buying a car online? 

When you buy a car online, it can be a safe and cost-effective way to get a car, as long as you have done some research first. However, if anything should go wrong or there are any issues with the vehicle you’ve bought, it’s important you know your rights. 

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 protects car buyers when buying from a dealer or online. The car you buy must be:

  • Fit for purpose.
  • As described and matching the online description.
  • Of satisfactory quality

If the car fails to meet any of the above or is faulty or damaged on delivery, you have the right to a full refund within 30 days of the purchase. After 30 days and six months, you could be entitled to a replacement, repair, or partial refund.  

Featured Image by rawpixel.com on Freepik