Buying a used car has never been this easy. Almost every car dealer has an online presence, so you can browse vehicles all over the country. But, despite the ease of search, you might still be a bit hesitant about buying a car online.

The good news is that there’s no need to be wary of buying a car online. There are so many consumer protections in place that it’s just as safe as buying a car in person at a dealership. Just to help give you peace of mind, we’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts when buying a used car online.

Do decide on what car you want

Before you start looking for a used car online, you need to decide on what car you want. You don’t have to know the exact make and model, but it’s a good idea to write down all the requirements you need from the car to help direct your search. Do you need it big enough to fit in a family? Does it need to have space in the boot for a large dog?

Working out your requirements helps narrow down your search a bit. There is so much choice available online, it’s easy to get a bit lost amongst the sheer quantity. Having a bit of direction helps cut through that.


Do shop around

When buying a car online, you want to have access to as many different dealerships as possible, especially if you have a very specific make and model online. So make sure you use a vehicle search that has thousands of vehicles as dealers across the entire UK.

What you can do is create a shortlist of cars you like, so if you do find one you love, you can keep track of it while doing your full search. Otherwise you might end up buying the first car you find and miss out on a better model or price.

Do look at reviews

Reviews are vital when you shop online. Not just about the car but the dealership too.

Car reviews help you work out if a make and model could be suitable, very important when you buy online and you don’t get a conventional test drive like you would if you were to go to a dealership in person. Look at reviews from industry and consumer experts and also from members of the public who have purchased the car. They will provide an honest assessment of the vehicle and may flag potential pros and cons that you had not considered in advance.

Being able to see what other customers think about the service they received from the dealership. Don’t just look at the overly positive or overly negative reviews, as these tend to provide less of a fair reflection of the service provided. You can also work with an online service, such as Creditplus, who will help find the car for you through a network of trusted dealers.


Don’t buy a car without a vehicle check

Once you’ve found the right car, it’s time to check the details. A comprehensive service history is always the ideal, so you can see if the car has a) been looked after, and b) if there are any regular repairs or issues that suggest something is wrong with the car.

But not everyone keeps a detailed record of all the work they have carried out, and some people may even have made repairs to the vehicle themselves. So what can you do? A vehicle check is a good way to ensure that the car is as it says it is and hasn’t had any major issues. By major issues, we mean if the car has ever been written off in the past.

It will also reveal if there are any outstanding finance payments on the car that could become your responsibility, and let you know if the mileage is accurate by revealing the recordings at previous MOT tests.

Don’t be afraid to get in touch

If you have a question about the car you’ve found, don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and speak to someone. The dealer will be more than happy to answer any questions you have about the car, and might even be able to conduct a walkaround where they speak to you on the phone as they look at the car. It’s a good way to ask about any specific areas of concern, especially if you think you might have spotted a dent or scratch in the photos online.


Do compare finance packages

You might not realise that you can use a car finance package to buy a used car. But the options you have available are a lot wider than you might think. By using a broker like Creditplus, you’ll be able to compare car finance packages from a wide panel of lenders. So you’ll be able to choose either the cheapest deal available, or one that has the perks and benefits that you prefer.

Don’t be afraid to return the car

When you buy a car online, you have a certain amount of time to return the vehicle to the dealer once you get your hands on it. This can vary from seven to fourteen days, but the rules are that you can return it without any questions before this period expires. This is a part of the distance selling act and is designed to ensure you are satisfied with the product you have purchased.

So once you have possession of the car, give it a good test drive and find out if it is the right car for you. If it isn’t, then you shouldn’t feel any shame about returning the car. Just contact your dealer or customer advisor and explain the situation. They may have a few questions, just to see the reasons why, but they will be able to help you return the car for a full refund.

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