We’ve put together our ultimate guide to buying your next vehicle online whether it’s through one of the new online delivery car sellers or from a private seller advertising on eBay. We’ll help you make sure you purchase your next car safely so that you’ll be cruising around very soon with a smile on your face.
‘Too good to be true’ is a saying you should be remembering when buying a second-hand vehicle. If criminals are in play or someone simply wants to rid themselves of a ‘lemon’, then car sale adverts will likely tempt you with a bargain price, making a vehicle extremely appealing.
You should never buy a vehicle before viewing it first. If a seller offers apologetic reasons as to why you can’t view the car, then be very guarded. Excuses such as the vehicle’s in another location, the seller is being deployed overseas or is going through a divorce, or there’s a death in the family should all be taken with caution. Ultimately, there is no reason why you should hand over any monies without seeing the vehicle first.
Genuine sellers are motivated to sell and will always accommodate a potential buyer who wants to see the car. If the seller genuinely can’t show the vehicle themselves, they will find a family member or friend to show it on their behalf.
Legitimate sellers will make every effort to accommodate the potential buyer, so don’t be afraid to ask to test drive the vehicle. After all, the car may look great, but the engine may be on its last legs. If the seller makes excuses that you can’t take it for a test drive, then simply walk away.
Don’t be shy at checking the VIN, engine number and chassis number matches the V5C document. These pieces of information will appear at various places on the vehicle, so make sure everything adds up before you part with your cash. If a few minor details don’t match, then it may simply be an error that the seller can clarify. If you’re suspicious and believe the seller gave you false details, then walk away.
You can use our Free Car Check tool to get information on a vehicle such as:
You can also check the MOT History of car to check for any gaps and to ensure the mileage is genuine. Vehicles over three years require an MOT, however, a car may not need one if it was unused or registered as SORN. The seller should be able to explain any gaps, but if you’re at all suspicious, walk away.
You can run a history check on a vehicle using a Motorscan Car Check which will instantly tell you if the vehicle is recorded as stolen, scrapped, written-off, or subject to outstanding finance.
Don’t feel embarrassed to have a good look at the condition of the vehicle. You’ll likely be handing over a sizeable amount of money so don’t be rushed into making a decision. Take your time:
Whilst you don’t want to be overpaying for a vehicle, you also don’t want to end up buying an old banger because it was a bargain. Always know what a car is worth so you can be confident you’re getting what you pay for. You can get a free valuation at Auto Trader’s car valuation service.
You’ll likely be familiar with buying sites such as eBay and Autotrader where you can find your next second-hand car, but what about the new boys on the block advertising on TV that will deliver your new vehicle straight to your door? Companies like Cinch and Cazoo are offering hassle-free car purchase from the comfort of your sofa.
They boast competitively high-quality cars for sale, offering between 7 and 14 days no quibble returns so effectively you do get to inspect and try the vehicle out for a minimum of a week. It all sounds great, but the same advice still applies.
Don’t merely trust that you’re getting value for money. Check the prices advertised are competitive before making any decisions. Some people may be happy to pay a bit extra for the luxury of not having to leave the house, but you should still know the real value of a car before you part with your money.