What Are the Risks of Buying a Car Online?

Everything happens online these days. Like, everything. From ordering your food to handling all of your finances, we can use the web to go about our day-to-day lives. This also includes buying a car, and there are several ways to purchase a new motor on the ol' web, from a full online experience to a combination of both digital and physical approaches. 

But are there any risks if you buy a car online? After all, it’s a significant purchase potentially costing you thousands and thousands of pounds. You don’t want to jump into anything without doing your due diligence first. Otherwise, you could end up with a nasty surprise, such as an old banger. 

If you’re intrigued by purchasing a car online, but it’s your first time, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’re looking at the risks of buying a car on the internet so you can feel more confident purchasing your motor on the world wide web. 

Are there any risks involved with buying a car online?

Like anything, there are always some risks associated if you don’t take the correct measures. But as far as the risk goes, buying a car online is pretty low and relatively risk-free. If you’re buying from an online dealership or manufacturer, then you can expect a safe and secure service. 

It’s also possible to buy from a private seller online without experiencing any hiccups. However, you should take a few more precautions when buying privately, and we recommend going to see the car physically before completing the transaction. 

HPI checks, service history and mileage, are all important things to check before buying a car. Seeing what sort of inspections the car has been through is super helpful for avoiding potential issues, too, as it will give you an accurate reflection of the type of vehicle you’re buying. 

Even more protections in place for online buyers

There is actually more protection in place when you buy your car online. Vehicles and other goods bought at retailers fall under the Consumer Rights Act, while you’re protected from purchasing goods online by the Consumer Contracts Regulations. 

This includes legislation such as a 14-day cooling-off period where the buyer can decide whether or not they want to keep the goods (including a car). Within 14 days, you can hand back the product with no questions asked and complete peace of mind. This is similar to the cooling off period you get with car finance, where you've got 14 days to cancel the finance if you decide you don't actually want to pay on finance anymore. Once it is delivered you may test drive it, but don't exceed the agreed mileage you are allowed to do before you return it - this will be stated in your contract so check that out in advance. 

How to buy a car online

The full online experience

You can buy a car entirely online, assuming you don’t want to test drive it first – though research shows only one in six people decide to go for a test drive. With 87% of car buyers saying they would consider purchasing their next vehicle online, it’s no surprise to see more options coming to the market. 

Online car sellers

Brands like Cazoo and Cinch offer full online experiences when it comes to getting your next set of wheels. And not only are they safe, risk-free options; they’ve got the reviews to back it up. So when it comes to the risk factor for buying a car online with larger brands, you can rest assured that the process is smooth and safe. 

The hybrid approach

The most common way to buy a car online, the hybrid approach includes using an online car website like Autotrader or WeBuyAnyCar and picking the vehicle up in person. You can expect the same approach to private sales through websites like Gumtree and Autotrader, which advertises cars from private sellers and car dealerships. 

Get your car finance online too

Along with buying a car online, you can also get your car finance on the web. That means it’s possible to experience the entire car-buying experience, from borrowing finance to securing your deal, without even getting up off your sofa. 

Safe car buying online

Buying a car online is risk-free, as long as you carry out the correct checks. Buying online also removes much of the hassle, as some dealerships even deliver straight to your door. Enjoy the entire experience online and get a car you love from the comfort of your own home.