Buying online

Surf, point, click. There, you’ve just bought yourself a car. No really you have. It makes such a refreshing change from the bad old days when shopping for a car was such an effort trekking around the country and wasting your valuable time. Now you can find what you want, sometimes for less, on the World Wide Web.

Manufacturer sites

They all have them these days, (type the manufacturer plus., or .com), with the main intention of steering you in the direction of your local dealer. However with some car manufacturer sites you can actually buy a car online at a lower price. Choose the car, preview the colour and have nothing to do with a salesman until they have to value your old car, or talk finance.

Car brokers

Potentially this can give you the best of all worlds, low prices, no haggling and the reassurance of dealing with a UK franchised dealer. Can you trust a broker? Some have been around for decades, others since last week. A good sign is that the broker does not want any money upfront and indeed wants you to pay the dealer direct. Also ask where the car is coming from – for peace of mind you should always buy cars registered in the UK. Don’t pay in full because you could lose the lot if the broker goes bankrupt. Just because the company is called a broker it does not mean it is the best or lowest price. It must be below the quoted list price and when in doubt telephone a dealer and ask if they will sell a car at the broker’s price.

Car dealers

Few let you buy online, dealer sites are basically a virtual showroom. If they do have ‘Buy Now’ buttons, ensure you read their terms and conditions before clicking them. By all means leave a deposit subject to seeing the car, but as with all online car-selling sites you must take the time and effort to actually go and look at the car you think you want to buy. Print any contractual terms. And remember that shopping for a car on an UK site means that you will have the same rights as any high street consumer.


Every minute eBay sells a car. That’s the proof if you need it that buying a used car has never been easier, or more fun and in some cases that can be the problem. So:

  • Try to bid on a car in your area that ideally you can test drive
  • It’s a good thing if there is a long, detailed description, listing good and bad points, and lots of photographs, which suggests you are dealing with a conscientious and hopefully honest seller
  • Avoid short adverts with few details, or ads with small and fuzzy pictures. You really can’t tell the condition of a car from a thumbnail-sized picture
  • Don’t get carried away – you should always check out prices for similar vehicles in other adverts to make sure you’re not bidding too much
  • Remember that in the UK at least, if the vehicle doesn’t match the description, then the seller has misrepresented it, and you don’t have to buy it if you win the auction. However, if you do win, and the advert is accurate, you’re legally obliged to complete the transaction
  • Never pay in full until you’ve seen the car

Once you know what car you want, get an online car insurance quote from Churchill today.