Three-quarters of Brits won’t buy a car without viewing it in person first, says survey


The number of Brits willing to buy a car they haven’t seen first has fallen since last year, according to new research.

Three-quarters of UK motorists admitted that they wouldn’t ever buy a car without seeing it in person, despite dealers offering more online vehicle buying facilities such as virtual forecourts or video call walkarounds.

An AA survey of more than 17,000 drivers found that a fifth have bought a car unseen – a fall from the 24 per cent who said that they had done last year.

Of those that had decided to purchase a vehicle without viewing it, 62 per cent bought a brand new car from the dealer while 38 per cent purchased a used car unseen from either a dealer, private seller or online auction site.

However, 79 per cent of drivers said that they had never bought a car without viewing it first – and never would in the future. That’s up on the 69 per cent who said the same thing in 2019.

It comes as dealers have commenced a more online-based approach to car buying, with contactless services allowing buyers to see, purchase and take delivery of a new vehicle without having to step into a dealership.

Younger drivers were those who were the least likely to buy a car unseen, with 84 per cent of 18-24-year-olds and 80 per cent of 25-34-year-olds saying that they would never purchase a car without seeing it in the metal first.

Women were also less likely to buy a car without checking it out in person first, with 80 per cent admitting that they would never purchase a car unseen compared with 73 per cent of men.

James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars said: “It has been widely assumed that more drivers would choose to buy a car unseen if they are unable to visit a forecourt in person.

“Yet our data from the lockdown period suggests only a minority of drivers would want to buy a car without viewing it first, and shows people still value the reassurance of seeing a vehicle in person before parting with their money.

“Buyers know they can carry out extensive research online to compare prices and check a car’s history before they choose to buy — but nothing compares to seeing a vehicle up close and getting a feel for it during a test drive.

“With social distancing remaining in place, it is recommended that people continue to carry out their research online first, and compare prices at dealerships before booking an appointment to see the cars they are interested in.”