How to buy a car during lockdown

Over the past year, all areas of commerce have had to adapt to a changing marketplace. However, while many businesses that could operate online already were, online car buying has been fairly slow moving.

That’s because cars are expensive, the second-biggest purchase someone will make after their house in fact, so people tend to want to experience it first-hand before taking the plunge.

However, with dealers closed during lockdowns but allowed to sell through home delivery or click and collect, online-only car sales have been booming.

If you’re considering buying a car online, here’s how it works.

Find your car

There are dozens of ways to do this, whether through general classified sites such as Auto Trader or going directly to local dealers’ websites. There are a few digital-only sites too, such as Carzam, Cinch and Cazoo, which are looking to disrupt the traditional dealer model by dealing exclusively online.

Organise payment

This part will differ depending on where you buy your car, but the general process follows a similar pattern. With the digital-only sites, you can usually pay the full purchase price and organise finance there and then at the click of a few buttons.

Some dealers and manufacturers will take a deposit this way, then organise full payment through a phone call.

Coronavirus – Mon June 1, 2020
Coronavirus – Mon June 1, 2020

Choose your delivery method

Now you’ve selected your vehicle, it’s time to decide how you get your vehicle. Even during national lockdowns, you should be able to choose between click and collect or home delivery services.

If you choose click and collect, you’ll organise a time slot with the selling company to collect your vehicle. It will likely be placed in a spacious area where social distancing is easy to comply with and the timings will ensure you don’t deal with any other customers. The car will also have been sanitised. You then simply drive away once everything is confirmed!

If you choose home delivery it’ll likely cost a bit more but will mean you don’t need to take a trip out of the house to collect it, making it ideal for vulnerable people. The car will be dropped off to your home and the delivery driver will probably check over the car with you and sign it over.

Enjoy your new car

Once you’ve collected the car or had it delivered, you can then enjoy your new vehicle. However, if you’re not happy with it, whether that be because it doesn’t suit your needs, you don’t enjoy driving it or it’s not up to the quality you expected, you do have options.

Key handover
Key handover

Companies should have their own returns policies, so check those before you buy. However, the law is on your side, too. If you pay a deposit or the full cost without having seen the vehicle, it’s classed as a distance sale, which means you have 14 days to return it.

However, if you did not pay anything up front and instead reserved the car to pay once you’d looked at it, this law does not cover the sale and then it’s down to the seller’s rules.

As you can see, buying a car online is no more difficult than getting your grocery shopping delivered. However, with such large sums it’s definitely worth checking what returns policies apply before entering into a contract.