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Buying a car online: Is it safe and easy?

Due to Covid-19 restrictions over the past 18 months, more people than ever have opted to buy a car online rather than in person.

Online shopping has become increasingly popular in the last decade or so, and pretty much anything you could possibly want to buy is available on the internet.

It's only in the last couple of years, however, that buying a car online has gained traction and that is not only due to the coronavirus pandemic, but more and more new car buying companies are cropping up all over the place.

You can't switch your television on without seeing an advert to buy - or sell - a new or used car from the comfort of your own home.

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It has taken a while to get to this point, though. A lot of people are sceptical about buying a vehicle online and that could be because it is such an expense that if something went wrong or you got stitched up, you could lose out on a lot of money.

But that's why we are here, to put together this easy guide to help you if you ever decide on buying a car online; what to expect, and your rights as a consumer.

Pros of buying online

There are so many different options available online that you will literally be spoiled for choice. Whatever car you want, you will be able to find, and the ability to be able to browse this way will save you an invaluable amount of time.

You also can do all of this from the comfort of your own home, and not having to leave the house is a key reason why many have taken up buying online. It means people can be a lot more spontaneous with their day-to-day life and don't have to plan ahead.

Lastly, and this is probably the most critical point, is that some people just really don't like having face-to-face interaction, particularly if they aren't really sure what they want. Sometimes it can be a little awkward having a dealer hovering around you, pushing you into a deal you're not quite sure about.

Of course, we know dealers do a fantastic job and are often under a lot of pressure to make a sale, but sometimes you just want to have the option to browse in your own time, without feeling like you have to make a decision there and then.

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Online protection from dodgy vendors

Before buying anything online, whether it be a car or item of clothing, you should always do a little bit of research into the company - particularly if they are relatively unknown - to decipher whether they have a good reputation amongst those that have purchased from them before.

The customer is always right, as the old saying goes, so getting feedback from real people that were previously in your situation will help put your mind at ease, particularly as you are shelling out a lot of your hard-earned money.

Many of the bigger car-selling brands will carry out their own checks to ensure everything is set up for you so you don't have to worry or do any of the heavy lifting.

Test driving and returns

Most online car retailers will offer you a 'cooling off' period of around 7-14 days where you are able to return the car with no questions asked.

This is an opportunity for you to take the car out yourself, work out if it's right for you and if you generally enjoy driving it.

It's certainly worth checking the terms and conditions before buying though, just to ensure that you know exactly what you are getting into once the purchase is complete.

They should also give you a 14-day money-back guarantee on the car. This is a legality and allows you to get a full refund if you are unhappy for whatever reason.

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