A Guide to Buying A Used Car Online

Two people searching online for their next used car

Online shopping has boomed in the last couple of decades, and car buying is no exception to the rule. Not only is buying a car online incredibly convenient, but you'll be able to search thousands of different makes and models, all from the comfort of your own home.

But what if you want to buy a used car? What are the differences with the sales process compared to purchasing a brand-new vehicle online, and are there any risks you’ll need to be aware of?

In this short guide, you’ll learn everything you need to know so you can search and buy your next used car online with total peace of mind.

Is buying a used car online safe?

More than likely, the very first concern you’ll have when buying a used car online is whether it’s safe.

It can be easy to focus on the negative stories you may hear about when browsing the web, but there is a perfectly safe way of purchasing a preowned vehicle online. Here are a few things to bear in mind:

Be aware of the dangers

While there are tonnes of great deals online, and many people have successfully purchased a used car online, there will always be situations where people can take advantage.

Only buy from an approved and reputable seller and be aware of online phishing. Anyone can put an ad out online, so do the proper due diligence to ensure the vehicle exists, and the registration number is valid. Sometimes, when the offer sounds too good to be true, it is!

If the worst happens and you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, the very first thing to do will be to report the issue to Action Fraud and contact your bank or building society to freeze your account temporarily.

Know your rights

Vehicles, new and used, bought through a dealership via ‘Click and Collect’ and ‘Click and Deliver’ fall under the Consumer Rights Act 2015. Buyers have a 14-day money-back guarantee to return the car if they decide they have changed their minds. This forms part of ‘distance selling regulations’.

There isn’t the same protection when buying from a private seller. However, the car must still meet the description of the advert and be road-worthy. Otherwise, the buyer may claim a refund under the Misrepresentation Act. The seller must also have the legal right to sell it.

It’s important to remember that when buying a used car privately, the buyer is responsible for ensuring that the vehicle is fit for purpose.

Do your research

As you would with any sizable purchase, it is crucial to do the necessary research into the product you are buying and check whether it matches the ad’s description.

If you are buying a used car from a local dealer, you’re given the freedom to inspect and test drive the car for yourself before parting with any cash. Where you cannot inspect the car, many dealerships and online dealers will provide you with comprehensive images of the vehicle along with videos and walk-arounds. Plus, you are protected by the distance selling regulations should a vehicle not live up to its description.

Be wise about payment

There are several ways to pay for a used car online, and there are different ways to ensure it’s safe, depending on who you are purchasing from.

When buying from a private seller, you should never hand over cash without seeing the vehicle beforehand. Reputable dealers and garages will always represent the car’s history, mileage, and condition in the advertisement correctly. However, if you’re unfortunate to come across a dodgy seller, it is comforting to know you haven’t parted with your money if the product doesn’t match the expectation.

Buying a used car from a dealer is much lower risk, and most will offer finance packages, allowing you to spread the cost across two to five years, dependent on the type of car finance you go for. 

Arranging tax and insurance for a used car

Once you’ve placed an order or made a successful bid for a used car, you need to consider the best insurance policy for the vehicle. You can browse prices on comparison websites while you wait for delivery or pick up the car and then arrange for the insurance to start on the day it arrives.

Since you’re buying a used car, you may be conscious of any rising costs. If this is the case, there are certain modifications you can make to your insurance to lower the price. These include:

  • Have a black box fitted to monitor and carefully set premiums based on your driving habits.
  • Pay all of the policy off in one go rather than monthly or weekly.
  • Ensure the car is parked on a private driveway or garage rather than at the roadside.
  • Put the car on a multi-car insurance policy.
  • Improve your credit rating.
  • Remove any unnecessary extras you may not need.

A used car will more often than not be cheaper to insure than a brand-new model, but you need to consider that the age of used cars can make them more likely to break down and need maintenance. Repairs could hike up the overall cost significantly, which is why research and inspection are so vital.

You won’t be able to tax the vehicle until it is in your possession as you will need the official licensing documents. But don’t worry, this is a quick process that can be done over the phone or online, meaning you’ll be out on the road in no time.

Is it a good idea to finance a used car?

A used car financing deal can be a superb choice if you are money conscious or wish to spread the costs over months or years. The exact length of time it will take to pay off the car fully will vary depending on your agreement with the dealer or seller, so there is room for flexibility.

The two most popular ways of financing a car are Hire Purchase (HP) and Personal Contract Purchase (PCP).

With HP agreements, the cost of the car plus interest is spread across a set period of time. Once you’ve paid in full, the car then becomes your property. PCP agreements differ slightly, with lower payments across the term but with a deferred ‘optional final payment’ (sometimes called ‘balloon payment’) at the end in order to own the car. We cover more about these two car finance options on a separate article.

To secure a finance agreement, buyers need to pass a credit score check, as well as provide proof of identification and any other requested car finance paperwork. You can also opt to pay a deposit up front, but this is not a requirement. To ensure you’re in the best position to get accepted, you’ll need an active credit history to show you can manage money responsibly such as an owning active credit card, having a mobile phone contract or being on the electoral roll.

Getting finance deals on private sales, such as auctions or online bidding sites, is much rarer and complex. Cash, a personal loan or paying with a credit card tend to be the more favoured choices.

Do you need further help with buying a used car online?

As long as you avoid the pitfalls and do the critical research, buying a used car online could be one of the best things you’ll ever do and could save you thousands of pounds compared to buying brand new. There are plenty of reliable dealers and sellers out there that make purchasing a stress-free breeze.

However, you might still want that extra hand understanding all the specifics of finding a safe dealer and calculating the finance rate payments. That’s where My Car Credit can step in.

Simply give us a call on 01246 458 810 or drop us an email at enquiries@mycarcredit.co.uk – one of our friendly specialists will be in touch shortly.

For additional information, you can also explore our the hundreds of helpful blogs and articles we have created to support you in your car buying journey.

Rates from 6.9% APR. Representative APR 13.9%

Evolution Funding Ltd T/A My Car Credit

My Credit Rating

Excellent

  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed

Good

  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs

Fair

  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit

Poor

  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past

Bad

  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan
£

X monthly repayments of
£X

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable

X% APR*

£X

£X

*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 13.9%, annual interest rate (fixed) 13.85%, 47 monthly payments of £201.38 followed by 1 payment of £211.38 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £2,176.24, total amount payable is £9,676.24.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!

Who Are Cinch Cars and Should I Buy a Car from Them?

Blue car on customers drive delivered by Cinch

Over the years, used cars salesmen have developed something of a reputation. It’s for that reason that many people dread visiting a dealership and haggling over the price of a second-hand vehicle, especially if they don’t have a strong knowledge of what goes on under the bonnet.

But what if you could view thousands of cars online, all with complete service records and all priced at reasonable rates? What if you could browse pictures of the vehicles (inside and out), ask questions on their performance histories and finalise the deal, all with a few clicks of the mouse? What if you could receive the car direct to your door, meaning you never have to leave the house once throughout the entire process?

Step forward Cinch Cars. With the ability to review thousands of top-quality used cars and complete the transaction all in one place online, it’s a one-stop shop for your next set of wheels.

Who are Cinch Cars?

Cinch Cars was founded with the objective of taking a stressful process and simplifying it as much as possible. After all, why should buying a car be any more problematic than any other online purchase?

Based upon that business model, Cinch Cars put their customers at the forefront of every aspect of their operations. They stock thousands of cars from all over the UK, all of which are less than seven years old and have fewer than 70,000 miles on the clock. Customers can even use their old car as a makeweight in a part-exchange deal.

As well as providing an extensive online catalogue of high-quality used vehicles, Cinch Cars also offer a handy tool which can narrow down the overwhelming array of options based upon your personal preferences and circumstances. Then, when you’ve settled upon the car of your dreams, it’s time to turn it into a reality with just a few clicks of the mouse.

How does it work?

First of all, you should take the time to look through the thousands of vehicles available online at Cinch Cars. Each car comes with its own personal profile, including photos of the vehicle inside and out, as well as a full history of its owners and service records. After comparing and contrasting the vehicles in the Cinch catalogue, you should be well equipped to make a decision on your next car.

Once you’ve found the one for you, all of the relevant paperwork can be completed online. After finalising the transaction and transferring the funds, you’ll be asked to choose a date and a time for the car to be delivered to your doorstep. Alternatively, you can pick out a make and model from an approved dealership near you, making things as easy and as flexible as possible.

Prior to the delivery date, it’s a good idea to get the car insured and taxed. Cinch Cars offer a three-day driveaway insurance policy through their partners Tempcover to get you behind the wheel as soon as possible. However, it’s a good idea to make your own arrangements on a longer-term basis, as well. Then once the handover is complete, you’re in the driving seat!

Why should I buy a car from Cinch Cars?

Cinch Cars have transformed the process of buying a used car from an arduous one into a doddle. But aside from the convenience and efficiency they offer, there are a whole host of other reasons why you should buy from them, including the following:

  • Extensive online catalogue. Cinch Cars stock a huge range of cars in all shapes and sizes. Whether it’s a coupe, a convertible, a hatchback, an estate or an SUV you’re after, you’re sure to find something that tickles your fancy online.
  • Quality guaranteed. All of the vehicles listed on the Cinch Cars site have been rigorously tested via a 225-point inspection, ensuring everything is in perfect working order for when it arrives at your door.
  • The Cinch commitment. As Cinch pride themselves on only stocking the finest makes and models from the used car market, they never sell any vehicle that is over seven years old or has more than 70,000 miles on the clock.
  • No charge for delivery. After signing on the (virtual) dotted line, you can select a two-hour slot on a day that is convenient for you for the car to be delivered to your doorstep. What could be easier?
  • Faff-free returns policy. What happens if you get behind the wheel of your new car, but something just doesn’t feel quite right? No problem. Cinch Cars operate a 14-day, faff-free returns policy, entitling you to a full refund if you’re not completely happy with your purchase.

How can My Car Credit help?

With the logistics of locating and buying your dream car taken care of, all that’s left to worry about is how to finance the purchase. After all, such a deal is not a small sum and not many people would be able to come up with the funds necessary to complete the transaction in one fell swoop.

If you’re left asking “Can I afford to buy a car?” – My Car Credit can help. We scour the lending market to find the best deal for you, then handle all of the tiresome paperwork involved as well. We can access the best deals available from our large panel of lenders. This means we can find the right arrangement for your circumstances, even if you’re self-employed or have a poor credit history! Either way, we’ll give you a decision on car financing within a matter of minutes.

Also, if you’re looking for reputable car dealers to buy your next wheels from, we have our own stock list of quality used vehicles. All of our dealers have been vetted for your peace of mind. Simply put in your postcode and the distance you’re willing to travel and we’ll pull up all vehicles within your parameters.

Last but certainly not least, we pride ourselves on providing exemplary customer service to each and every one of our clients. That’s why we assign a specialist personal advisor to every case, ensuring there will always be someone in your corner when you need them most. Want to learn more about how we can help? Feel free to drop us a line at 01246 458 810 or send an email to enquiries@mycarcredit.co.uk. Don’t delay – get in contact with our friendly team today!

Rates from 6.9% APR. Representative APR 13.9%

Evolution Funding Ltd T/A My Car Credit

My Credit Rating

Excellent

  • You are a home owner
  • You have been on the electoral role for a long period of time
  • You have current credit arrangements and mortgage with no defaults
  • You have no CCJs, credit arrears or missed payments
  • You rarely apply for credit
  • You are employed or self-employed

Good

  • You are on the electoral role
  • You are a home owner or long standing tenant
  • You have a stable employment history
  • You have current credit arrangements with occasional missed payments
  • You have no CCJs

Fair

  • You are or have recently been on the electoral role
  • You may have recently changed address
  • You may have occasional missed payments
  • You may have an old CCJ
  • You may have regularly applied for credit

Poor

  • You may have had frequent changes in address
  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • You may have exceeded credit card limits
  • You may have missed payments on current agreements
  • You may have had a CCJ in the past

Bad

  • You may not be traceable on the voters roll
  • Your credit cards are over their limits
  • You have recent CCJs
  • You may have been refused credit elsewhere
  • You may be in a debt management plan
£

X monthly repayments of
£X

Typical rate

Loan amount

Total payable

X% APR*

£X

£X

*for illustration purposes only

No impact on your credit score

Representative Example

Borrowing £7,500 at a representative APR of 13.9%, annual interest rate (fixed) 13.85%, 47 monthly payments of £201.38 followed by 1 payment of £211.38 (incl. estimated £10 option to purchase fee), a deposit of £0.00, total cost of credit is £2,176.24, total amount payable is £9,676.24.

Evolution Funding Limited, trading as My Car Credit, is a credit broker and not a lender.

Please ensure you can afford the repayments for the duration of the loan before entering into a credit agreement.

Require more help?

Got a question you can’t find the answer to, or need some advice and guidance around taking out car finance? Our Car Credit Specialists are friendly, experienced, and here to help so get in touch today!