Remote car buying: What are my options? | AA Cars

The coronavirus situation has made many of us more careful about taking unnecessary trips to public places.

While lockdown restrictions are starting to lift, and car showrooms are now open again, many might feel cautious about visiting straight away.

Dealers are taking the necessary steps and precautions – many altering their showrooms to ensure social distancing can be maintained – but you might still prefer to stay at home.

However, if you don’t feel ready to visit a dealership just yet, it doesn’t mean you can’t buy a car. Here’s how you can buy a car remotely, and the features available to you at home. 

Ask for video tours of the car

Before buying a car, many of us would usually visit a showroom and have a nosey around the car we’re interested in.

But if you don’t want to visit a showroom yet, there are still plenty of options. Sales staff will be more than happy to help in any way they can, with many firms embracing video as a way of communication. 

You can ask them to do a ‘live’ video for you – using something like Zoom or FaceTime – for them to show you around the car. It’s also a great chance for them to explain a particular feature to you.  

What about test drives?

The test drive is often the decider when it comes to a new car, as you don’t want to end up with a vehicle you don’t like driving.

So if you’re not wanting to visit a showroom, can you still test drive a car? While this will vary depending on dealership, if you live locally to a showroom and are interested in buying, they may be able to offer a test drive at home by dropping it off to you. 

The DVLA has also confirmed that test drives can be unaccompanied, though dealers must have official trade plates and have the correct insurance in place to allow this. 

How do I actually buy the car remotely? 

If you’re satisfied that the car is right for you (whether you’ve been able to have a test drive or not), the next step is to buy the car.

Some manufacturers already allow you to buy a new or used car online – Mercedes, for example. Other larger dealers have introduced this functionality to their websites to entice buyers in during the current situation. But for many, the easiest way to make payment will be to speak to the dealership itself – either by bank transfer or setting up a finance agreement.  

If you haven’t been able to arrange a test drive, but still want the car anyway, you could buy it unseen. There are numerous steps you should take to buy with confidence.

How do I sort the paperwork?

During the coronavirus crisis, many dealers have started to use online paperwork to make sure cars can still be sold safely without close contact. 

It’s something a lot of dealers are continuing with, and providing they have the right systems in place, you’ll be able to fill in all your car’s paperwork digitally – including signatures. 

What about home delivery?

Having your new car delivered is the final piece of the puzzle to buying it entirely remotely. And for more than six weeks during the coronavirus lockdown, having your car delivered to your home was the only real way you could buy a new car. 

If you live locally to the dealership where you’re buying from, the dealer might deliver it to your house for free. If you live further away, you might have to pay to have it delivered either by the dealer, or a third-party company. 

Many dealers and delivery companies are taking necessary precautions – including wearing PPE and sanitising the car at the time of delivery. If you’re worried about this aspect, speak to the dealer to check what measures are being taken. 

Once the car has been delivered to you, it’s worth leaving the car alone for around 24 hours before getting inside. While this isn’t essential, it’s worth doing as an extra precaution if you’re worried about the risk of virus transmission.


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