Buying a car can be a big deal – so the idea of paying a large sum of money for a car before you’ve even seen it can seem unnerving.
It’s always best to view a car in person, but, depending on your circumstances, that’s not always possible. And these days, you’re able to buy a car unseen instead.
But how can you do this confidently? Here we look at what you need to do if you want to buy a car without viewing it.
Do plenty of research
Research is key when looking to buy a new car, and you should do as much as possible.
Read reviews, from experts and owners, and watch videos about the make and model you’re interested in.
Read plenty of adverts, too. Narrow down your choice by comparing price and condition. Look out for any key information that’s missing, as this will help you identify questions you’ll need to ask the seller or dealer before buying.
Speak to someone on the phone
When buying a car unseen, you should always try and speak to someone over the phone from the dealer. That’s because chatting about the car over email or social media doesn’t always offer you the full picture.
By speaking in person, you can easily ask all the right questions. Make sure you always ask about the condition, and the service and maintenance record.
And always remember, if something doesn’t sound right, that’s probably because it isn’t. There’s no harm in walking away from a car and a deal if it doesn’t quite stack up or sit well with you.
Ask for as many pictures as possible
Plenty of dealers are now very good at taking detailed pictures of the cars they have for sale – and some add videos of their cars, too.
Not all are quite so thorough, though, so you should ask for as many pictures as possible. Look through these closely and carefully to get the best idea on a vehicle’s condition. And if a dealer leaves a certain angle out of a picture, ask to see this. It could be nothing, but there’s a chance they’ve left this out on purpose to avoid showing any damage.
A detailed video can show you even more about the car’s condition. Video calling (e.g FaceTime or similar) can also be especially useful, and more so if you want a dealer to explain a certain feature on a car to you.
Check a vehicle’s history
Detailed service and maintenance history can be vital when buying a car, to show that it’s been cared for previously.
But there could be lots of other things in the car’s history that you’d need to be aware of. A detailed vehicle check can help you find out more.
Our history check gives you a comprehensive view of a car. It shows things that might not otherwise come to light – including if it was stolen, any mileage discrepancies, or if it’s been written off. It’ll also show any outstanding finance – which can be a big problem as it could leave you out of pocket if you accidentally buy a car that still has money owed on it.
You can also check a car’s MOT history Along with showing any mileage discrepancies, it’s a good indicator as to how a car has been looked after. If a car has failed recent MOTs and has lots of advisories, it could prove troublesome. A car with a clean MOT history is far more likely to have been well maintained.
Check a dealer’s reviews
It’s important to also do your checks on a dealership, too, especially if you’ve never dealt with them before.
An easy way to do this is to check their website to make sure that it’s a registered firm. You can also look at Google or Facebook reviews from customers. If feedback is universally positive, it should provide extra peace of mind.
Consider paying a ‘reservation fee’
This is something that many larger dealer groups already offer – you pay a fee (usually around £100) for them to hold onto the car for you until you can collect it in person.
It’s not something every dealer offers, but if you’re set on buying a car without looking at it, but still want to go and buy it in person (rather than have it delivered), it’s a good option.
Get a vehicle inspection
The safest way to get a true, fully rounded picture of the car’s condition is to have it independently inspected.
Having a qualified engineer view the car on your behalf could save you time – and also save you plenty of money, if the inspection exposes a fault you wouldn’t have otherwise known about.
Our vehicle inspections start from £142 for a standard inspection, which covers up to 155 checks on a car that’s up to 10 years old, and includes a full photographic report. A more detailed viewing is available for £191, which offers up to 206 checks, and allows for vehicles of all ages.
A vehicle inspection can be the final piece of the puzzle. It’ll help confirm whether it’s the right car for you, or whether it’s a a costly car in poor condition that needs work doing.