Buying a car without a test drive

With BuyaCar you can purchase your next car from your sofa. That means no traipsing around dealers or crossing the country for a test drive

John Evans
Oct 28, 2021

The option to buy a car online has been around for a while, but never has it been so popular as it is right now, especially after the global pandemic forced us all to change our consumer habits. Gone are the days when you'd need to traipse around the country - spending money on fuel or public transport and sacrificing your weekends or evenings in order to find and inspect a car you liked the look of. All you need to do now is switch on your favoured Internet browsing device and let BuyaCar do all the hard work for you.

But there is one thing you can't do if you're purchasing a used car online, and that's take it for a test drive. While a general test drive of a particular model you're looking at can be quite useful if you need to know whether you fit inside, or if it's going to be fast enough for your liking. But, if you've already answered those questions and you're ready to make purchase, driving a specific car before you buy it is no longer as necessary as you might have thought.

How can this be? Well, BuyaCar ensures that all cars meet a number of standards - including maximum mileage and age limits, so you can be confident that the car is in good condition and is exactly as described in the advert. And just in case there are any issues, we offer a 14-day money back guarantee for added comfort if you change your mind about a purchase.

By buying a car online, all of the hard work is taken away, meaning you can spend more quality time with your family, and enjoy your weekend without having to worry about where your next car is coming from. Buying a car online is not as risky as you might think, either, because there are robust laws in place to protect people who buy online.

Buying a car online makes test drives unnecessary

An online retailer’s duty to provide accurate and clear descriptions of the cars it sells (and a customer’s rights under the distance selling regulations) should help you feel more confident about buying a car this way.

The descriptions provided should not only include the car’s basic details (make, model, year of registration, mileage, colour and specification) but give you an indication of the vehicle’s condition, so you know what to expect when it arrives at your home.

Even if you were to buy a car from a physical showroom, this isn't always a given, with many dealers leaving you to hunt for any dents, tears or other marks yourself and potentially even parking the car carefully to hide any problem areas.

In addition to these descriptions, a good online seller will also ensure the car has had mileage, history and outstanding finance checks carried out, so you can be sure that the car's displayed mileage is accurate, it hasn't been crashed in the past and there is no money still owed on it.

Again, you can’t always be sure some or all of these checks will have been carried out by a traditional dealer. Combined, these checks and guarantees add up to total peace of mind when buying online and make going on a lengthy test drive unnecessary.

Is buying a car online secure?

There are many online car sellers and competition between them is intense. That’s good news for you because competition encourages high standards of service and a good supply of quality cars.

However, while the service that individual online sellers provide might differ in detail, here are the key things you can expect from the best and which combine to make a test drive unnecessary.

Quality suppliers

Just as you rely on the online seller to supply you with a car you can confidently buy without test driving, the online seller relies on reputable dealers to supply them with exactly that type of car.

To ensure this, BuyaCar only deals with reputable dealers that sell quality cars. This can be quite hard work, but it's one less thing you have to worry about.

14-day returns guarantee

A 14-day refund guarantee starting from the day you receive the car allows you to satisfy yourself that the vehicle is as described and suitable for you. Naturally, to safeguard the value of the car, you won’t be able to drive it far without incurring a small charge - this option is to make sure there are no unexpected issues with the car - and it must be returned in the condition it was delivered in.

If you need to reject the car because it is faulty or doesn’t match the description, however, there won’t be a collection charge. Bear in mind that you may have to pay one if you are returning the car simply because you've suddenly decided that you don't like the colour, though.

Quality warranty (should the car’s new-car warranty have expired)

The provision of a comprehensive warranty for up to 30 days will ensure the car is covered for any unexpected faults. Of course, on top of this you have rights under consumer law to reject a faulty car. This provides peace of mind when buying a car online.

How do I choose a car without a test drive?

In the past taking a test drive may have helped you to decide that a certain car wasn't for you. However, make the most of online resources such as buyers' guides and roundups of the best cars for certain tasks and you should get a good feel of which models suit you. Have a read of expert buyers' guides and you should be able to easily narrow down the cars that suit your needs with quick summaries of models' strengths and weaknesses guiding you through your various options.

Take time to consider what you’re looking for from your next car and what sort of demands you’re likely to place on it. For example, is much of your driving city-based or do you do the occasional long-distance drive to see relatives? Would you be comfortable with a traditional hatchback or, for the same money, would you prefer the higher driving position and greater practicality of an SUV? Could you be tempted by one of the new generation of efficient automatics or must the car be a manual? This sort of preparation will help you to buy the right car.


Read more about:

Latest car buying advice

  1. What is a good mileage for a used car?

  2. What is a car finance broker?

  3. Car finance for drivers with a provisional licence