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
Jul 22, 2021

The option to buy a car online has been around for a while, but never has it been so popular. 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. 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 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 that buyers can be confident that the car is in good condition and have a chance to make sure that the car is right for them. And just in case there are any issues, drivers have a 14-day return period for added peace of mind, too.

By buying a car online, drivers are able to make more of their time, whether that's spending quality time with family, heading shopping or into the countryside. And buying a car online is not as risky as you might think since there are robust laws in place to protect people who buy online. This is where the minimum standards come in, too, since buyers know exactly what they're getting. 

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 drivers 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 car buyers since 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 the customer relies on the online seller to supply them with a car they can confidently buy without test driving, so 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, for instance, and works hard to find these, a responsibility that used to be the customer’s with varying degrees of success - especially since most drivers only go through the car-buying process every three years or so.

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.


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