Buying a car? Give it the once-over first

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Buying a Car Online

The online marketplace has somewhat revitalised shopping for many people, with a myriad of purchases both large and small being made via the internet. The automotive market has especially embraced these new opportunities to buy and sell new and used cars.

Shopping for a car online gives you a great number of tools for finding that perfect vehicle. You can investigate new and used cars far and wide, or limit your searches to your local area. Depending on the website you're using, you may be able to arrange to deliver the car you're buying right to your door, or to a nearby dealership should the seller be a part of a chain.

Car sales websites come in all types; Automotive classifieds detailing cars from private sellers, franchised dealers with car lots around the country, local independent garages with small inventories, huge car supermarkets and many more. Tens of thousands of vehicles are listed on the internet in the UK alone, and separating the wheat from the chaff can be a daunting prospect. Don't get carried away when looking through car listings, and always keep in mind your needs, and more importantly your budget. Even though a vehicle may look great from it's pictures and description, you should still run a full car check before going ahead with the sale, and a proper physical check is recommended too. Test driving the car will of course give you lots of information on what you're buying.

Some automotive classified ad sites, such as AutoTrader, allow you to complete your purchase online, paying directly to the seller. However, buying in such a way without actually checking the car physically and with an online car check can be risky. You should always insist that the vehicle's V5 logbook be included with the sale, as well as any identification and proof of ownership. Some of the larger dealership or car supermarket websites will let you reserve your desired car online, though sometimes this incurs a fee. You avoid many of the risks going down this route, and the 'cooling off' period that this gives you means you can back out if you wish.

Smaller dealerships and local garages may not have the facility to sell and accept payments online, but they should be able to furnish you with all the details of their vehicles on their website. Taking a look at a dealer's inventory before visiting them means you can quickly see which businesses to visit and which to avoid, which can save you a lot of effort and time.

When buying a new car, consulting the actual manufacturers website is a great place to start. After wading through the spiel you can get to know prices, running costs, options, available models and more specifications, straight from the company making the vehicle. In fact, a lot of carmakers allow you to virtually build your desired car using online tools; allowing you to choose your model, trim, engine, colour and any other specifications they offer. Noting down this information, you can then visit a nearby dealership to tailor your order, in the knowledge that your choice of vehicle is down to your own research, not the pressure of a salesman.