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Buying or selling your car online – a beginner’s guide

Buying a new car or selling your old car can be a confusing process at the best of times, but there is something that’s made the whole thing a lot easier – the internet.

People all over the country are taking advantage of the interconnectedness of the web and new services and tools to help them buy their dream car or get the best price for their old one.

Whether you’re ready to upgrade, downsize, make some money or spend some, we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to give you an overview of how to buy or sell your car online.

Buying a car

Shopping online for groceries or clothing is a process most people are familiar and comfortable with, but when it comes to much larger purchases it can still feel quite daunting; online security is a bigger concern and making a decision about something as important as the car you drive everyday is more difficult without being able to physically examine it first.

The good news is is that buying a car online is already an incredibly popular process – there are a number of reputable sellers out there and great tools to help you look up the value and history of the vehicle before you buy for piece of mind.

Shopping online is the best, most convenient way to ensure you’re getting the best price. It’s not unusual to find models thousands of pounds below their list price and cheaper than in a showroom.

If you already know what kind of car you’re after, one of the simplest ways to find a deal is by using a reputable broker. Long-established websites like Drivethedeal.com and Carfile.co.uk use your specific requirements – like make, model, miles driven and colour – to generate a list of available cars from dealers around the country. You pay a deposit to reserve your car and then the remaining balance when you pick the car up or have it delivered.

If you’re still in the research phase tools like Which? Car offers unbiased reviews of different cars and helpful information about what to look out for.

Selling a car

The web is an excellent tool to help connect you with buyers around the country who might be interested in buying your car. There are two main routes you can go down to sell your car; through a broker or by private sale.

Selling your car to an online broker is the more straightforward option of the two if you can’t be bothered with the hassle and want to make a quick sale. The downside of these services however is that you often won’t get offered as much for your car as you might through a private sale or doing a bit more legwork. Services like We Buy Any Car and The Car Buying Service work by giving you a valuation for your vehicle online. You can then choose to take your car to a local drop off point, where a representative will confirm the offer price; if you accept, they will pay for your vehicle on the spot and the deal is done.

Before you agree to sell your car to a service like this, be sure to compare a few different offers to make sure you’re getting the best deal. The CAP also offers an online valuation tool which is very useful as you begin – the service is completely impartial and collates a range of market data to give you an accurate reflection of how much your car is worth.

A private sale on the other hand requires a little more effort on your part but is a good option if you want to get the best possible price for your vehicle or have an unusual car to sell. One of the easiest ways to go about it online is to create a listing on a reputable website like Auto Trader or Preloved. Many sites will allow you to post a listing for free, but it comes down to you to find a suitable buyer and negotiate a price. Gumtree is another popular place to list used cars for sale and has the added advantage of helping you find someone who is likely already in your local area.

Are you tempted to try buying or selling your car online?

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