First-time car buyer? Some useful advice

Top tips to make a safe and secure transaction while buying your first car online

Reading Time: 3 minutes


If you’re one of those young people making a beeline to purchase your first car – perhaps to avoid public transport in these pandemic times – you know what a daunting task this can be.

Online dealerships are fast becoming the most popular destination to look for and purchase cars. But the need to be vigilant is ever-present, given the increase in buyers being deceived over the internet.

Knowing how to spot faulty vehicles is difficult especially when you’re not an expert. Vehicles can often be presented in a far better condition than they are actually in.

Some dealers even go to the lengths of temporarily fixing mechanical issues with cheap and faulty parts to get them through the sale unknowingly to online customers. It’s important to not be afraid to ask seemingly uncomfortable questions about a particular vehicle.

first time car buyer
Source: Canva

Here are some key things to look at when buying a car online.

1. Documents

Asking the seller for documents like the vehicle registration and its service history can be essential in providing a safe sale. Failure to produce these key documents should be treated with suspicion. All cars will be registered to state this registration can be found either on the windscreen or the registration documents. Always err on the side of caution when it comes to the registration sticker, as this isn’t completely legal proof that the vehicle is registered.

2. Pricing

When searching for cars online you can stumble across a deal that seems too good to be true and more often than not, it is. Just because a car looks good aesthetically, doesn’t mean it has got any problems, the listing price will often reflect this. Check around online to see what the average pricing is.

3. Know your seller

Confirming the seller’s identity is one way that you can validate their legitimacy. Most scammers will try and stick to a message-based form of communication such as email, and they will actively avoid phone conversations. Try and get them on the phone early on as this will also help establish a better relationship.

first time car buyer
Source: Canva

4. Payment

Arguably the riskiest part about buying a car online is the payment. Many fraudulent sellers will ask for a payment upfront right very soon into any initial talks. They will try and obtain your money via international bank transfer, PayPal F&F, or any other way that makes it difficult to get your money back. If you do need to send money, make sure to use a safer method like using a credit card, cash, or cheque, so at least you have greater security.

5. Inspection

This might not always be possible when shopping for cars online, but inspecting a car in real life is the best way to make sure it matches up to specifications given on the listing. It is also a good time to ask the seller if you can test drive the car. Spending money on a car is a big commitment, so there must be no faults where they are not specified.

Source: StressFreeCarRental.com

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