One in 10 now buy a used car without seeing it first

Sight unseen car buying

Sight-unseen used car purchases are on the up, according to new research. One in 10 (11 percent) of buyers are now taking the plunge without seeing their new vehicle first.

The data comes from an AA Cars poll of 19,350 drivers. Its theory is that online portals are yielding more consumer trust, as buyers put their faith in the transparency of used car listings.

It’s also worth noting that the average used car is getting younger and, as a result, more expensive. So there is potentially less risk, even if buyers are generally paying more.

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Sight unseen car buying

What’s more, 52 percent of those who hadn’t bought a car ‘sight-unseen’, said they would consider it – if the car was examined by a pre-sale vehicle inspector from a trusted brand.

What else makes consumers more likely to buy cars online? Forty-eight percent said dealers being upfront and transparent, particularly regarding a buyer’s right to cancel. Predictably, discounted prices would get more fingers clicking (44 percent). And 44 percent also said an affiliation with a trusted body to verify the quality of a dealer’s stock would increase appeal.

One of the most important things for an online advert is presentation. More pictures, more videos and exhaustive information about the car would make 37 percent of browsers more likely to buy. Ultimately, it’s about reassurance – that’s why we go to view cars in the first place. Get that across online and you’re on to a winner.

Sight unseen car buying

“A decade ago, the idea of buying a car without seeing it in person was highly unusual,” said James Fairclough, CEO of AA Cars.

“These days, consumers are much more comfortable with buying valuable products they haven’t seen first – namely due to the sheer volume of listing information and all-angles pictorial evidence that is provided by respected portals online, making a prospective buyer feel like they have practically kicked the tyres themselves.

“Buyers can also increasingly feel at ease as they are sheltered by the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 which gives them a ‘right to return’ a car if it develops a fault in the first 30 days of ownership – or to ask for a repair in the first six months after it was bought.”