One in five drivers (21%) have bought a used car without seeing it in person first, new data from AA Cars reveals.

AA Cars survey data found that by March 2021, just one in 10 (10%) drivers had bought a car unseen, with 8% doing so during the pandemic alone. Two years on, the  proportion of drivers who have bought a car this way has more than doubled to 21%. 

The latest survey also shows 6% of drivers have not bought a car unseen, but would be willing to in the future. However, a sizable proportion (73%) say they would never buy a car without first seeing it in person. 

Of those who have bought a car without viewing it in person first, 54% bought a used vehicle. 

Many car dealerships diversified during the pandemic by offering click and collect and remote viewings to allow drivers to continue to purchase cars while observing lockdown restrictions. Most dealerships have continued to offer click and collect or delivery options, as it enables them to sell to people all across the UK. 

Through AA Cars’ partnership with AnyVan, for example, consumers can arrange for a car to be delivered to them in as little as 48 hours by using the AA Cars Delivery Service. Dealers can also use this to arrange for a vehicle to be delivered to a customer’s doorstep anywhere in the UK. 

Reassurance that a car comes with a warranty is the factor most likely to make a driver willing to buy a car unseen, with nearly three in five (57%) saying this would make them more confident about a remote purchase. 

Almost a third (32%) of drivers said they would feel more confident about buying a car unseen if they knew it would be easy to return if they ran into any problems. Similarly, 30% would buy remotely if they had bought from the dealership or platform before. A quarter (28%) said having a detailed vehicle inspection provided by the dealership or platform would make them feel more confident about purchasing a vehicle in this way. 

Mark Oakley, director of AA Cars comments: “Car-buying was a very different experience during the pandemic, with many drivers buying a car unseen for the first time. Though lockdown restrictions are now firmly in the rear-view mirror, people’s purchasing habits have continued to evolve.

“With drivers keen to secure the best deal possible on their next used car, the ability to search and purchase from dealerships all over the country can be highly beneficial as prices can vary from region to region. Being able to purchase from further afield can, and does, help people save money.

“It’s clear, however, that there need to be reassurances in place before people part with their money, especially when they haven’t seen the car in person before.  “The offer of a warranty, and knowing a car can be returned if something did go wrong, or buying through a dealership where vehicles have been independently inspected, will give buyers more confidence and can help dealers secure a sale.”

Read More: Used car values remain resilient in February 2023

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