How to buy a car online


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From setting your budget, to buying insurance, check out these tips for buying a new car online and you’ll soon be behind the wheel of your perfect motor

While the process of how to buy a car and the cars you buy might have changed over the years, one things is certain – buying a new car is one of the most exciting purchases you’ll ever make.

When you’re buying a car online rather than in person, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the extensive choices that come up on even your first internet search.

Check out these tips for buying a new car, and you’ll be behind the wheel of your perfect motor in no time.

We’ve also got a handy checklist for buying a car so take a look so you don’t forget anything.

Buying a new car online tips

When buying a new car online, there are a few things you need to bear in mind:

  • Set your price range
  • Have a model in mind
  • Compare deals online
  • Shop for cars online
  • Get insurance quotes for cars online

Set your price range

Whether you’ll be buying a new car using your savings or a finance deal, it’s important you’re realistic about your budget.

Overstretching yourself financially can lead to problems later on – especially if you have little in savings or your income drops unexpectedly.

Use a budget planner to work out how much you can afford to spend.  There are plenty around, including one on the Money Advice Service website.

Remember – it’s not just the outright cost of the car you need to consider, but the regular running costs, too.

Sure, the price of a large SUV might be in your budget, but how much will a month’s worth of diesel set you back? While you’re setting your price range, consider the cost of fuel, tax and insurance – as well as parking costs, servicing and MOTs, which you’ll have to get every year once the car’s three years old.

Once you've budgeted, think about how you're going to pay for your car. Whether it's by buying it outright or with a monthly car finance arrangement, make sure you're not over-stretching yourself. 

If you do decide to buy a car on finance, you don’t have to take finance from the car dealer. Admiral now offer Car Finance and you could get the cash before going to the dealers.

Have a model in mind

Picking a car from the variety on the market can be difficult – but it could also be a no-brainer if you know what to look for.

You can get a good idea of the size and shape of car you’re after by looking at car magazines and websites, or just by watching cars on the road.

Then, think about what you’ll need it for. Is it for commuting and picking the kids up from school – or for weekend trips to see family and friends? If you have a big family and a dog, think about getting something with a raised height like a crossover SUV – it’ll make getting everyone into their seats much easier.

If you’re not too bothered about space and more interested in a car with built-in sat-nav, parking sensors and leather seats, maybe start by looking at smaller hatchbacks.

Once you’ve narrowed down what you need your new car to do – and any other criteria, such as its design or brand – it’s time to start your online research into the most suitable models in your price range.

Compare deals online

While you might be more familiar with the idea of visiting a local dealer to buy a car, it’s now really easy to buy a new car online. You can compare prices from dealers all over the country without having to haggle in person or over the phone, because a car broker does that for you.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to two or three models, it’s time to get out your phone, laptop or computer, and start shopping around.

Search any car broker and you’ll find a range of pre-negotiated discounts from dealers. Once you’ve told them what car you want, your broker might be able to do further negotiating on your behalf, and find you an even better price.

Buying a new car online doesn’t mean you can’t take a car for a test drive. Visit a dealership with your preferred model in stock and ask to take a test drive before making your final decision.

Where can I buy a new car online?

You can buy new cars online through these websites:

Get insurance quotes for cars online

Make sure you arrange car insurance before you become the car’s owner and certainly before you drive it away.

If you factored in the car’s insurance group when you were setting your price range or choosing your model, you’ll have an idea of how much your car will cost to insure compared to other cars.

Your final insurance premium will depend on a combination of factors, including how old you are, where you live and how much you’ll be using the car. When it comes to insurance, cars are put in groups from one to 50 – with 50 being the most expensive.

You can find out more about car insurance groups in our guide – but basically, the cheapest cars to insure are often the lowest-numbered, and these are usually relatively inexpensive models with small engines and low-priced parts.

Similarly, expensive cars with bigger engines and higher performance carry bigger insurance premiums. Once you’ve decided on your car and you know when you’ll be able to take it home with you, get in touch with our car insurance team for a quote.

Buying a car online is a big deal. While it’s tempting to get excited and make a hurried decision, remember that the time you spend finding the right car will really pay off in the long run. By following these simple steps you can find a car you can comfortably afford, is the right size and you’re proud to be seen driving. Happy hunting!

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