Surf, point, click, you’ve gone and bought it. You might have just bagged yourself a second-hand book, but these days it might as well be a big-ticket item like a car. Indeed, over a third of millennials (18-35 year olds) would buy a car online, according to research by Trustpilot and YouGov.
Overall though most of us are rather more cautious - just 25% would buy online.
Only last month one brave man bought a car using just his smartphone on his coffee break that is how simple buying a car has become. He knew what car he wanted, saw he could buy it online, and thought why not, but this isn't something there is too much of in the market.
Buying Cars Online: Dealerships - A thing of the past?
Car manufacturers are now making it a lot easier to buy online.
When it comes to letting you search through their used stock, or building yourself a brand new car specification, it's fairly straightforward.
New functionality is constantly being added - you can ask a question, take a 360-degree tour of the car online and book a test drive (or watch a video test drive) from your sofa.
Some manufacturers including BMW, Hyundai and Peugeot have a complete process in place for you to effectively click and collect, or click and deliver your brand new car. It's important to check whether the whole range is available to buy this way, as sometimes only selected models are available.
The downside of buying purely online is that you never get to see the car in the metal. You won’t know how comfortable it is, unless you go for the test drive option (if you do use our test drive guide).
However, in my experience - especially with a new car, buying online may not be the most sensible thing to do. That also applies to used cars, as you have to trust the seller to reveal any defects.
Another consideration of buying online is that there's no easy way to negotiate a lower price. If you want to haggle then you may not get this option.
"They find out exactly what sort of car you want"
Buying Cars Online: What other options are there?
One compromise may be a car buying service or car broker. We spoke to Palmdale Motors who offer these services.
They find out exactly what sort of car you want and establish a sensible price range for this, all for free.
That’s the initial consultation, the team then go and find the car you want, new or used for a set fee. They can also negotiate the best possible price and take your old car in part exchange.
Once everything is agreed, the car is then delivered to your door.
Buying Cars Online: Always do your research
Researching online is a no brainer (in fact, here's our quick guide to it), whether you are a millennial or not. Ultimately though you may prefer to see the whites of the car sales person’s eyes and the car you are actually buying. However, if you are very busy, or don't feel confident about the process, then a good option to effectively buy online is by using a buying service, or broker.