Motor Insurance

How to buy a car on Autotrader

Thinking about using Autotrader to buy a car but not sure if it's wise or not? Here are some key factors to consider.

If you are in the market for a new or used car the chances are that you have stumbled across the Autotrader website. Cars are listed nationwide from dealers and private sellers and buyers looking for recent models, classic cars, trucks, and motorbikes can easily find options that are available for purchase.

Is Autotrader a good place to buy a car?

While there are many places to buy a new car, Autotrader continues to maintain a reputation for being a trusted and reliable car buying site. Easy search options allow car buyers to search their database for vehicles, locating and filtering cars by make and model, year, mileage, and sorting by price and distance.

If you are searching for a specific model or a car with certain features this can be a useful way to quickly find the models that match your search parameters. Signing up for a buyer account on Autotrader is free and will allow you to save viable vehicles for reference and comparison purposes.

More people than ever are buying a car online and the tools provided by Autotrader allows for cars to be checked and easily compared before committing to a purchase. Search listings are always structured as paid ads first, followed by other listings but as the largest car classified site on the internet, the pros of buying through Autotrader far outweigh the cons.

What to check when buying a car on Autotrader?

Buying any vehicle will require a certain amount of diligence to ensure you are getting the best value for money. Once you have selected some suitable options it is worth taking a few steps to make sure that your purchase is completed safely.

  • Do a price comparison of models with similar mileage and trim to make sure the pricing is in line.
  • Do a history check to verify that the car is free from accidents and does not have any financial issues. (you can do these directly from the Autotrader site).
  • Do make sure to schedule a test drive and see the car before you buy.
  • Do make sure you check the VRM and VIN numbers against the paperwork.
  • Do use a credit card to provide you with protection if you are making a deposit or upfront payment.
  • Do make sure you have insurance to test drive the car (dealers will usually cover test drives, but you'll need your own insurance if test-driving from a private seller).
  • Do make sure that you buy the correct car insurance before driving your new car home.

While Autotrader does its best to weed out scams, there are thousands of cars for sale on their site and it is worth doing your own checks to ensure you are not the victim of a fraudulent sale. Be suspicious of deals that seem too good to be true, and make sure you understand insurance write off categories such as CAT-N, CAT-S or CAT-A/B, for vehicles that have been involved in accidents and maybe unroadworthy.

How do you pay for a car you buy through Autotrader?

If you have purchased a car from a seller on Autotrader then you will need to consider how you will arrange payment for your new vehicle. There are several ways to pay and complete the sale, each with varying levels of safety.

These can include:

  • Cash
  • Bank Transfer
  • Cheque or Bank Draft
  • Finance

Of the payment options listed, cash is the riskiest and any vehicles bought as a cash purchase should be handled carefully. If the seller agrees to accept payment via a check or a bankers draft they may wish to verify that the funds have cleared before handing over the keys.

Whichever way the car has been purchased a receipt from the seller should always be provided to verify the sales price and transaction.

If you wish to pay for your new car using finance Autotrader will provide quotes and partners with providers to help you acquire financing for verified dealers. Applications may be submitted online and in many cases, loan approvals are received in just a few minutes.

Are Autotrader reviews good?

With a rating that is ‘81% Excellent’ gained from over 62,000 Trustpilot reviews, Autotrader is clearly the go-to site for many car buyers that are looking for their next vehicle. In addition to TrustPilot reviews, AutoTrader has its own review system powered by Feefo that allows customers to review dealers and individuals that frequently sell cars on their pages.

Customers can leave ratings and document their experience of purchasing a car from a seller and over time this will attribute an overall rating with the highest possible score of 5 stars. When buying from Autotrader it is wise to check the reviews left by other buyers to learn about their experience purchasing from specific vendors. If the overall rating for a dealer is very low, it may indicate that there have been past problems and it might be best to look for another seller.

Erin Yurday

Erin Yurday is the CEO, Co-founder and Editor of NimbleFins. Prior to NimbleFins, she worked as an investment professional and as the finance expert in Stanford University's Graduate School of Business case writing team. Read more on LinkedIn.

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