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Buying a car: online and in-person options explained

Explore your options when visiting a dealership or buying online, and find out which works for you.

UK car dealerships can remain open. Under the latest Government guidelines, issued in November 2021, masks are required in retail settings unless you are exempt. Further measures have been introduced in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Please confirm the rules and any exemptions to mask wearing with your local authority before visiting a dealership. To make an appointment, simply contact the dealership via the Auto Trader advert. In this article, we'll take a look at your options when it comes to buying your next car - and whether you'd do it all online, or get back to the dealership. Perhaps you’re not so keen on the idea of sharing public transport on the way into work, or you’re working from home and want to swap the sensible hatchback for something a bit more fun for the weekends. Maybe you’re ready to go electric. Whatever the reason, and whatever the type of vehicle you’re after next, we’ve got you covered.

Choosing your next car

When researching your car, feel free to take full advantage of our guides and advice – including expert reviews, guides to the best cars for your lifestyle, long-term reviews and plenty more features and finance guides. You can also see your next car in action over on our YouTube channel.
Take your time, run your budgets, pick out the coolest cars and find the one that’s right for you. When you’ve found the one, you’ve got a few great options on how to buy it.

Buying and selling online

If you’re swayed by the convenience of online shopping, then we’ve got your back.
Whether you’re buying, selling or financing your car online, Auto Trader have plenty of information and buying tools available, and you can go from start to finish in just a few clicks. When buying online, you’re protected under UK consumer law. Vehicles purchased online also come with a returns policy, similar to other online purchases – just make sure you check the contract for details on how to arrange a return before you sign. Many dealerships now provide Home Delivery and Click and Collect services. Simply add your postcode to see if the dealership offers delivery to your area. Note that some dealerships may offer this service for free, others may charge an additional fee. When searching, just look out for the tab on the listing or filter ads by dealers offering Home Delivery. Dealers will flag when Click and Collect is available, and you can discuss the ins and outs of how it works when you contact them through the ad. Learn more about buying a car online.

Visiting a dealership

Dealerships will be allowed to re-open from the following dates, subject to change (so please check local guidance to confirm your local roadmap out of lockdown):
• England – Monday, 12th April 2021 • Wales – Monday, 12th April 2021 • Scotland – Monday, 5th April 2021 • Northern Ireland – currently closed, next review due 15th April 2021. If you do want to visit a dealership when they re-open, you’ll have to follow any precautions in place such as: • Wearing a mask • Sanitising your hands • Checking in using the Track & Trace app • Taking a temperature check This list is non-exhaustive, and other measures may be in place to help keep everyone safe. We encourage you to remotely contact your preferred dealership (contact details are available in Auto Trader adverts) to book an appointment and confirm any steps you’ll need to take, before you visit. Rules for car dealerships are likely to change in line with the latest government guidance, which can vary in different regions. Check the guidance local to you. Dealerships will also be able to advise you on test drives and other policies.

Find your next car

Ready to get going? Head over to the Auto Trader app, or start your search on-site today.

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