In these days of pandemics and pressure, our ability and will to go out shopping for anything has been worn away. Platforms like Amazon made online retail a mainstream option years ago, but the same couldn’t be said for cars. It was always supposed that car shopping was immune from the online world, because people would never accept not being able to walk up to a car, smell it, sit in it and test it.
The modern age has proven those sceptics wrong, and the UK is now home to multiple online platforms that make car buying easier, safer and more convenient for the consumer. Today we’ll be sharing 5 of the best ones out there:
Pros: New and used cars all in one place; huge selection; strong reputation
Cons: Dealers can pay to rank their listings higher on the page
This is something of a blue-chip name in the world of car sales in the UK. As you might expect, its long-established history and prestige afford it a treasure trove of listings of both new and used cars sourced from reputable independent dealers. These categories are clearly separated so there’s little to no chance of confusing a new and used listing.
One drawback with Auto Trader is that dealers can pay to raise their ranking, so your results are not necessarily the most relevant. You have to fight your way through the “sponsored” content.
Pros: Pleasing graphics makes features and criteria clearer; very useful smart search feature
Cons: Reviews don’t seem as reliable as other platforms; used cars only
The first thing that grabs you on Motors is the eye-catching use of colour and graphics. It makes the various criteria and features far easier on the eyes. The whole experience is extremely user-friendly, and you can quickly find great used cars to suit your needs using the smart search function.
Users should, on the other hand, be wary of new-car images being used in place of current ones. It seems to happen, and makes some of the listings’ reliability factor (especially reviews) suffer somewhat.
Pros: No hidden factors in the pricing – very clear; email alerts optional for price changes
Cons: Not a huge selection
CarGurus is a smaller player in the UK, though much larger in North America. It still offers great features to UK users. One of the things we like most is the transparency on pricing, advising users if the site feels the asking price doesn’t line up with market value. You can also set it up to receive email updates should the price of a car you like drops.
It’s an up-and-coming platform with around 243,000 used cars available. That’s still only about half that of large competitor Auto Trader.
Pros: Purchasing and financing all in one location; user-friendly platform
Cons: Not a huge selection
Findandfundmycar.com is a new arrival, and seems to be trying to shake things up by bringing more to the customer experience than just searching for cars. This platform brings together car listings (around 170,000 currently) and car finance in one place, so you can both “find” and “fund” your car all in one go. They even throw in shopping discounts at high-street giants like John Lewis and Halfords with their deals.
It’s small at the moment, and its selection certainly can’t rival the “big boys” like Auto Trader and Motors, but with their commitment to an improved value-added experience for buyers, we think they are going places.
Pros: Prices clear and fixed at best rate; great source for new cars
Cons: Stock images only on listings; lots of spam
When you’re looking for a new car, Carwow offers an innovative platform for users. Instead of listing specific cars and models for sale, you select a make and model you want, and then it’s left to dealerships offering that car to deliver the best deal to you. This ensures that you have the best-possible price quickly, and removes any need for negotiating.
Two small drawbacks of this system are that you can’t actually see the car you’re hoping for when you make an inquiry, because options will be sourced from multiple dealerships. You’ll only see stock photo examples. Furthermore, you leave yourself open to quite a lot of spam after using the service, but at least you can easily unsubscribe if that’s going to be a problem.
Try Different Platforms Based on Your Needs
Reflect on your specific need and one of these platforms is sure to make a good match. Keep your common sense and wits about you as you browse, and be mindful of images and authenticity at all times.
James Greenaway is car enthusiast and owner of Carzam a UK based blog dedicated to the automotive industry