Planning on buying a new car? There’s a few things you’ll need to know before you start shopping around. 

You can choose and buy a new car online, but if you want to see it or test drive it before you buy, you’ll want to visit a showroom. In England, these re-opened at the start of June, after having been closed for more than two months.

Buying at a dealership in England

A new car is a big purchase, so many people will want to see their options in person before making a final decision.

If you visit a dealership in England, there should now be a safety certificate on display, which shows they are complying with government hygiene guidance.

If you have concerns, give the dealers a call ahead of your visit to make sure they are following government guidelines. 

It’s also worth checking whether you need an appointment to visit a showroom. Some manufacturers, such as Land Rover and Seat, are offering appointment slots in order to limit the number of customers in their showrooms.

When you visit the dealership, you should now be able to take a test drive, but it will be on your own, without the dealer.

Alternatives to visiting a dealership

If you aren’t able to visit a dealership to buy a car, or would rather not, then there are other ways to go about it. 

A lot of dealers and manufacturers are offering contactless, online, click-and-collect purchasing options. For example, visitors to the Toyota website can choose the exact new car model they want, and tailor the specification, powertrain and colour. You can also arrange a trade-in for your old vehicle online and arrange finance agreements, if you’d like. 

Some manufacturers are running special offers and incentives as they attempt to bring back customers. For example, Volkswagen has introduced a new finance offer where the brand will cover the first three months’ worth of payments on new car purchases.

No £25 admin fee

When you update your policy online, e.g. amend driver, address or car details.

Making the right choice

Before you go shopping, read these car buying tips to ensure you get the best value for your money.

  • Consider long term value: The average new car will have lost around 40% of its value just one year after driving off the forecourt, according to the AA. So, consider whether you’d be better off buying a used one. 
  • Find a reliable vehicle: You want a car that won’t let you down and require expensive repairs. See this guide to learn about some of the cars that have good track records for reliability.
  • Choose a model that fits your lifestyle:  Will your car of choice fit in your garage? If you have small kids, can you fit pushchairs and everything you need in the boot? Will you just be using it for the supermarket run, or longer journeys? Those are the sorts of questions worth asking yourself. 
  • Find out about waiting times: If you’re in a hurry for your new car, then be sure to ask about how long you’re likely to need to wait before it’s ready. You may have to wait longer than normal as several car makers have only just recently restarted production in their factories. 
  • Consider the best way to pay: See our guide on the most common payment options available to car shoppers and take the time to understand the differences between the options available and which would best suit you.
  • Stick to your budget: While it’s worth trying to get a discount, if demand outstrips supply, then dealerships may not be willing to drop their prices. Plan for how much you can afford and don’t go over it.
  • Get the best price for your old car: Make sure you get the best price possible for your old car. If you’re part-exchanging it, first find out what it’s worth by using sites such as Parkers. Remember there are other ways to sell your car that might get you more than a part-exchange. Read our guide to learn about the different options.
  • Try before you buy: You can still test drive a showroom car in England – without the dealer accompanying you – so, if you’re not buying online, take advantage of the opportunity to do so (remembering you’ll need to bring your driving licence). Ideally, try out your desired car both on urban streets and on the open road.
  • Check your car carefully: If you have your new car delivered, then it should be in mint condition, so check for scratches or small dents. Also, make sure the car’s specification is exactly as you ordered.

If you feel ready for a new car, but it’s been a while since you’ve driven, it’s worth taking some time to prepare and make sure you get back behind the wheel safely and confidently.

No £25 admin fee

When you update your policy online, e.g. amend driver, address or car details.

Go to Solved to read more about driving, the rules of the road and road safety.