Having worked for a high volume second hand car dealer in the early 2000 I would urge anyone to never buy from these dealers, usually only the bare minimum is done a quick once over to tick boxes to say things have been inspected and then shoved out for sale with a coat of polish to make them look good, even worse online because you’ll never see all the minor dings and scratches, you won’t see the marks or stains on the interior and you won’t hear the unusual noises when running and driving, once you have the car in your possession you’re much less likely to give it back and they‘lol just placate your concerns with promises of fixes.
fixing a few things here and there never overcomes the underlying issue that it’s a bad car
Unfortunately it's very much a luck of the draw situation.
I.e. if the previous owner has traded in a nice car...you'll probably have a reasonable experience. If they've traded it in because it had issues I'd not expect them to get picked up. A lot of these of second hand places seem to operate on the basis...we put a warranty on it..the customer can find out what is broken and then we'll argue the toss as to if it's covered.
In general I'd want to see the car, on the basis that if I had a pound for every time I'd turned up to a car advertised online that looked OK in the pictures but looked like a shed in person I'd at least have enough to get a round in. Also you can get a feel for the previous owner..eg are the letters worn off the tyres from them dragging them along kerbs..does the car smell? Are the tyres wearing evenly? That kind of thing...other bit is panel gaps etc. The only time I've known bad panel gaps show up online you could see them from space in person.
If it was something in manufacturers warranty still I might do it if the price was right but personally I want to drive the car and give it a look over before committing.
I personally wouldn't buy any car online, the cinch & cazoo adverts on the telly say they do a 300 point inspection & recondion everything on the car, as if.
1) how could anybody do a 300 point inspection even if their going down as far as nuts, bolts & screws which would be very unlikely so thats a load of BS.
2) why recondition everything & risk losing loads of money, not everything can be reconditioned. The truth is more than likely buy it cheap like ex rental, finance repossesion or ex mobility, replace only what is absolutely nessesary with cheap parts, slap a load of filler & paint over any damage & out the door.
They're also a huge rip off as If you watch the ads look closely & you'll see their list of cars in which they are asking over £15k for a second hand Fiesta, I wouldn't pay that for a new Fiesta let alone a second hand one, they truly are awful cars as my uncle has one & everything on my Panda which would have been about half the price when new is 100 times better quality than any Fiesta. Even when I brought mine pre reg I still looked over it & took it for a good test drive as I would with any car, nowadays I always check the MOT history & if it is full of major advisorys & fails as long as your arm I stay clear of them, it was seeing lots of car for sale like that & the price of used cars at the time which made my decision to buy new/pre reg which soon after I ended up with my black Panda Pop with 10 miles pre reg for just under £8k & the current value of Panda's online with simular spec, age, mileage & not as good condition as mine are only around £1,500 less than I paid for my car so it worked out to be a very good buy.
The only thing that could save a purchase without viewing the car first is Distance Selling regs
If you're able to complete the purchase over the phone rather than purely online (edit: this may also apply to online, I'm not 100% sure on the wording) they are required to allow you to cancel for no reason up to 14 days after delivery. Of course this still leaves you with the faff of returning the car (I'm not sure which party is responsible), cancelling or changing insurance etc etc so its not ideal but if the purchase price is the clincher and you can't find similar then its an option. I agree with most here that I wouldn't advise on it
One thing I did notice during my ultimately aborted search for a new family car (I don't need a car that badly and market went mad) was that Cazoo especially seem to have a lot of de-fleets.
Dealers will have cars from end of PCP and tend to hang on to them. Stuff on Cazoo in the 2-3 year old category seemed to have a few things in common. First they'd have multiples of the same spec..same age, registered in the same town at the same time. They'd have Full manufacturer history one owner decent tyres higher than average miles.
Then on looking at the photos properly...you'd realise anything that couldn't be fixed cheaply by a PDR guy and wheel refurbishment looked a bit battered. Eg. Boot carpet surprisingly stained, interior plastic surprisingly scratched up, larger scratches on the exterior that would need a full panel respray and blending, just tidied up as best possible.
Then you realise what you're looking at...that really battered lease/rental car thar gets flogged like a mule for 2 to 3 years then gets moved on. Just with a wash and the obvious damage fixed.
You can buy a used car at near new car prices and pay £££ per month in loan repayments or you stick with the Panda and put that money aside each month. Every now and then you will have bills to pay (e.g. for parts that wear out) but in total you will spend nowhere near as much money and have a nice nest egg built up.