Tesco launches secondhand car service

4 April 2011

Tesco has just started its own second-hand car sales service, which the supermarket says will offer cheaper prices.

However, buyers will not be able to test drive the cars before they buy.

Having bought online dealership Carsite, the website will be renamed TescoCars.com and will list up to 3,000 cars a week, with new cars added to the site on a daily basis.

By cutting out the middlemen and supplying directly to customers, the retailer claims it can offer customers better value.

Second-hand vehicles on sale will range from six months to three years old and will all undergo independent inspections from the RAC, to check the car is safe and roadworthy, and HPI (hire purchase inspection) to ensure there is no outstanding finance on the car or that it isn't a stolen vehicle.

Customers will be able to view the HPI check online, which also ensures the car hasn't been written off and that it has a valid vehicle identification number (VIN).

The supermarket chain will also reward customers who purchase a car through TescoCars.com with 2,000 clubcard points and it promises to allocate each buyer a named adviser to help them with any questions.

Tesco Cars also promises to deliver cars to the buyer's front door with a seven–day, no–quibble money–back guarantee, if they are unhappy with the car.

Making it easier

Commenting on the new launch, Andrew Higginson, chief executive of retailing services at Tesco, says: "You can select and buy your car from the comfort of your own home and, just like your weekly shop, we will even deliver it to your front door." 

"Trust, value and service are at the heart of the Tesco Cars experience. We are offering a wide choice of the most popular models – from small hatchbacks to executive saloons to family–sized MPVs. Each and every vehicle will have passed a 167–point RAC inspection," he adds.

Despite the supermarket brands assurances that customers aren't at risk of buying a dodgy or faulty car, there are reservations within the industry.

Nick Gibbs, features editor of Auto Express, says that inevitably buying online comes with some small level of risk.

More significantly he argues that customers will miss out on other deciding factors that looking at a compute screen cannot show: "Road testing a car isn't just about seeing if there are any faults, its also seeing how you feel about the car – how easy is it to get in, do you like driving it and what is the boot space like? For example, you might read it has 400–litre capacity but what does that mean?"

In contrasting fortunes, internet car buying company Webuyanycar.com was given a rap on the knuckles by the Office of Fair Trading for buying cars hundreds of pounds below the original valuation price.

An investigation by the OFT revealed that 96% of customers ended up selling their car to the website for less than its initial valuation.

It found that vehicle inspectors sometimes reduced the valuation sellers were first offered by 25%. Its investigation covered July 2009 to June 2010 and Webuyanycar.com says that this is not reflective of the business today.

It has also since updated it's website with on the spot approximate valuations and more in–depth accurate valuations.

"If you're selling your car you should be aware it's people's jobs to bring the price down. The people you talk to will come across as very professional and offer a sound proposition but their job is to pay less so don't get caught unawares," warns Gibbs.

How to buy a vehicle safely

If you're doing it yourself what are the main things to be aware of?

With contact details be wary of people who only leave a mobile phone number as this is hard to trace. Criminals will also often use payphones and disguise this by listing a landline with a set time to call at.

The VIN and engine number should match up with the registration certificate (V5C) – your main dealer can help you check this.

Hold the V5C up to the light, there should be a DVL watermark.

Don't go ahead if the seller has a blue V5C with a serial number in the following ranges:

BG8229501 to BG9999030

BI2305501 to BI2800000

This means the form could have been altered so contact the police.

If you are viewing a vehicle ask to see it in the daylight at the seller's home.

To make sure the seller is legally allowed to sell the vehicle ask for the registration number, make and model of the vehicle, the expiry date of the tax disc, and the MOT test number.

How to sell a vehicle securely

Never let the buyer go on a test drive alone

If accepting a cheque, wait until the money has gone into your account before exchabging the vehicle.

Have access to your VIN and V5C as the buyer will want to see this.

If selling your car privately, notify the DVLA of the buyer's details on the relevant section of the registration certificate.

You will need to remove your tax disc from the vehicle and can apply for a refund of the remaining months on your tax disc once the car has been sold. 

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