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How Has the Covid-19 Pandemic Changed the Car Buying Process?

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Fun Rover

August 26, 2020

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Many Americans have had their daily schedules significantly changed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Days full of work, shuttling children to practice, and weekend social events have been replaced with days at home figuring out how to maintain a work schedule while teaching the kids.

Businesses of all kinds have adapted to these changing times including your local car dealerships. They want your business, and they know they have to work harder to get it. In many ways, it is easier right now to shop online locally than it may be when the quarantine ends, and shoppers can return to dealerships.

With people driving less, the quarantine has led to a decrease in car purchases. People aren’t in a hurry to spend money on transportation when they can’t go on vacation and aren’t even making the daily commute. In some ways, this puts shoppers in the driver’s seat with dealers. You can negotiate from a position of strength because they need the business more.

Shop Local Online

Local dealerships are encouraging shoppers to buy cars online. You can shop from the comfort of your own home and purchase your car without ever having to set foot in a dealership. You can discuss options with a salesperson online. Pricing is posted, telling you up front what the baseline is.

At-Home Test Drives

Most dealers are willing to bring cars to you for test drives. That’s essential to the purchasing process. You really shouldn’t buy a car based on pictures or reviews. Test driving is key when you are making this level of financial investment.

Of course, it is important to ask your dealer to make sure the car is cleaned or sanitized for your safety. The sanitization process should include wearing masks and wiping down the vehicle before your drive. Most auto centers are coached on best practices for hygiene and health, adhering to standards set by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Department of Health.

Usually you will be expected to drive alone rather than with the salesperson in the car. That’s a good opportunity for you to get the feel of the vehicle without someone chatting to you about how great the features are.

Apply for loans from Home

Applying for a car loan online has become a staple of American dealerships. In theory, this pre-approval process gives the shopper a better idea of how much money they have to spend. After all, it’s better to know up front what your responsibilities will be. That way you can determine how much of a down payment you need and what your monthly payments might be.

Dealerships are trying to make this very easy, working by phone, chat, text and email. As previously stated, they want your business, and they are bending over backwards to accommodate shoppers. However, without the pressure of standing in a dealership, you should explore your own bank’s special offers.

At-Home Trade Evaluations

Even before the quarantine, dealerships were encouraging shoppers to get a trade-in quote online. Their systems appraise your trade and make an offer. If they feel you are serious about trading, an appraiser may come to your home. While you test drive a new or new-to-you car, the appraiser can determine if your trade is in good shape and deserving of the online quote.

On the other hand, remember you are in the driver’s seat. So many consumers are putting off trading their vehicles due to the quarantine. If you have a good car for trade, you can hold out for a higher trade-in value based on the theory that your old car will be in demand in used car lots.

At-Home Delivery

Many dealerships are advertising that your new vehicle can be delivered directly to your driveway. You should ask if there is a mileage cap on that delivery. Some dealers charge a fee if it is more than an hour’s drive from the auto center.

During at-home delivery, a dealer representative will bring the paperwork for you to sign to finalize your purchase. This should be a quick process since all of your purchasing decisions will already have been made before the delivery.

With online shopping, safe test driving, online loan applications and purchased vehicle delivery, you may not miss walking through rows of cars at a dealership. You’ll have more time to read the fine print and perhaps feel more empowered to haggle from the comfort of your easy chair.

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