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Tips for buying a car during coronavirus

Buying a Car During Coronavirus: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Visiting a car dealership, negotiating financing in person, and test-driving a car could all expose a car shopper to the coronavirus. But many dealerships now follow CDC prevention guidelines to clean and disinfect their showrooms and cars, and many offer contactless services. CarGurus has launched a range of new search filters within our car listings that will make it easy for anyone to find dealerships offering safer shopping features like contactless delivery and remote test drives in their area.
Yes, it’s possible to buy a car during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, and in fact many automakers now offer low-APR and deferred payment deals as a result of the crisis. Use our new filters to find dealerships in your area that offer safe, contactless services.
Dealerships in most states are currently open and doing business. Some are open only for service at this point, and in some cases, they can conduct sales only online. A small number of states, including California, have specifically shut down car dealerships. Use our new filters to find dealerships near you that are open and offer safe, contactless services.
If you’re concerned your car might have come into contact with the coronavirus – for example, if a person with COVID-19 symptoms has traveled in it – you should disinfect it. This is important not only for your own well-being, but also to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. For more information on how to disinfect a car, CarGurus has published a guide to cleaning your car to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The coronavirus crisis has caused quite a bit of concern among car shoppers, particularly around finances, but some car purchases are urgent and simply cannot wait. Automakers and dealerships need to keep selling vehicles despite the crisis, so many now offer low-APR and deferred-payment deals to support sales while dealership visits pose risks. On top of that, gas prices are at historic lows. Use CarGurus’ new search filters to find dealerships in your area that offer safe, contactless services, and keep in mind that you may have more leverage to negotiate prices while overall demand for cars is much lower than usual.
Many dealerships offer online services, ranging from virtual appointments, which let you choose a specific time to speak to a sales representative over the phone or via a video call, right through to contactless home delivery and test drives from home. If you need to buy a car during the coronavirus crisis, use CarGurus’ new search filters to see cars available from dealerships that offer safer shopping measures.
It is possible that some vehicles are harder to find because of stoppage in production. However, the decline in vehicle sales has resulted in higher vehicle supply levels. The industry data on vehicle supply shows inventory levels increasing between February and March. After the country reopens, there could be a supply interruption as production ramps up and sales increase. But it is unlikely that there will be a shortage of popular luxury or non-luxury vehicles.
Similar to the domestic vehicles, it is possible that some vehicles are harder to find because of stoppage in production. However, for popular vehicles from brands like Nissan, Toyota, and Honda, consumers should be able to find the vehicles they want. Vehicles that are being shipped to the US may see a slight interruption in supply once sales rebound. But based on current inventory and sales levels, it does not appear there will be a major supply issue with imported vehicles.
If your car lease is coming to an end during the coronavirus, you should contact your lease provider to discuss your options. It’s unlikely that you will be able to physically return the car, but your lender might be willing to extend the contract until coronavirus concerns ease – this might be a formal extension for a set amount of time, or an informal rolling extension.
If you are worried about making a payment on your car loan or lease during the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis, you should contact your lender at the earliest opportunity. A lender can’t offer help if it isn’t aware that a problem exists. Make sure you have your loan or lease contract available for reference when you contact your lender to save time.
Most states have allowed auto repair shops, including those at dealerships, to remain open during the coronavirus. During this time of uncertainty, however, you should definitely visit the website and/or call any garage or repair shop you plan to visit in advance, since many are now scheduling appointments more carefully. You should also find out whether the shop you plan to visit follows CDC recommendations regarding prevention during the coronavirus. If you’re worried that not having your car serviced on schedule will affect its warranty, contact your dealer or the manufacturer itself for information on the changes it has put in place regarding this.
Letting any car sit still for a long time can lead to issues with the batteries, brakes, and tires.
  • Batteries can be drained even when the car is switched off if electrical items remain active (alarms, for example). Taken to the extreme, this could mean your car will fail to start just at the moment you need it. If your car is parked on property you own, you can overcome this danger by plugging into a “trickle charger,” which keeps the battery charged via a conventional wall socket. Failing that, you should start your car and run it for 15 to 20 minutes once a week or so. That will top off the battery as well as circulate fluids around the engine. Running the air-conditioning at the same time will help prevent mold from developing within your system.
  • When a car’s brakes aren’t used for a prolonged period, they can begin to rust on the surface. This in turn can make them noisy and cause them to seize. To prevent this from happening, roll the car backward and forward a few times. If you’re parked on private land and it’s flat, you can also leave the emergency brake off to prevent it from seizing. Be sure to leave the car in gear to prevent it from moving.
  • By rolling your car a few meters you can help prevent the tires from developing flat spots.
Breakdown recovery services such as AAA continue to operate during the coronavirus crisis, but because the cab of a tow truck is too small for social distancing, AAA will transport your car but asks drivers to find alternative transport. Garages and service workshops are also open, so car repairs should generally not be a problem, assuming all necessary parts are available, but again, you’ll want to observe social distancing at any shop you visit, and depending on how carefully the shop is following CDC prevention guidelines, you might want to disinfect your car after it’s been repaired.
If you carry a spare wheel in the car and can stop in a safe place, check CarGurus' guide to changing a tire yourself. You can then take the damaged tire to a garage or service center for repair or replacement, but again, you’ll want to observe social distancing at any shop you visit. If you don’t have the option of changing the wheel yourself, breakdown recovery services are still operating during the COVID-19 crisis and should be able to help.
The most important point is to ensure your car remains in roadworthy condition. Check to make sure the lights (including turn-signal lights), seatbelts, and brakes all work, and look out for any warning lamps on the dashboard after you’ve started the engine. You should also keep an eye on the oil and coolant levels and ensure the tires haven’t developed any flat spots.
Car owners have a number of options to sell their car themselves, but potential buyers may be uncomfortable dealing with the logistics of test-driving and purchasing a car during the coronavirus. Using CarGurus Pay will put your listing in front of an audience of verified buyers, provide assistance with paperwork, and allow secure payment online. If you do sell your car during the coronavirus crisis, it’s important to clean it to help minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus before handing it off to its new owner.
If you’re using your car during the coronavirus crisis, you’ll likely need to fill it with fuel at some point. Gas stations remain open, but it’s important to follow CDC guidance around social distancing and washing your hands if you visit one. If you can, grab a box of disposable gloves for your car before heading to a gas station, and put a fresh pair on before picking up a pump handle. Using a credit card to pay at the pump can help you avoid contact with station employees, but you’ll want to keep your hands protected no matter how you plan to pay. After you finish pumping and paying, throw your gloves in the trash and wash your hands, with sanitizer if possible.
If you’re charging your car using an electric charger, it’s important to follow the same rules you would when filling up with gas or diesel. Put on a pair of disposable gloves before touching any part of the charger if you have them, and throw those gloves away after you replace the charger and pay for your charge. Then wash your hands, with sanitizer if possible.
No-contact car service, also known as contactless or concierge car service, is when a garage or shop collects and returns your car as part of its service or maintenance regime. This would be a great option for repairs during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s important to clean your car before it gets collected and after it gets returned in order to help limit the spread of coronavirus.
Many dealerships offer new-car delivery if customers need it. Any dealers offering this service should also clean the car at the point of handover and offer a fully contactless digital service for payment and signing of documents.
Many dealerships can deliver cars for test drives from home, as long as that home is within 25 miles of the dealership itself. In this scenario a sales representative would bring the car to a customer’s house, disinfect it, and then allow a solo test drive to take place. On completion of the test drive, the car would be disinfected once again and taken back to the dealership. If the customer decides to go ahead with the purchase, all signing of paperwork and exchanging of funds can be carried out online. CarGurus makes it easy for car shoppers to find dealerships offering home test drives – simply select the relevant search filter when carrying out your search.
This depends on the person. If you are worried about being able to cover the monthly payment, leasing provides a great affordable option for consumers. However, with many automotive companies offering 0% for 84 months, there are great incentives in the new vehicle market.

If a consumer needs to replace their vehicle, and concerned about their job security and financial well-being, a lease is a great option to keep monthly payments low. Consumers should also look at the used vehicle market. With used vehicle prices falling, vehicles sitting on dealer lots, consumers may find a great deal on a used vehicle that has already depreciated.
This will depend on the brand and model. Vehicles that are getting refreshed and are key to automotive company's profits are likely to hit the market. These include vehicles like the Ford Bronco, new F-150, Honda Civic, and Chevrolet Tahoe.

Vehicles that will get a minor update, such as the Chevrolet Traverse, may get pushed back to 2022. While there may be a model year 2021 vehicle, the timing cycle for minor product updates may get pushed back as both automotive companies and suppliers stop production. Automotive companies will do what they can to avoid delays. However, when plants shut down for 3-5 weeks, they can still stay on track for most model launches. However, if production delays extend for months, it may be harder to stay on track.