Next, contact the dealership on the phone or through the internet to make sure the exact vehicle you’re considering is still in stock. From there, you’ll need to decide if you want to do a test drive of the vehicle, negotiate a sales price, and make arrangements for the paperwork and delivery.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR TRADE-IN?
While many aspects of car buying don’t require face-to-face interaction, there are a few that require personal contact with another party. Vehicle trade-ins often require a physical inspection and evaluation before an offer is made, though some dealers are adapting to buyer preferences toward online transacting.
A “blind trade,” as it is informally called, is when the dealership sends a customer an appraisal offer after receiving photos of the interior, exterior, vehicle identification number and odometer of the car being traded in. It’s worth asking if your local dealership offers this type of trade-in.
TAKING A TEST DRIVE
The test drive is another story. Unless you already have experience with the vehicle you’re shopping for, it’s always a good idea to try before you buy. Right now, Tesla is the only automaker that allows buyers to return a new vehicle if they are not satisfied since its car orders are initiated and processed entirely online.
It is therefore imperative that shoppers work with their salesperson to devise a workable solution for test-driving a car safely. Some dealerships may be willing to bring the vehicle to your home for the test drive, reducing the number of people you interact with. We further encourage shoppers to request that common touch points are disinfected before a test drive.
USED CARS AND INSPECTIONS
In this tough economic time, many buyers might want a used car instead. We normally recommend an inspection from an independent mechanic, but if you’re looking to minimize contact with others, we have a workaround. Opting for a certified pre-owned vehicle (CPO) will allow you to skip that step since these vehicles have already undergone a multi-point inspection.
CPO cars usually cost more, but buying one gets you an extended manufacturer warranty, greater peace of mind and the potential for saved time in the shopping process. Just make sure your vehicle is an authentic certified pre-owned vehicle sold from the same brand since the term “certified” is often used loosely.
COMPLETING THE DEAL
The final step in the buying process is signing the paperwork and taking delivery of the vehicle. Some dealers allow both to be conducted from your home. If not, ask if the dealer can arrange overnight delivery of the paperwork to you. Submitting paperwork ahead reduces the amount of time the salesperson needs to be at your house for final signatures, and an at-home vehicle delivery helps limit time spent at the dealership.
Also ask your salesperson which dealer extras, such as an extended warranty, you will be offered at the time of signing. This way you can have a decision in mind about any extras and speed through the sales pitches.
Be cautious and make sure your vehicle choice is the right one in these times of uncertainty. If you’re feeling pressured by an expiring lease, see if it can be extended on a month-to-month basis until things settle down. If your circumstances allow for it, waiting even a little while may give you a better sense of where things are headed down the road.