Tips, Tricks & Trends

Buying a Car Online in the Age of Social Distancing

Carmakers are set to experience their lowest retail sales since the Great Recession as stay-at-home laws take effect and other COVID-19 prevention measures are implemented. As a result, car dealerships have been forced to close as 35 states and counting have ordered non-essential businesses to temporarily shut their doors.

In order to salvage sales opportunities, carmakers are further incentivizing customers with 0% financing and deferred payment options to purchase new vehicles online in the age of social distancing. The good news is, you can continue your car search from the comfort of your own home.

Just like purchasing a car physically in a traditional dealership setting, buying a car online requires ample research and budget setting. Check out these tips below for aspects to keep in mind as you shop virtually.  

Set Your Budget First 

It is paramount that you determine a car budget that you are comfortable with before you begin your car search to help you stay on track and avoid buyer’s remorse. You should not only consider your monthly car note but also the total interest on your loan, overall maintenance, insurance options and the cost of fuel. Sites like Edmund have helpful car affordability calculators to help determine your car budget. 

Do Ample Research 

Think through what you are actually looking for in your next car whether it’s brand new option or certified pre-owned. Are you interested in crossover or sedan? Do you want an electric vehicle, a car powered by a traditional gas engine, or something in between?

Make a list of your dream brands and must-have features. You can search through our reviews for up-to-date news on the latest cars or other platforms like Cars.com. The Reddit car community is also a great place to cross-reference the vehicles on your list.

Pick Your Car 

After completing your research, you should have a better grasp on what car you would ideally like to have in your driveway. You can Google search your ZIP code and the car model of your choice together to find available inventory at the dealership closest to you.

You can further narrow your search by filtering by color or other desired features. For further questions you may have regarding your ideal car, you can reach out to the dealer’s online salesperson through chat to confirm their inventory or clarify sales discounts.

Evaluate Your Financing Options  

You can work directly with the auto seller to finance your vehicle or obtain a loan through your bank or credit union. It can be helpful to reach out to a few lenders to compare financing terms and conditions. This added step can help you save long-term. It’s also important to note that preapproval for a loan is conditional. 

Get Your Car Delivered  

Given everything that’s going on in our world today, taking a car for a customary test drive is extremely unlikely. However, car dealerships are getting creative in how they can continue to offer a consistent car buying experience to their customers remotely.

Some dealerships have started offering video tours of their available cars and are even offering to deliver cars just for a test drive while following the CDC’s available guidelines. It’s all about creating ways to increase buyer confidence.