Lemon Law Attorneys Blog


Tips on Buying a Car During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way many people shop. Many people now buy groceries and household goods with little, if any, physical contact because of the coronavirus.  But can you buy a car remotely?  Yes.  You also can buy a car with little or no contact and take delivery at your home or office. Here are some tips on buying a car safely during the pandemic.

  1. Research cars online. When looking for a car, much of the legwork can always be done at home. Begin by looking online and determining what kind of vehicle you are interested in, what options you want, and which dealers have them in stock. After you find cars you are interested in, research the sticker and invoice prices for new cars or the average price range for used cars.  See How to Buy a Car without Being Taken for a Ride.
  1. Negotiate remotely. There is no need to go to the dealer to haggle with the salesperson across the desk. Instead, you can negotiate the sales price remotely by telephone, email, or text. You should be able to do all the negotiation without physical contact. See How to Buy a Car without Being Taken for a Ride for negotiation tips.
  1. Look for contact-free test drive or return options. Because of the pandemic, many dealers have adapted to the times by offering contact-free test drives, allowing you to test drive a car at your home or office. Because the dealer will drop the car off for you to test drive, you should mask up and maintain the recommended physical distance from the dealer employee when the car is brought to you to test. You also might want to wipe down the surfaces that you will touch in the car, keep your mask on during the test drive, or open the windows at least partially during the test drive in case there are traces of the coronavirus in the car.

Some dealers and manufacturers offer various forms of virtual test drives that allow you to look a vehicle over or get an idea of its basic features before buying it. You also can look for test drive videos online. 

If you cannot find a dealer that will provide a contactless test drive, see if the dealer or manufacturer has a return option.  Some dealers and manufacturers might charge a fee for the option to return a vehicle if you are not satisfied with it.  Used car buyers in California also can pay a nominal fee for the option to cancel the contract within a limited time after the sale.

Shoppers looking to buy a car without a test drive should carefully inspect the cars before delivery, if feasible, or immediately after delivery so that they can identify any problems within any return period offered by the seller or the manufacturer.  This is particularly important when buying from online-only sellers, whose sales have been booming since the pandemic began.

  1. Sign the documents remotely. As with contact-free test drives, a number of dealers and manufacturers allow customers to sign the paperwork remotely. Buyers can sign the sales contract, finance agreement, and related documents online or by other contact-free methods, eliminating the need to go to the dealer to do so.

Take delivery at home. Even before the pandemic, a number of dealers and manufacturers offered some form of home delivery of vehicles.  GM, for example, launched its “Shop. Click. Drive.” program several years ago.  The program allows for contact-free car sales through participating dealers.  Audi, Ford, Chrysler, and Honda, among others, have implemented similar programs. Other dealers and automakers may offer home delivery on a more limited basis. Therefore, buyers should check with their local dealers to see if home delivery is an option.   

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