Retailers in every category have adjusted their business practices to provide a safer shopping experience for customers. Car dealerships are no different. From reducing building capacity to sterilizing touchpoints, most dealers around the country are finding ways to make physical car shopping safer during the pandemic. Many dealerships are also emphasizing remote shopping for as much of the transaction as possible. This naturally varies from dealership to dealership.
If you’re looking for tips on how to stay safe as you look for a new car during Covid-19, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to keep yourself safe while you shop.
The first step to buying a car is always research. Researching online gives you the best opportunity to see what’s out there and compare it from the comfort of your own home. It’s even more important now as it reduces the time you might spend at the dealership looking at different vehicles. There are several indispensable tools for researching online, including the following:
– Brand websites that allow you to compare, accessorize and find local inventory
– Auto review sites that break down vehicle pros and cons
– Kelley Blue Book that allows you to find out the market value for used vehicles
Once you find a vehicle or vehicles that you’re interested in, you can start searching local inventories to find dealerships that have your car.
Negotiate and Finance Online
To further minimize your physical time at a car dealership, you can generally contact the Internet Manager of a dealership to get a quote and start negotiating. Many dealerships also offer a link on their websites to fill out information for financing as well. It’s always a good idea to get multiple financing options to snag the best rate. The following are places to look for auto financing:
- Your local credit union
- Big national banks
- Online auto financing sites
If you have a trade-in, you’ll need to value it first through tools like Kelley Blue Book, or innovative new tools like TEXTiUM Instant Trade Values, where you can get your car’s trade value range, instantly, via text message. You can also attempt to sell it privately, but that may be more difficult now than in times past. More likely, you’ll need to make an appointment with your chosen dealership to have the vehicle appraised and an offer made. This is one of the few parts of the car-buying process that often still needs to be done in-person.
At some point, you’ll also want to take a test-drive of your chosen vehicle. This is a very important step that should not be skipped. Even though this is an in-person activity, there are various ways you and the dealership can make it safer. In most cases, you’ll probably have to make an appointment for the test drive as many dealerships are limiting capacity. Most dealerships publicize new safety measures like sanitizing common touchpoints in cars and in the dealership itself. Salespeople and staff are generally required to wear masks as well. Keep yourself safe during the test-drive with the following tips:
– Wear a mask and gloves when interacting with the vehicle and salespeople
– Make an appointment
– Practice social distancing when visiting the dealership
– Dispose of your gloves before touching your vehicle when you leave
Signing Paperwork and Taking Delivery
The final part of completing a car transaction is to sign all the paperwork and take delivery of the vehicle. You will likely need to visit the dealership for this as well. Unless you need time to think about it after test driving, you can usually do this part right afterward. Provided you’ve negotiated the deal previously through a remote method, you only need to look over the paperwork to make sure it’s what you agreed to and then sign.
Once again, most dealerships are taking precautions by providing sanitizer, gloves, masks, and new pens to their customers. When you return home with your vehicle, you use a disinfectant spray to sanitize common touchpoints and upholstery if necessary.
Can You Buy Entirely Online?
Just as many retailers are offering curbside pickup and delivery, many car dealerships have also started shifting towards providing a variety of remote services. Some dealerships make it possible for you to complete your entire transaction online and have the car delivered to your house. An incredibly safe way to shop for a car right now is to buy online. Now, we're not talking about just doing your research online and negotiating a price with an Internet Manager on a local dealer's website. We're talking about completely buying your new or used car online, start to finish, similar to buying something on an app.
Not every dealer truly offers this option, so you'll need to find one that does and is experienced in it. In the Midwest, a highly-respected, high-volume car dealer that specializes in selling cars online is AutoCenters Nissan, near St. Louis, MO.
Wil Lickenbrock, Operations Manager of AutoCenters Nissan has this to say:
The first thing I recommend to folks looking to buy online is to find the right dealership. Do they move at the pace you move at? Do they understand the reasons you’re choosing to buy online in the first place? Do they respect, and work with that? Maybe that means getting it done quicker, or more transparency, or now especially, limiting the need for face to face contact. No matter your reasons for wanting to buy online, a local dealer that is having success in online sales, like our dealership, is succeeding for a reason, and that’s because we’ve adapted for our customers.
AutoCenters Nissan offers a fully online car-buying experience with buying tools like the following:
– Trade or Sell your car
Simply select where you want to start and proceed from there. If you are unsure of where to start, you can enlist the help of a salesperson by activating chat or text. Here's how the process works:
– Shop our full inventory online with access to the best pricing and payment options
– Apply for a line of secure credit or see credit score with no SSN needed to work your payments
– See additional Service Packages and Warranty options available
– Upload or otherwise provide documents for approvals
– Make a Secured Down Payment
– Staff is available to assist at any point along the way
– Pricing or Payment Questions / Request
– We will deliver vehicles and complete transaction up to 50 miles from the dealership
– All deals can be completed remotely except for a few items
– Most paperwork can be completed electronically save for some carbon copy legal documents that require physical signatures
You will have a dedicated Product Specialist to help along the way who will practice social distancing and wear a mask when coming to your house and/or when arriving to take delivery at the dealership.
If you're in the market for a new or used car, but Covid-19 has made you hesitant, get in touch with AutoCenters Nissan today and let us streamline a safer buying process.