The auto industry is far from immune to the coronavirus crisis that is currently striking countries across the globe. We’ve put this article together to help local Pinellas, Florida residents navigate the potentiality of purchasing a vehicle during these tough times but please understand, we are not taking this crisis lightly by any means. We’ve laid out steps to purchase, however we also want consumers to be wise about large purchase decisions and take all possible measures to keep themselves and their families safe.
Is it fiscally wise to buy a car now?
Of course, if you are selling an expensive car to buy something with smaller payments, or no payments, you are likely doing so due to the economic fall-out. Be sure to sell as soon as possible. Otherwise, ask yourself, can I afford to buy a car right now? Will I be able to afford payments if I don’t have a job or can’t re-open my business in the next six months? Although many optimists, and even leaders are forecasting we could be coming out of this within a month, most doctors, economists and scientists agree that this could easily last 90 days and possibly even much longer. It could even have a long term, devastating effect on the economy. With that in mind, can you still afford to buy a car? If so, read on!
Is now the time to buy?
We have seen the market take a turn which means you are likely to be able to find a better deal but if you can hold out a week or two it is possible that prices go even lower. However, it’s also possible that more stringent laws come into play making it harder to legally purchase a new or used car so do your own research, check the market price of the vehicle against comparative pricing models and also check the Florida Health website https://floridahealthcovid19.gov/ to make sure you stay within the guidelines of the current laws and local ordinances during the 2020 COVID19 pandemic.
Unique New Car Incentive
If buying new, some dealerships are offering 120 day deferred payments meaning you wont have to make your first payment for up to four months.
*Pro Tip: Often times, these type of incentives require you pay the sticker price so be sure to haggle to get the best price possible and if you can afford it, pay cash up front. More information on how to get the best deal when buying a car here.
How about selling?
We’ve put together another article on just this topic. Check it out.
The Buying Process During COVID19 Pandemic
as of April 3rd, 2019 in Pinellas County, Florida
Step 1. Search online
Support your dealership
If you have a favorite dealership, look online and try to find that dealerships website. Most dealers are working hard right now to keep their inventory up to date on their websites.
How to find your dealerships website: If per-say, your favorite dealership is Lokey Volkswagen in Clearwater, simply google “Lokey Volkswagen Clearwater” and switch the results to “maps”. Then, click on the option on their listing for “website”. We recommend this method because many of the top results will be paid ads by competitor dealerships.
Best Online Car Sales Alternatives
Facebook Marketplace, Auto Trader, Cars.com and even craigslist can be great outlets to help you find the perfect car.
Step 2. Check the VIN
Acquire the vehicles VIN number and utilize a tool such as CarFax to see many important factors such as how well the car has been maintained (not always accurate), number of owners, accidents and more.
Step 3. The hard part
Now it’s time to test drive and with the current pandemic, this is going to be much more difficult then normal. Some dealerships are offering to bring a car to your home, wipe it down, and let qualified drivers test drive while they follow behind. If you are buying on the private party marketplace, you will need to do the wipe down yourself, while wearing a mask and eye protection.
*Be aware that some experts (such as the The National Institutes of Health) estimate the COVID19 virus can live on the cloth & upholstery of a vehicle for days, so you may be putting yourself at risk.
Steps you can take to minimize your exposure risk:
– We recommend that before and after the drive you wash your hands.
– As you could be a carrier it’s also wise to wear freshly washed clothing. Also wash your clothing upon returning home.
– Never touch your face during the test drive.
– If purchased, you may also want to allow your new car to sit, un-driven for a few days to minimize the likelihood of any virus reaching you by allowing it sufficient time to die.
Step 4. Title
You should have already verified that the vehicle has a clean title. Make sure the numbers on the title match the VIN on the car itself and look for the red flags.
Here’s a great article that goes more in depth on checking the validity of the car title.
OfferMORE Pro Tip: If buying on the private party marketplace (from an individual, not a dealership), insist on making the purchase at the sellers residence. Check the address on the vehicle’s title under “registered owner” against the address of the location you have met the seller. If these two do not match, it’s a red flag.
OfferMORE does not have a doctor on staff and the guidelines we are laying out in this article are simply a combination of what we have found online and our best possible theories on how to buy a car safely. Do your own research and shop at your own risk.
*If you are above the age of 65 and/or have preexisting conditions that make you more susceptible to the COVID19 virus, and/or are often in contact when anyone who is, we suggest you do not purchase a car until this pandemic has come to an end.