Buying A Car Safely Online During A Global Pandemic
Car purchases are complex at the best of times – and even more nerve-wracking during a global pandemic. But prospective buyers are now replacing intensive face-to-face interactions with researching on the Internet, checking specifications and viewing inventories. Some are even moving into the sales process, all from the safety and comfort of their own homes.
Knowing that a car is a major family investment – often absorbing a solid chunk of every paycheck for years to come – smart buyers make full use of all the many online resources available to them. Here’s how to stay safe if you’re buying from a dealership:
- Pick the perfect car for your needs, looking ahead a year or more, choosing the most suitable make, model, and age (if you’re buying a used vehicle);
- Check out dealer inventories and see what’s on the market within your price range (staying flexible on colour and accessories can be a great money-saver at this stage);
- Contact the selected dealer and make sure the car is in stock, its price is within your range, and the delivery time is acceptable;
- Calculate your monthly payments through on-site tools, with all fees, taxes, loan repayments and insurance premiums included, so there are no unpleasant surprises each month;
- Schedule a no-contact test drive, to make sure the vehicle feels comfortable for you – there’s generally a no-returns policy in place for cars (except for Tesla, whose sales are 100% online);
- Confirm the sanitization protocol followed by the dealer, which should include at least antiseptic wipes and face masks;
- Opt for a CPO model if you’re buying second-hand, as Certified Pre-Owned vehicles generally offer manufacturers’ warranties that can eliminate pre-purchase inspections;
- Make a start on the paperwork, filling in as many forms as you can at home and visiting the dealership only to complete the procedure;
- Decide on the extras you want (like extended warranties) before the signing date, so you can skip sales pitches;
- Ask for your car to be delivered to your home or office, and sanitize it thoroughly before setting out for a celebration drive.
Where Live Interactions Are Still Needed
No matter how good the technology, some steps in the car purchasing process still need face-to-face contacts. Inspections and evaluations are normally required for trade-ins, although some dealers might be willing to issue blind appraisal offers based only on photographs of the odometer, VIN, interior and exterior of your current vehicle.
With a little far-sighted planning, payment and delivery can be simultaneous. Ideally, the buyer signs the loan agreements and transfer documentation while handing over a cashier’s check or making an online transfer.
Picking The Right Dealership
It´s hard for an impersonal computer screen to replace that old kicking-the-tires approach to buying a car, with a helpful salesperson nearby. However, customer-centric dealerships are striving to do just that, by adding a stack of extra features to their websites.
Look for a Best Cars page, with useful information about makes and models that will streamline your search by shortlisting the best possibilities for your personal needs – and don’t forget to think ahead a few years here!
An Inventory Showcase page quickly displays what’s available, together with suggested prices. Clicking on a convenient link often leads to a specialized calculator that computes monthly payments with all the extras included, for added confidence in your choice. Top dealerships also include loan and lease links that allow potential buyers to outline their ideal conditions and send them to the sales department for analysis.
Good Customer Care Builds Trust
Doing all this in person at a dealership can take hours of close contact, sitting across a desk. And many people still don’t feel comfortable about this, despite masks and vaccines. This is why it’s a sensible precaution to pick a dealership with all of these facilities online – because all this pre-sale care for customer health and comfort hints at outstanding after-sales services as well!
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