How to Buy a Car During COVID

By Alexi Falson on 25 Jan 2022
image for How to Buy a Car During COVID Like many other aspects of our daily lives, the process of buying a car online and test driving it for the first time has been made problematic by the coronavirus pandemic.

To make things more complicated, the automotive industry as a whole has been impacted by the pandemic, with supply chain disruptions continuing and a semiconductor shortage leading to production delays and long waiting lists for new vehicles to arrive. 

In light of these changing market forces, we thought it would be worthwhile to take a step back, and look at how you can buy a car, either online or through a dealership or organise a test drive online in the most streamlined process. While COVID has no doubt made the process of buying a new car a more difficult task, as you’ll soon discover, there are a number of strategies and new services that can take the hassle out of the process and secure your dream car at the best possible price. 

Safe Buying: How to Buy a Car Remotely

In the wake of state and city-wide lockdowns, car manufacturers have adapted the way in which they sell cars to the buying public. These manufacturers have, in recent months, accelerated their online sales divisions, which connect prospective buyers with their dream car. This means that in a number of cases, you can find your vehicle and organise a test-drive with the click of a few buttons. If you’re looking to buy a car remotely, it’s important that you take a few factors into consideration. 

First, you want to do your research and make sure that you’re aware of all the options on the market. We’d encourage you to take a look at reviews published by independent automotive journalists with no ties to manufacturers, like OnlineAuto’s Review platform. These reviews will give you an idea of a manufacturer’s retail price, which you can leverage as you negotiate prices. Next up, get in contact with either the private seller or the dealership to organise an inspection, or test-drive. If everything is above board, here, it’s time to organise your finance options. 

Remote Buying and Contactless Delivery

As we’ve discovered, the process of buying a car online is a remarkably simple one, so long as you’ve done your research and been able to organise a test-drive to ensure the vehicle suits your needs. When it comes to remote buying and organising delivery, major manufacturers still offer contactless delivery to ensure they’re COVID-safe. This means that almost every major manufacturer selling new cars in Australia can organise a way to facilitate contactless delivery for your new vehicle that would have been sanitised moments before you pick it up. 

Can I Test Drive a Car? 

So long as your local government area is not in a lockdown, you are encouraged to organise a test-drive of your potential new car. Test drives are a great experience to feel how comfortable a car’s ride quality is, and get a first-hand look at how practical the interior is for you and your family, if applicable. Keep in mind that the process of test driving should not be a short or rushed one. You are well within your rights to take the vehicle for at least a thirty-minute drive, and if the dealer is telling you otherwise, you should remind them of the fact you’re making a potentially huge purchase and need more than a trip around the block to make your decision. We’d recommend you spend anywhere between 30-minutes to one-hour with your test vehicle to take in the finer details of the driving quality, interior packaging, entertainment and safety features. 

Will a Dealer Bring a Car to Me to Test Drive or For Delivery? 

Typically, dealerships run on a business model that requests you, the customer, approach them to test drive a vehicle. While a number of the more premium manufacturers are happy to organise a way to deliver you a vehicle to test, the more affordable mainstream manufacturers will ask you to visit one of their dealerships to organise a test drive. While this phenomenon is changing, it’s likely that the dealership will ask you to come to them before you can test drive a new vehicle. 

This is one of the major advantages of OnlineAuto’s Car Buying Service, which not only connects you with a team of car-buying experts to find your perfect vehicle, we’ll help organise a test drive online that is delivered to your front door, or your workplace for one of the most convenient test drives available in Australia. Within hours, you’ll have multiple quotes sent directly to you for you to compare and find the perfect car, on your own terms. 

Will the Pandemic Impact Waiting Lists and Delivery Times for New Cars? 

Unfortunately, the pandemic has had a huge impact on waiting lists and delivery times for new cars both here in Australia and around the globe. Some of the most popular cars here in Australia have seen waiting lists stretch out to anywhere between three-and-six months. We’ve covered this exact topic in a previous article on our news page, which gives you tips on how to avoid waitlists and find your new car as easily as possible. 

Will There be Better Deals on New Cars? 

There will absolutely be better deals on new cars in the medium-term future. The problem for Australian buyers looking at the market right now, though, is that supply chain shortages and pandemic-related disruptions have caused prices for some vehicles to jump in the short-term. There is a simple law in economics that states when supply is low and demand is high, prices tend to move north. As a result, Australia’s car market is experiencing some short-term shortages for more popular vehicles, as manufacturers struggle to catch up with previous delivery numbers. As we move further into the future, though, manufacturers will have no problem returning to their pre-pandemic production numbers, which is when we’re likely to see more competitive pricing from manufacturers and shorter wait lists than what we’ve witnessed over the past 12-months. 

Keep in mind that finding a good deal on a vehicle is still very much possible here in Australia, particularly as manufacturers move to ditch last year’s stock in favour of the latest models. More often than not, the latest models offer only a handful of improvements over the previous year, which means you can potentially save yourself thousands opting for a vehicle featured in something like a plate clearance sale. Remember that OnlineAuto has a team of car buying experts that can help find these deals for you, so don’t hesitate to reach out and get a hassle-free quote on your dream vehicle. 

Are Car Dealerships Open for Business? 

If your region is not under any public health orders or lockdown measures, car dealerships in your immediate area will absolutely be open for business. If, however, new lockdown measures come into effect, these dealerships might have to temporarily close their doors to customers to avoid the spread of the virus. As a result, the process of finding your car online, comparing quotes, organising a test drive and then securing finance is best facilitated by an online platform like OnlineAuto’s car-buying service that is less likely to be directly impacted, offering you more confidence and flexibility in difficult times. 

Is it Safe to Visit a Car Yard or Showroom?

Car dealerships and showrooms, so long as they meet the government’s COVID guidelines, are a perfectly safe place to inspect your new vehicle. They are, however, more likely to be locked down in the event of changing health advice, which means there’s no guarantee they’ll be open and able to receive customers when you’re ready to buy. The easiest way to check whether a dealership or showroom you’re visiting is safe is to verify their COVID-safe accreditation at the entry of the premises. 

Or, if you want someone else to do all the hard work for you, get in touch with one of the car buying experts. We will secure you a great deal and even get your new car delivered to your door, with a full tank of fuel.


Alexi Falson

Alexi is an automotive journalist and road tester hailing from Byron Bay. He has an affection for both cars and motorbikes, a great admiration for the simplicity of old-school engineering, and a fascination of new technology making its way to modern cars. When he's not road testing, you'll find him surfing, hiking or helping people find their dream cars.

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