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Buying a car in the time of coronavirus

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Buying from a dealership during COVID-19

It’s no secret that fewer people are buying cars nowadays. There had been 23 consecutive months of falling car sales, according to data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), and COVID-19 has made this trend much much worse. The latest car sales data for March 2020 saw a near 18% decline in new car purchases from the year before (March 2019), while there was a 7.8% fall throughout 2019.

But the need to buy a new car still remains for many people. In reality, a car is a much safer version of transport than a bus or a train at the moment in terms of hygiene. With coronavirus forcing everyone to social distance, how can you safely buy a car at the moment?

Buying from a dealership during COVID-19

According to FCAI, dealerships from all brands around Australia have opted to remain open by introducing a number of safety measures, including:

  • Virtual sales and service consultations

  • Contact-free drop off and pick up of serviced vehicles

  • Contact-free delivery of vehicles for evaluation drives

  • Enhanced detailing and disinfecting practices

  • Physical distancing in sales and service facilities

FCAI says these dealerships are complying with prerequisite hygiene practices, to allow customers to purchase vehicles in a safe manner should they need to. So it is possible to safely buy a car from a dealership during COVID-19, you just have to contact them to ask if they have introduced these measures. 

Plus, with an excess of supply in new vehicles that aren’t being sold, you have greater leverage to drive a hard bargain at a dealership that’s desperate to offload models to meet sales targets. Try demanding up to 10-15% off the driveaway price, and don’t be afraid to walk out.

Buying from a private seller during COVID-19

You can also buy from a private seller, aka buy a used car. You can do this via websites, or you can meet up with someone in person. Buying from an individual buyer should be safe in terms of coronavirus as you’ll only be meeting with one or two people max, and you can even have them deliver the car to you if they’re willing. However, buying from a private seller presents its own complications.

First of all, you still need to make sure the car is unencumbered (doesn’t have any finance owing on it), as it could get repossessed if the original owner doesn’t repay the loan. Secure your purchase by factoring in the small cost of a PPSR report, which can cost as little as $2 at ppsr.gov.au. This should fill you in on all the details of the car, such as:

  • Whether it's encumbered or not

  • The make, model and year of the car

  • Whether it has been written-off

You also still need to make sure the car is the right one for you by doing your research online - that hasn’t changed. In fact, with more people looking to buy and sell cars online, it’s become more important than ever. So do make sure the car you’re looking at is legitimate, and compare it to similar listings to make sure you’re getting a good price.

Try car-sharing or car subscriptions

Car subscription services have increased in popularity lately, as they are an alternative to having a car without having to actually buy one. Instead, you get to rent a car for either an ongoing or monthly fee.

One of these companies, Popcar, has made a number of changes to make it easier for people to rent a car, including:

  • Waiving all membership fees for new and existing customers, including business customers

  • Cutting hourly and daily rates by 50%

  • Charging just $1 for signups 

"The measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are affecting everybody in unprecedented ways," Popcar Director Anthony Welsh said. 

“We recognise we have a role to play in supporting locals and businesses in our community, by providing an affordable and safe transport option to those who do not have access to their own car, or otherwise typically rely on public transport, taxi services or ride-sharing.”

But such a method isn’t for everyone, and if you do want to buy a car, new or used, then you’ll need a good home loan.

You can still get a good car loan

If you’re looking for a cheap and reliable way to afford your next car purchase, speak to one of our lending specialists or take a look at our car loan options. The good news is: We’re all online.

Compare car loans

Other helpful resources: 

Capable and fuel-efficient: Green off-road cars to look out for

What is a hybrid car and how does it work?

SUV, luxury car demand increasing

About the article

As Australia's leading online lender, loans.com.au has been helping people into their dream homes and cars for more than 10 years. Our content is written and reviewed by experienced financial experts. The information we provide is general in nature and does not take into account your personal objectives or needs. If you'd like to chat to one of our lending specialists about a home or car loan, contact us on Live Chat or by calling 13 10 90.

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