Can I buy a car during COVID-19?

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While most of the attention and news reports have highlighted new car showrooms and workshops being allowed to remain open as an essential service – particularly for repairs, recalls and warranty work – there has been confusion around the legalities of buying or selling used cars.

Are car dealerships open for business?

Many Australian new and used car dealerships are still open for business. Most car dealerships have responded well to the COVID-19 precautions suggested by government and many are able to provide electronic opportunities via carsales and other vendors.

Does visiting a car yard or showroom expose me to coronavirus?

There are no reasons why a visit to a showroom or car yard should expose you to any more risk of contracting COVID-19, than a trip to your local shops – but as always, it is advised to still take precautions by washing your hands and sanitising wherever possible.

However, if you have any doubts, you can always check with the dealership via telephone or email and ask what precautions they’ve taken regarding COVID-19. For those that are concerned about a lengthy visit, it’s advised that you ask for a fixed appointment time. Keep in mind that you can do a vast majority of your car research and shopping online.

Am I safe test driving a car?

While you can take a car for a test drive, it’s still important to take proper precautions. Ask the dealer what precautions they have taken to ensure the car is safe and clean. If you feel that no precautions have been taken, here are some measures you can take to minimise the risk.

  • Ideally wear gloves while test driving the vehicle
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the salesperson to stay at the dealership or failing that get them to sit in the back to observe the social distancing recommendations (do so also in the dealership)
  • Act responsibly. If you or someone in your household is feeling unwell, do not visit a dealership or arrange meetings with sellers – stay at home until you have fully recovered
  • Will a dealer bring a car to me to test drive or for delivery?

    While we can’t guarantee that all dealerships will bring your desired car for a test drive or delivery, it’s also worth asking the question. If you’re buying a car, new or used, it’s a fairly reasonable to expect it to be delivered. That is unless you live in Melbourne and are buying the car in Queensland – on that occasion you may be asked to foot the bill.

    Should I buy a car unseen?

    As always, it’s strongly recommended that you do your research first. Take a good look at the pictures that accompany the ad, and if you need more information, don’t be afraid to ask the dealer. It’s also worthwhile asking the seller for an initial inspection, or a 360-degree walk-through via video instead of a physical meet up. What’s more, dealerships also have the ability to have third-parties appraise and value your trade in.

    Will COVID-19 effect waiting lists and delivery times for new cars?

    There are no shortage of new cars for sale at Australian dealerships, right here and right now. In other cases there are long and growing waiting lists. Most, if not all European and North American plants and manufacturers have announced some form of production line stoppages or go slows. These will inevitably affect availability on popular models and will affect delivery times. COVID-19 measures have also slowed the official launch of new cars, which in some cases will also delay on sale dates. In short, ask you dealer – and if the date matters, make the purchase conditional upon a delivery date.

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