How to Buy a Car During COVID-19

The ever-changing reality that is COVID-19 has altered the face of car buying for the foreseeable future. Buyers are entering uncharted territory as they attempt to secure keys to their new ride. Social distancing requirements have made it more challenging to walk into a dealership and drive off in a new car. But this doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t buy a car during the coronavirus pandemic. In fact, now might be one of the best times in recent years to buy a car.

What Should Car Buyers Expect?

 According to, new car and truck sales1 are at a 30-year low. To make up for lost profits, dealers are offering a variety of buyer incentives, markdowns and flexible financing options. Dealers may be willing to:

  • Reduce the manufacturer suggested retail price
  • Like SchoolsFirst FCU2, some dealers offer various payment options, such as no payments for 90 days
  • Negotiate upgrades
  • Include free additional services for a limited time, such as oil and filter changes or car washes for a year

Under normal conditions, vehicle manufacturers and dealers are eager to move inventory to make way for next year’s models. But, during COVID-19, expect to see a variety of creative deals to gain your business.

If you plan on buying your next car from a dealer, expect to do most of your shopping online. Dealers are attempting to minimize contact by completing as much, if not all, of the sale remotely. This might include communication via email, text, phone and video. The goal is to reduce the time you actually spend at the dealership.

You should still test drive any vehicle you might purchase. Request a “remote test drive” to ensure the car rides the way you expect and lives up to its video, photos and written description. Some dealers may drop the car off and allow you to test drive it without a salesperson in the vehicle. Vehicle home deliveries help support social distancing restrictions. Procedures will vary by dealer as some were already using this sales model before COVID-19.

 Car Buyers Should Be Prepared To:

Make appointments instead of making impromptu visits to local dealerships

  • Perform vehicle research online
  • Know what you want in a vehicle before you shop
  • Use disinfectant wipes to wipe down the door handle, gear shift, and steering wheel before each test drive
  • Test drive the car alone since some dealers may not allow other adults or children in the vehicle
  • Wear a face mask during the test drive or during any interaction with sales staff

Are These Deals Too Good To Be True?

Being smart with your finances means understanding the numbers behind auto industry incentives and promotions. Determining whether a deal will actually cost you money long-term requires you to evaluate your current and projected financial situation. Here are a few questions to get you started:

  • Is buying a car at a 0% APR influencing me to select a more expensive vehicle?
  • Do I understand the financing details?
  • Did I read the fine print?
  • How long do I expect to keep the vehicle?

Buying a car during COVID-19 is not only possible, but might be one of the smartest financial moves you make this year.

 Car Buying? We Can Help

We can help make your car buying experience simple and stress free. Whether you’re on a budget, want a convenient one-stop shop, or just want a great deal, we have solutions to fit your needs.2 Learn more



1.When you click on external links, you are linking to alternate websites not operated by SchoolsFirst FCU, and SchoolsFirst FCU is not responsible for the content of the alternate websites. The fact that there is a link from SchoolsFirst FCU’s website to an alternate website does not constitute endorsement of any product, service, or organization. SchoolsFirst FCU does not represent either you or the website operator if you enter into a transaction. Privacy and security policies may differ from those practiced by SchoolsFirst FCU, and you should review the alternate website’s policies. 2. All loans are subject to approval.

Extra Credit provides general information to help improve our Member’s financial lives. Every situation is different, so please contact us for guidance on your specific needs. The advice provided in Extra Credit is not intended to serve as a substitute for speaking to a loan representative, financial advisor, or GreenPath Financial Wellness counselor who can help tailor a solution for you.

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