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Can I Buy A Car Online to Reduce Coronavirus Exposure?

The Coronavirus pandemic has recently caused Canadian automotive dealerships to close their sales showrooms out of caution, while others have reduced their staff or hours to only their service departments. Limiting exposure and unexpected transmittal of the COVID-19 virus is on everyone’s minds, but that shouldn’t prevent shoppers from purchasing or leasing a new car, SUV or truck.


You may have already been in the market for a new vehicle, or you may just be starting the process when your daily routine was upended by working from home, self-quarantining and social distancing. The silver lining is that you may have more time to do your homework as we work to reduce the spread of Coronavirus. With the flood of incentives coming from manufacturers, perhaps there is no better time to look for that new vehicle than now. 

The great thing about laying the foundation for your purchase online is that you don’t have to venture out in public. Here are some steps that you can take using online shopping tools to reduce your exposure to Coronavirus while still buying your next car. 


How do I start? 

Sites like KBB.ca give consumers all of the data and tools they need to make an informed car-buying decision. The Coronavirus notwithstanding, a lot of these techniques should be employed by smart car buyers whenever a new vehicle is being purchased. 

By having a wealth of information on pricing, trade-in values, financing rates, and insurance costs before contacting the dealer, the buyer will have a greater sense of control. You’ll also find that having your expectations in line with market conditions makes the deal-making process more straightforward, faster and hassle-free. 

Even better, select dealerships now offer concierge services that will deliver the car to your door, in some cases virtually eliminating the need to step into a dealership. 

Here are six quick steps you can take to start shopping for a new car online today: 


1) Set a budget and research your vehicle 

How much do you want to spend on your next new or used vehicle? Be sure to come up with a total number and a monthly figure derived from the terms of your projected lease or loan term. Leave room in your payment to add sales taxes (which is the total tax divided by the loan or lease term) and monthly insurance costs to get a true look at your out-of-pocket expense. Frequently this figure will dictate the size, class, and type of vehicle you can afford. 


2) Shopping for a deal 

There are plenty of tools available that help in shopping for the best price on a new or used vehicle. At KBB.ca, you can use our Fair Market range to determine what others in your area are paying for a particular model. Car buyers can also scan the listings at KBB.ca’s Classified Services to get a better idea of their local market conditions. 

The manufacturers’ web sites are another great resource to find deals. Remember to input your postal code since sometimes factory-to-dealer incentive programs are local. By using your postal code, you’ll find these regional rebates and lease deals as well as the ability to shop inventories of local dealerships.

Don’t forget to explore other rebates and incentives offered by manufacturers for recent graduates, serving military, first responders and even Uber/Lyft drivers. 


3) Pre-qualify for a loan 

You can also use the web to avoid visits to lending institutions when loan shopping. Start first with your credit union or bank and widen your search to include large national lenders. You can pre-qualify for a loan and save it for when you’re negotiating the deal. You can use it as a starting point to see if the dealer can beat that rate. Sometimes there are specific incentives tied to the loan or lease deal if the manufacturer-based financial institution handles it. 

Another important factor is knowing your credit rating. Buyers with a higher score usually have lower rates since they offer the least risk in making a loan. 

There also may be special loan arrangements offered by manufacturers during the Coronavirus that include provisions for no-interest delayed payments if your employment is disrupted as a result of a work closure. 

A rule of thumb in taking out a loan is to put about 20 percent of the cost down, and finance for no more than four or five years. The longer the loan, the more interest you pay. Also, you don’t want to be caught “upside down” with negative equity in your car loan, where you owe more than what the car is worth on the used market. 


4)  Talk to dealers online 

Just as working from home is a smart move to reduce exposure to the virus, establishing an online relationship with the dealer is another way to limit in-person contact. Dealerships have set up departments devoted to internet sales, so take advantage of them. These sales personnel have plenty of experience of working with shoppers over the phone or through a computer and can be a tremendous asset in answering questions and laying the groundwork for a deal. 

This is another advantage of doing your research and initial negotiating online. You have a digital trail of the numbers involved, including the sales price, taxes and other fees that make up the bottom line. 


5)  Don’t limit yourself to one store 

While it’s good to establish an online relationship with a potential seller, don’t limit yourself to just one dealership. Using these car buying tools makes it easy to shop and talk to multiple stores to get the specific model you want at a price your willing to pay. A great place to start to find out the actual value of your trade-in is KBB.ca’s Used Vehicle Values. Obtaining the real value on your current vehicle gives you a floor on the price you’re willing to accept in trade. 


6) Where do I take delivery? 

Unfortunately, most new vehicle transactions require a “wet” or ink signature to close the deal. More often than not, you have to make a trip into the dealership to sign on the dotted line. The biggest advantage of doing so much of the deal online, from determining what vehicle you should buy to arranging financing and insurance, is that you will spend less time at the dealership.  Before arriving at the dealership, you should also discuss any of their on-site COVID-19 protocols to ensure the safety of both yourself and the dealership's employees. 

Some select programs that manufacturers offer include subscriptions and concierge services, where they will bring the vehicle to your door for a test drive or final vehicle delivery. Check your local dealerships to see if such services are available. 

Thanks to the shift towards digital retailing, consumers can research vehicles and deals, find financing and insurance and ultimately conduct the bulk of negotiations online. This makes for an easier, safer way to buy a new or used vehicle from the comfort and security of your home. 






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