hands with gloves on, spraying a car door handle with disinfectant and wiping it with a cloth

Your vehicle has been with you through it all: bringing home your now-toddler, countless summer road trips to the shore, and most recently, shuttling bags and bags of essential groceries and home goods during your monthly pandemic supermarket runs. It’s been a V.I.P. member of your family for years, but now it’s time for an upgrade.

The current low interest rates are enticing. But like 58% of people, you’re hesitant to enter a dealership to shop for a new model because of COVID-19. Don’t fret — while many dealers have already taken critical steps to protect your health, there are other measures you and your loved ones can take to help make your shopping experience safe.

How to prepare for buying your next set of wheels:

1. Pre-shop online

Instead of walking around a car lot to find your new ride, grab your laptop (or even your phone) to find a car that meets all of your wants and needs. Shopping for a car online is becoming more commonplace, and dealers are making it easier than ever to browse their digital lots. To start, set a budget and figure out what type of make and model you’re looking for (SUV or sedan? Luxury or moderately priced?). Then cruise around various dealerships’ websites to compare models. Car reviews and sites like Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book can also help you rank your options. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, you can reach out to various dealerships to get competing bids — all from the comfort of your couch.

2. Inquire about safety precautions

It can be anxiety-inducing to go inside businesses these days. But we want to let you know that a simple phone call or email can help put your mind at ease. Reach out to any dealerships you plan to go to and ask what safety measures they are taking to prevent the spread of the virus. Trustworthy ones will share details about how they’re protecting their customers — steps which likely include social distancing, extra sanitation, and e-document signatures to help save time and limit contact.

3. Make an appointment

Pre-pandemic, you might’ve just driven around and walked into a dealership when you spotted a car you liked on the lot. But now, since you can do your browsing online, scheduling an appointment with your dealership(s) of choice is your next smart move to make. You can pick a time when traffic is light at the dealership and convenient with your schedule — simultaneously saving you time and helping you feel more comfortable during your car shopping experience.

4. Take a safer test drive

A test drive helps you get a feel for the speed and size of the car and how it handles on the road. But during the pandemic, it also exposes you to a high-touch environment since others may have been in that same vehicle. To ensure that the vehicle is clean, bring your own disinfecting wipes and clean anywhere where you will sit or touch. (The dealership might offer this service, so just ask!). While some dealers are offering test drives with no salesperson in the car, you should wear a mask, wash your hands before and after, and drive with the windows down.

5. Consider a fully digital experience

Do you feel that you’ll be safest by making a contactless car purchase? Some dealerships now allow you to buy a new model (and possibly even trade in your old one), without ever stepping foot on a car lot. With this buying option, do all your shopping on a dealer’s website and they’ll deliver the model to your doorstep. And to help make up your mind, you might even have the opportunity to have a test drive that lasts several days.

6. Think about future maintenance needs

As a car owner, it’s good to have a trustworthy service facility to visit when your vehicle needs maintenance. Many dealerships are now offering car pickup and delivery for any servicing needs — preventing you from waiting in the shop with other customers while your car is being worked on.

Between updated digital offerings and new safety protocols offered by dealerships, you can feel confident that your safety will not be compromised during the car buying process.

Visit your dealer to learn more.