Is Now a Good Time to Buy a Car?

Have you seen advertisements for new cars lately? They are likely to have attractive prices and generous funding options. This is not because of the dramatic change in the mindset of automakers; trust me, they still want to make a profit. Cars are cheap now because people are staying at home due to the coronavirus , and they may not be sticking to a plan to buy a new car.

Auto sales are down about 35 percent from a year ago, the lowest since the recession 10 years ago. And we’re still in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, which means consumer uncertainty about jobs and financial stability is unlikely to lead to “normal” car purchases anytime soon.

Car manufacturers and dealerships offer many suggestions to try and convince you to buy a car right now. And even if car dealerships are not technically open to the public, there are still options for buying a car.

So how good are the prices?

Well, they’re not quite as exciting yet – at least if you are only focusing on price. You may be getting a better exchange deal than usual right now, or you may find it easier to negotiate a lower-window car price.

But the real draw: funding offers.

“We’ve seen a wide variety of vendors offering financial assistance to buyers, from 0% financing to deferred payments,” said Karl Brower, executive publisher of Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book .

Brower said the purchase should not be considered just for the sake of the deal. But if you are looking to buy a new car, he said the incentives for buyers are “exceptional” right now. “Zero financing for six or seven years gives real money savings, and delaying the first payment by 60 or 90 days at zero interest rate increases the savings,” he said. Several automakers, such as Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Kia, offer both incentives at once, Brower said.

The best thing about buying now? You can do the most of this from the comfort of your own home. You should still test drive the vehicle while continuing to practice responsible physical distancing, Brower said. (Dealerships that offer home test drives and drop-offs regularly disinfect vehicles.) “All other components of buying a car can now be done online, including financing, insurance, and even signing the final paperwork. Consumers need to be able to find a dealer offering all of these services. ”

As always, be sure to do your research before deciding to buy. Edmunds , Autotrader, and Consumer Reports offer many ratings and reviews, and our friends at Jalopnik always have good advice. The Kelley Blue Book monitors automakers’ financial incentives and payment assistance programs.

One small plus during these tough times: carmakers and dealerships are unlikely to ditch their digital sales tools after the pandemic, which means you may have to spend less time in the parking lot the next time you’re ready to buy.

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