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23 Apr 2021
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

How to buy or sell a car safely during the pandemic

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Person looking at a car online

Has your car given up on you? Luckily you can still buy one safely. We look at this, and how to sell your car during the pandemic.

Retail has opened up again, so you can visit your dealership to view cars.

But before you go, keep in mind that social distancing measures will still apply and you may have to book an appointment.

You can still sell your car too, but there are added precautions to consider before you do. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

 

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Lockdown restrictions are changing frequently, and rules differ between each country in the UK. For the latest advice, visit the government websites for England, Scotland and Wales. If you, or a member of your family is experiencing coronavirus symptoms, you should self-isolate for 10 days.

 

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Buying a car during lockdown

 

Can I buy a car from a dealership? 

Most dealerships are now open to the public in England, Scotland and Wales but you might have to book an appointment before you go.

Social distancing measures should be in place at every dealership, and everyone should be wearing masks - unless you're exempt for medical reasons. 

Before you visit your dealership, make sure you check their website to see what measures they're putting in place to keep you safe. 

If you don't want to visit the dealership, they may still offer virtual viewings using video to explain a car’s key features. 

If you like a car you see online, you should be able to buy it using a click-and-collect service. Some dealerships will even deliver to your home. 

 

Can I test drive the car? 

Some dealerships are offering unaccompanied test drives - which is a relief for those who want to try the car before they buy it.

If you're not comfortable with this, some dealerships offer virtual test drives so you can see how the car handles when driven. 

Another feature dealerships might offer is a seven-day trial. If you don’t like the car for whatever reason, you can return it to the dealer within seven days. 

If there’s a problem, you should be able to get it repaired or get a refund. 

 

How will they keep me safe in the dealership? 

Dealerships should be following government guidelines to keep you safe.

If you’re concerned, it’s worth calling your dealer before you buy your car to see what measures they’re putting in place.

 

Can I buy a car from a private seller?  

We should all be practicing social distancing to limit the spread of coronavirus. So, if you're going to a private seller you should make sure you're keeping your distance and wearing a mask.

The seller should’ve cleaned the car thoroughly before selling it to you too. 

It could be difficult to test drive the car, as the seller may not be able to accompany you. This adds an extra level of risk. 

Unlike the dealerships, a private seller probably won’t offer you a seven-day trial period. So, it’s another gamble if you buy it straight away. 

Rules and restrictions vary between each country within the UK. It’s worth checking your local advice, perhaps by contacting your council, before you take a trip to purchase a car. 

 

Can I still get car finance? 

You can still get car finance, but you might have fewer options than usual. 

But if you’ve compared finance deals with us, you might find that you get a decent interest rate.This is because the Bank of England base rate is low at the minute. 

 

Is there any help available if I’m struggling to pay my car finance? 

If you’re struggling to pay your car finance, contact your lender as soon as you can.

They may be able to offer you a payment holiday or even reduce your monthly payments. 

This should only be used as a last resort though, as it’s likely the interest payment will rise as a result. 

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Impact on drivers and car insurance

 

Selling a car during lockdown

 

Can I sell my car during lockdown? 

Most dealerships are still taking in used cars. You can even sell your car through us.

Each dealership is different, but most offer a ‘click and drop’ service.

Here, you drop your car off at the dealership with the accompanying documents. If everything is in order they’ll carry on with the transaction. 

Make sure you take a mask with you and follow any rules they have in place. 

 

Can I sell my car privately? 

As mentioned, this is a grey area. But it’s best that we all limit contact with others as much as we can. 

Because of social distancing measures, you won’t be able to accompany your buyer for a test drive. You’ll also need to be sure that you stick to social distancing measures during the viewing. 

Taking it to a used car dealer is a good alternative.

For everything you need to know about selling your car after restrictions end read our guide on preparing your car for selling.

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