You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Is now a good time to buy a car?

Lifehacker logo Lifehacker 4/3/2020 Lisa Rowan

car dealer © Thinkstock  

Seen any advertisements for new cars lately? They probably feature attractive prices and generous financing options. It’s not due to a dramatic change of heart by automakers; trust me, they still want to make a profit. Cars are cheap now because the coronavirus is keeping people at home—and holding off on the plan they may have had to buy a new car.

Car sales are down about 35 percent compared to this time last year—the lowest they’ve dropped since the recession 10 years ago. And we’re still in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, meaning consumer uncertainty about employment and financial stability isn’t likely to lead to “normal” car buying anytime soon.

Car manufacturers and dealerships are offering myriad deals to try to entice you to buy a car at this time. And even if showrooms aren’t technically open to the public for browsing, there are still options for buying a car.

Why You Still Need to Drive Your Car a Little if You're Quarantined

So how good are the prices?

Well, they’re not so exciting yet—at least, if you’re going by the price tag alone. You might get a better deal right now for your trade-in than usual, or you might find it’s easier to negotiate down from the window price on a car.

Related video: 5 things to remember before buying a car (provided by GoBankingRates)

UP NEXT
UP NEXT

But the real draw: the financing offers.

“We’ve seen a wide range of manufacturers offering financial assistance to buyers, ranging from 0% financing to deferred payments,” said Karl Brauer, executive publisher for Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book.

Brauer said it’s not worth considering buying just for the sake of a deal. But if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, he said the incentives for buyers are “exceptional” right now. “Zero percent financing for six or seven years adds up to real money savings, and deferring the first payment for 60 or 90 days with 0% interest adds to the savings,” he said. Some automakers, like Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen and Kia are offering both incentives at once, Brauer noted.

Should I Repair or Just Replace My Old Car?

The best part about buying right now? You can do most of it from the comfort of your own home. You should still test-drive the vehicle, Brauer said, while still practicing responsible physical distancing. (Dealerships offering home test drives and drop-offs are sanitizing cars regularly.) “Every other component in buying a car can now be done online, including financing, insurance and even signing the final paperwork. Consumers should be able to find a dealer offering all of these services.”

As always, make sure you do your research before you decide to buy. Edmunds, Autotrader and Consumer Reports offer plenty of ratings and reviews, and our friends at Jalopnik always have good advice. Kelley Blue Book is keeping tabs on automakers’ financing incentives and payment assistance programs.

One small upside of these difficult times: Automakers and dealerships aren’t likely to abandon their digital sales tools after the pandemic, which mean you’ll probably need to spend less time at the car lot the next time you’re ready to buy.

AdChoices
AdChoices
AdChoices

More from Lifehacker

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon