6 Tips for Car Shopping During COVID

car shopping during covidThings have changed a lot in the last few years. A global pandemic will do that. It’s impacted every aspect of our lives, including buying a car. With lockdowns – not just here, but everywhere – and major supply chain disruptions, it’s a whole new world out there for car buyers. So, when you need to purchase a vehicle, what’s the best way to go about it? What’s changed? We’re here to help with some great tips for car shopping during COVID.

Buying a Car in 2022

If you’ve been paying any attention to the news, you likely already know about the computer chip shortage and how it’s impacted the supply of brand new cars on dealer lots. While this supply chain crisis is winding down, the impact will still be felt throughout 2022. 

It’s also important to note that some of the impacts weren’t exactly unwelcome for automakers. Tighter supplies meant increasing prices and less negotiation wiggle room. In fact, the CEO of Ford Motor has said that keeping limited inventories will simplify the market and that he wants to move Ford toward an order-based system versus buying from a dealership.

So, if you need a new car, what steps should you take and what do you need to know?

  1. One thing hasn’t changed – you need to do your research. Make sure you find a model or two that will match your needs, your lifestyle, and your budget. Be sure to check out reliable rankings and reviews.
  2. Get pre-approved for a loan. If you don’t have mountains of cash at your disposal, and you’ll need financing, get your auto loan squared away before car shopping. With limited inventories, you’ll likely need to move fast when you find the car you want, so having a pre-approval is a must. 
  3. The best incentives will be on older, in-stock vehicles. Current models will be in shorter supply and therefore, marked up with no options for wheeling and dealing.
  4. Used cars are much more readily available. And although COVID-related hangups did inflate used-car prices, new data shows that they’re beginning to drop. That means negotiating a better price on a certified used vehicle should definitely be on the table.
  5. Trading in? Dealerships are desperate for inventory, so you can likely get a great offer on your oldie-but-a-goodie. However, make sure it’s cleaned up and you have all its paperwork ready before heading to the dealer. Otherwise, you may miss out on your new car while waiting on your title to come in.
  6. Shop around. Look at a variety of dealers, even if they’re not so close to home. This will give you a greater chance of finding the car you want at a price you can afford. You may even consider looking at private parties, especially if you’re open to purchasing a used vehicle.

💡Pro tip #1: If you go the used-car route, ask for an independent inspection. This may be trickier in the COVID-era depending on where you’re buying your car from, but it is definitely worth it for peace of mind before signing on the dotted line.💡

What Else has Changed for Car Shopping During COVID?

Just like almost everyone else, car dealers are adjusting by integrating and optimizing digital tools. The purpose of these tools is making it easier for you to shop and purchase a vehicle from the comfort of your home. Here are some features that have grown in use over the last few years:

  • Video walkarounds: You can take a virtual walk around a car via digital tools available on sites like KBB.com.
  • Virtual test drives: These put you in the digital driver’s seat, so you can get a sense of how it feels to drive the car, truck, or SUV.
  • Online estimates for trade-ins: Especially with the elevated demand for used cars, this feature is now widely implemented and used.
  • Test drives at home: Area dealers may offer this very convenient service – dropping off your car of choice at your house and letting you take it for a spin.
  • Home delivery: A recent Cars.com survey found that 1 in 5 car buyers utilized this option. Over half of auto dealers are now offering this service.

💡Pro tip #2: It is important to ask about dealers’ return policies, especially if you opt-in for virtual walkarounds, virtual test drives, and/or home deliveries.💡


When you’re preparing for car shopping, remember loan pre-approval is highly recommended. You’ll always get better rates and better service when going through Members 1st of NJ  Federal Credit Union for auto loans

We offer low interest rates for our members – as low as 2.25% APR (annual percentage rate) for a typical 5-year loan. We also offer extra APR discounts when buying from one of our preferred dealers. We’re ready and happy to serve you, so contact us or apply online today.