The old model of buying a car—parking yourself at the dealership, test-driving a few models, haggling over a desk—isn't viable in this new era of social distancing and extreme hygiene. But people still need to purchase cars. Here's how to shop for your next ride online or in person.
1. Do your homework.
Research and compare cars online. With enough at-home legwork, you may never even have to step onto the sales floor. To narrow your options, consult the AAA Car Guide. (This year's top pick is the 2020 Volvo S90 T8 eAWD R-Design, a plug-in hybrid.) "Buyers may not have experienced the latest technology for themselves," says Bryan Steward, general manager of AAA AutoSource (a buying service available in Oregon). "The AAA Car Guide can point them in the right direction."
Many dealerships and online car buying resources let you compare vehicles, review car history reports, take virtual showroom tours with 360-degree views, apply for financing, order an inspection, get a trade-in appraised, and negotiate, all without leaving your home.
If you're planning on taking out a loan for the purchase, get pre-approved through the dealership or your financial institution.