The coronavirus pandemic has left many businesses closed, the economy in turmoil, and millions of people out of work. But can COVID-19 prevent you from buying a used car? That depends on where you live. Dealerships in New Jersey and Michigan have closed, while others have remained open, claiming to be essential businesses with the support of the National Automobile Dealers Association and other organizations.

Can I Still Buy a Used Car During the Outbreak?

Once again, this depends on where you live. Where used cars are being sold, dealers are offering incentives because sales were slow in March. The next several months may be a great time to get a deal but impacts on supply and demand are possible. Contact your dealership ahead of time if you’re planning to shop around.

It also depends on your own situation. You might want to wait on a used car purchase if your job is at risk. Making a purchase now can mean missing payments if you are laid off.

Reminders About Coronavirus BEFORE Hopping into a Used Car

The CDC has said the virus does not survive on surfaces for long, although NIH research has found it can last for hours to days on some materials. Be extremely careful if buying from a private party. But if you’re browsing used vehicles at a dealer, ask about their policy for keeping their cars and facilities disinfected. The virus is spread through respiratory droplets released from coughing, sneezing, or talking. CDC COVID-19 prevention guidelines call for social distancing (staying six feet apart from others), using disinfecting wipes for anything you touch, and washing your hands often.

How to Shop Safely at a Buy Here Pay Here Dealership

With lower demand, you may be able to negotiate a much lower price at this time. Shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders, however, are making things more challenging. But if you’re looking to benefit from loan deferrals, zero interest rates, and other incentives, these car-buying tips will help you take extra safety precautions:

  • Do Your Research Online: Browse vehicle inventories and read reviews on the web. Dealers also have websites you can gather information from. If you know the car you want, call and ask for the vehicle identification number (VIN), so you can get a vehicle history report.


  • Find Out How Your Local Dealership Is Working to Protect Customers: Check whether they wipe down the car you want to test drive (some even offer home delivery). Will the salesperson ride in the front seat or sit in the back or let you ride on your own? Dealership personnel should adhere to all safety guidelines, from avoiding handshakes to installing hand sanitizer stations.


  • Disinfect All Touch Points of the Vehicle: This includes the most frequently touched parts in the interior and where cough or sneeze particles are more likely to land. Wipe down the steering wheel, door handles, radio controls, turn signal stalks, shift lever, seatbelt fasteners, and window and mirror switches.


  • REMINDER: Wash Your Hands and Don’t Touch Your Face: Make sure you sanitize and/or wash your hands with soap and water to protect your health. This will protect you while used car shopping and also ensure you don’t transmit any virus at home.


  • Do the Paperwork Online: Ask the dealer if you can sign sales documents, financing paperwork, and other transaction paperwork These documents can also be sent via email, printed, signed, and returned to the dealership. If you must close on the deal in person, ask the dealership representative to wipe down the desk, and use your own pen to sign.

Get the Car Inspected by a Mechanic

A professional inspection is an important part of buying a used car. Have an independent mechanic inspect the vehicle, whether the technician visits lot or the dealer brings the vehicle to the shop. Also, make sure a new cabin air filter is installed. Although car air filters won’t trap or kill coronavirus, it doesn’t hurt to have clean air.

Do Your Used Car Shopping at Hawthorne Auto Square

At Hawthorne Auto Square, we cater to all the needs of used car buyers. Get your vehicle appraised for a trade-in or get pre-approved for financing in minutes. We have an extensive inventory of low-mileage, multi-point inspected used cars available at low prices. Learn more about our in-house Buy Here Pay Here programs, and receive help finding the car you need, by visiting us or calling 866-707-7664.