Buying, Selling, and Trading Cars During a Pandemic
by Stephanie Hart
Like most other things in our lives, the COVID-19 virus has turned the car business on its head. Now new car sales have been hot for years, right now it’s the used side of the business that’s going gangbusters. And that means more money for you if you’re trying to sell or trade-in your used car. Our Stephanie Hart has some advice on how you can cash in on those deals.
STEPHANIE HART: As a result of COVID-19 used cars are hot right now.
For one, a lot of people are still scared to take a train, a bus or even an Uber for fear of catching COVID-19.
Secondly, others who would of bought a new car now seem to want a used car because of our uncertain economy.
Combine that with the virus disrupting the supply of new vehicles, and there’s no doubt it’s a true sellers market for used cars. Used car dealerships like this one, are struggling to stock their lots.
Jim Robertson is the Used Car Director at Brown's Manassas Hyundai in Virginia.
JIM ROBERTSON: All because of COVID-19 I’m holding onto cars I’d never thought I’d keep in my life.
We are keeping cars with hundreds of thousands of miles on them and we are reconditioning them and making them good cars and people are buying them.
STEPHANIE HART: The demand for used cars is overwhelming right now. And the supply is short. That means prices are up across the board in every vehicle segment.
So if you’re considering selling your car or truck, you could make a couple thousand dollars more than you normally would pre-pandemic.
Used luxury cars and trucks may sell for even more than that. Used truck sales are up about 28-percent. Trade in values have also increased in every vehicle segment. Up anywhere from 10-20 percent.
JIM ROBERTSON: As a consumer it’s a good time to look at trading your car in. We are also buying cars out of our service department –people that come in - and we are buying cars off the street including craigslist and all the other sites.
STEPHANIE HART: Before buying or selling any car or truck, it’s smart to look at the vehicle’s history. CARFAX says it matters when it comes to your money.
EMILIE VOSS: CARFAX has a relationship with dealerships across the country. It’s also never been more important to understand vehicle history because the market history is constantly changing and vehicle history is a key factor in pricing on vehicles. So CARFAX has a pricing tool called CARFAX History-Based Value that takes into account a vehicle specific history. So whether it has one owner or damage, was it well maintained service wise. And that is combined with market value in the area of the country that you live in to give you the CARFAX History Based Value.
STEPHANIE HART: But if you do decide to buy new rather than used, that could be a smart move too.
If you trade it in or sell it, two to three years from now, it could command a higher price than normal, according to CARFAX.
That's because fewer 2020 model year cars and trucks will be made. COVID-19 forced all automakers to stop production for two months or more.
As you can imagine the Coronavirus has dramatically changed the car buying process. Many people don’t want to come to dealerships like this one to test drive a new car so dealers have had to adapt.
JIM ROBERTSON: Our salespeople, they will do a Facetime, they’ll do a video walk around, we will post them online. The test drives where it used to be a salesman always went with the customer now the customer is put in the car themselves for the test drive. Then for the off site test drives we will send a car with a chase car and we will actually leave the car with the customer sometimes overnight and sometimes for a few hours. We’ve also done a lot of off-site deliveries where people buy the car before we even get there and we just bring the paperwork.
STEPHANIE HART: But don’t get carried away. CARFAX reminds us that after you’ve studied the vehicle history report, and done a thorough test drive, you might want to go the extra mile and pay for an independent inspection.
The used car market is all the rage right now, but there’s no telling how long it will stay this way. Take advantage of it if you can, because we do know it won't last forever.