The rules and issues around the COVID-19 pandemic continue to evolve and information changes consistently. Please take note of when our content was written and always go to the sources we’ve provided for the most current guidance.
If you’re searching for a new vehicle at a dealership during this time, your experience may be a bit different from normal. To help you navigate what to expect, we’re sharing some tips on how to safely buy a vehicle during the COVID-19 pandemic that we’ve adapted from the Vehicle Sales Authority of British Columbia (VSA).
So, here are three tips for safely buying a vehicle during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Do what you can digitally:
In many cases, you can do some preliminary digital research before you meet in person, and some other parts of the transaction may be easily moved online as well.
Here are some ideas for some things that you could do virtually:
- Find out what vehicles are available.
- Do your research on the features and defects of vehicles you’re interested in ahead of time.
- Take a virtual tour of vehicles you’re interested in before you go into the dealership, or for a test drive.
- If you’re having a vehicle you purchased delivered, you can ask that the accompanying demo be done virtually as well.
- Have all your meetings over the phone or video calls.
2. If you’re going to the dealership, know what safeguards are in place:
It’s perfectly fine to call the dealership and ask what precautions are in place to protect everyone. Knowing what to expect may help if you’re feeling some anxiety as businesses begin to open. Here are some questions you may want to ask:
- How many customers are allowed inside the building at one time? Is public traffic restricted to appointments only?
- Are employees trained to self-assess for symptom screening prior to coming to work?
- Is the dealership collecting contact information for the purposes of contact tracing?
- Are frequently used areas (showrooms, restrooms, waiting areas) and surfaces (keys, vehicles, doorknobs, countertops) being disinfected regularly?
- Are there hand sanitizing stations available at the dealership?
If you’re getting a vehicle delivered, you can also ask whether the vehicle (and the keys) are being sanitized before delivery.
You can also help by following the guidelines put in place by the dealership to protect you and others, and by following recommendations from the BC CDC and other reputable sources.
3. Prepare for a test drive at a licensed dealership
- In order to meet physical distancing requirements, inquire if you can take the test drive without a salesperson present. The dealer may ask you to complete a consent form (like this example) for insurance purposes.
- Confirm with the salesperson that the vehicle is fully sanitized and disinfected prior to the test drive.
- Confirm that the vehicle is supplied with disinfectant for you to sanitize the surfaces you’ve touched after your test drive
- Provide your contact information including your email address and phone number in case contract tracing is needed
- Sanitize the surfaces you touch in the vehicle
- Receive and return the keys only after disinfecting them
This is a difficult time for consumers and retailers alike. When in doubt, your best bet is to communicate with dealerships and articulate any questions and concerns you may have. They will likely work with you to make sure they can welcome you in a way that works for everyone.
The VSA has written a helpful guide to buying a vehicle during the COVID-19 pandemic that details what to consider each step of the way.
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Look through all of our COVID-19 related information on our website.
Where do we fit in?
Yes, we are a provincial regulator. We are responsible for some very specific transactions in BC. We aren’t experts on COVID-19. We won’t – and shouldn’t – ever give medical or legal advice. But we are in a unique circumstance right now and we want to help people navigate the current reality. We don’t have all the answers, but we will do our best to share information from reliable sources, put it in ways that are easy to digest and understand, provide referrals and help you navigate this situation.
About Consumer Protection BC:
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.