The current Corona Virus outbreak has wreaked havoc globally.
In consequence, the UK’s auto industry is one of the hardest-hit sectors. It’s facing falling demand and delayed or halted production of new cars.
So, what does the ongoing pandemic mean for the used car market in the UK, and what do you need to know as a potential buyer?
Let’s find out:
A large chunk of the UK’s population is currently in self-isolation or practicing social distancing to contain the virus spread.
This means staying home most of the time and limiting your transit and social activities. While isolation is necessary for patients of COVID-19, social distancing is recommended for everyone in general but has room for flexibility.
The latter does not imply that people are strictly bound to stay home at all times; they may continue their everyday activities, but just need to exercise caution while doing so.
Using Public Transport:
Hence, people still can go out to run important errands or visit grocery stores, but they need a reliable means of transportation.
Using public transport or even hailing a cab under current circumstances is a nightmare, having your own vehicle to stay mobile and protected at the same time.
What Do the Stats Say – Used Cars Are in High Demand
COVID-19’s fear began to spread around the UK in February, having an adverse impact on nationwide sales of new cars. A year-on-year comparison shows that the number of new cars sold in February 2020 dropped by almost 2.9%.
In the wake of this panic, carmakers like Fiat, Volkswagen Group, Vauxhall have either partially or completely shut down factories worldwide. This means potential delays in new car production and extended waiting times for customers seeking new models!
Moreover, the UK government has appealed to car manufacturers including Jaguar and Rolls-Royce to produce ventilators instead of cars. With massive nationwide disruptions in the production of new cars, potential buyers have used cars as their best option. Consequently, the prices of second-hand cars will likely go up due to an expected surge in demand.
According to a senior expert at the Autovista Group, issues in the supply of new cars often result in increased demand for used models.
Similarly, a UK forecasting expert suggests that the country’s used car market has had a good start already. During February, overall used car values increased by 1.1%. It is the highest for February since 2012, while the five-year average for February stood at 0.2%.
How is Corona Virus Outbreak Affecting Car Buying and Selling?
Car dealerships across the country need to take extra precautions these days to facilitate their customers. The option of virtually signing the documents for customers in the final stages of the purchase process is useful.
Similarly, some dealers are utilizing the virtual space to carry out operations. One such example is the British Car Auctions (BCA Group).
It has shifted its UK-wide auction sales online in view of prioritizing customers’ health and well-being. Yet another example is of UK-based platform Carwow, through which you can buy new and used cars from franchised dealers.
Carwow has recently launched remote-buying features that help minimize or even eliminate contact between buyers and other parties when buying a car.
Dealers on the carwow platform are also ensuring that their new and used car stock undergoes a cleaning and disinfection process before delivery.
You may even negotiate pricing over emails and lock-in a price without leaving your home at all. You can check which dealers have a contact-free buying process. Like e.g. offering video tours of cars, home delivery, and home test-drives among other things.
Used Car Buying Tips in The Current Situation
According to Automotive News, there is slow foot traffic even when car showrooms remain open across the UK. This is good news for buyers, as there will be little trouble following social distancing with fewer people out there.
Nonetheless, it is prudent to act with caution while interacting with dealers and salespeople. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when shopping for a used car in the current situation:-
- The home-shopping model for buying used cars is simple to follow once you have decided what you want. Search around for local dealerships that have the model you are interested in, and conduct a background check online.
Caranalytics can help in this regard; simply enter the vehicle’s registration plate number and you get an instant car check report.
The full vehicle check includes mileage history, Ministry of Transport (MOT) check, advisory and failure notices, and performance data.
This will aid you in deciding whether you should go for a particular car or keep looking.
- Ideally, under these circumstances, car dealers should follow strict disinfecting protocols for new and used car inventory. If the dealer is not cooperating, move on to another dealer rather than risking your health.
- Many dealers in the UK are now offering test drives to potential buyers without a salesperson alongside. It is worth checking with your dealer whether they are offering this. If they have no other arrangement in place for ensuring social distancing find another dealer.
- Before purchase, it is usually important to have an independent mechanic to inspect the car. The same precautions apply here, if you have sufficient expertise and if you can easily inspect it yourself. Otherwise, it is a good idea to check for and call on a mobile inspection service for this.
- When buying the car, insist on having the relevant paperwork sent to you over e-mail. Also, try to do all financial transactions online instead of dealing with cash or cheques. Receive the contract in an e-mail before you set out to meet the dealer in person.
- Read all the terms and conditions of the contract beforehand rather than at the time of signing. This will minimize your time spent with the dealer, and you won’t have to rush through the contract, as well. Take your time going through all the points and be prepared in advance to avoid any last-minute surprises.
Are Private Sellers a Good Option?
A downside to buying from private sellers is that you have no way of ensuring the car’s cleanliness.
Also, the number of potential buyers who sat is not known. However, you can still take the same precautions we discussed above when dealing with private sellers.
Always wipe the surface yourself while going for an inspection, or move to another one if dealer resists.
Secondly, private sellers may not be able to offer options like online paperwork or payments. Under current circumstances choose online banking options. Cash dealing could lead to the spread of the virus in the current situation.
With that said, personal well-being, and a quicker buying process should take precedence over everything when buying a car in the present scenario.
Hence, it is a good time to turn to used car dealers during this Corona Virus outbreak. It ensures a hassle-free buying process.