Is It Safe to Test Drive a Car in the Pandemic?

September 27, 2021

Is It Safe to Test Drive a Car in the Pandemic?

Australian car sales are still going strong. Still, do you think car dealerships disinfect vehicles before and after your visit?

Most people haven’t thought about this point pre-pandemic. Now, however, it’s a very valid concern.

You may prefer to buy your vehicle from a dealership rather than a private seller. Even so, you might have concerns about COVID-19. Here, we’ll have a look look at the steps Australian car dealerships take to ensure the safety of their staff, customers, and cars.

Keep reading for a brief overview of the car dealership disinfecting process.

Car Buying Post-Pandemic

It’s never been easier to buy a car—even with bad credit. Still, you may have worries about encountering the coronavirus, and that’s a valid concern.

Hopefully, the days of wearing PPE will eventually become a distant memory. Even then, however, it will take a long time for us to forget about the danger of threats like COVID-19. Presently, this stark wake-up call has changed the way that customers and car dealers interact with vehicle inventory.

Now, all businesses disinfect common surfaces. However, cleaning mobile inventory—like cars—is a different matter. Car dealers have the added responsibility of managing goods that move and compose a considerable threat to public health if not sanitised appropriately.

Dealers Taking Measures To Protect Buyers

Car dealers must think about the safety of customers that test drive, sit in, and receive their vehicles. They must make sure that their inventory doesn’t serve as a potential carrier of COVID-19. This task requires more work than giving their cars a quick spray with Lysol.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a list of viable COVID-19 disinfectants. Any disinfectant used by car dealers must meet the EPA’s guidelines for combating the coronavirus.

Various industry associations share this information with their constituents. In the automotive industry, that association is the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA).

The Challenge With Moving Inventory

Cars move from time to time. Moving targets are challenging to sanitise. What’s more, vehicle inventory will become even more mobile as state lockdown rules get relaxed.

In a perfect world, car dealers would sanitise every vehicle if someone so much as touches it. Of course, this incredible feat is impossible.

As a real-world solution, car dealers educate their staff members about the importance of vehicle sanitisation. Also, dealers are taking aggressive measures to make sure that their vehicles stay safe.

Car Dealers Are Stepping Up

Responsible car dealers use the same cleaning process for all their vehicles. They also use procedures to clearly indicate which vehicles need sanitisation, such as leaving oversized signage on vehicle dashboards.

Dealers use a strong disinfectant and disposable towels to sanitise vehicle interiors. It may take about five minutes to sanitise an unsold vehicle. However, a car detailer will spend much more time cleaning and sanitising a trade-in before it’s allowed to enter a dealer’s inventory.

NAPA guidelines outline hotspots for disinfecting vehicles. For both new stock and trade-ins, dealership employees focus on sanitising interior hotspots according to these guidelines.

Ford’s New Sanitising Policies

Car manufacturers in Australia, like Ford, are also during their part to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The company has launched a preventative service aimed at giving its customers peace of mind.

Now, Ford dealers offer the Pick Up and Drop-Off Service for essential vehicle travel. The program emphasises the vehicle disinfecting process.

Pick Up and Drop-Off Service is complimentary. Ford offers to its customers whose vehicles need servicing or warranty repair while the pandemic is still active.

Steps in the Disinfecting Process

Here’s where Ford’s new Pick Up and Drop-Off Service gets interesting. The service includes a standardised sanitisation process.

Ford dealerships sanitise the interior and exterior of vehicles thoroughly. What’s of particular interest here is the disinfection of key touchpoints. These touchpoints include the:

• Airbag
• Bonnet and latch
• Center console
• Door handles (interior and exterior)
• Driver armrest
• Driver centre console
• Fuel door
• Gear shifter or selector
• HVAC areas
• Ignition button
• Key fob
• Parking brake handle
• Radio
• Rear boot lid, button and handle
• Rearview mirror
• Seat belt buckle and anchor
• Steering wheel and buttons
• Touchscreen
• Window, seat and mirror controls

In line with NADA recommendations, Ford compels its dealerships to use alcohol-based cleaners to sanitise vehicles. Ford dealerships quickly and thoroughly sanitise car surfaces without damaging vehicle components.

Car Buying Today

Indeed, Australia’s car dealerships are still open for business—even in the face of the pandemic. What’s more, plenty of consumers are patronising them.

A considerable percentage of Australian consumers plan to buy a car. More than half of those individuals plan to do so within the next four weeks. So far, car dealerships have done a fantastic job of following government and industry recommendations for safe operation.

They’re also taking advantage of technology to give consumers alternatives for starting the process of finding the perfect vehicle. Consumers can now view thousands of vehicles online before taking a trip to the dealership.

Car Buying Safety

With COVID-19’s potential for harm, it makes sense to want to exercise caution. However, it’s important to realise that a trip to the dealership doesn’t pose any more risk than a day on the job.

With precautions, it’s safe to work. The same concept applies to going to a car dealership.

If you need reassurances, you can call or email a dealership to ask about their sanitisation policies. You can also reduce the time that you must spend outside of your home by arranging a sales appointment.

If you want to minimise contact with others as much as possible, you can start your research and shopping online. There are plenty of new and used car buying guides and reviews for you to browse.

Reducing Pre-Sale Contact

When shopping for a car, you can reduce pre-sale contact with a few simple tips. To start, you might ask a dealer about video demonstrations instead of going to the lot to have a salesperson walk you through the features of a car.

You can also find out if a dealer will accept credit card payments for the deposit. Also, you’ll want to confirm the dealer’s vehicle sanitation practices.

Once you’ve confirmed the dealer’s vehicles have been sanitised, you can ask about their current processes for trade-in evaluation and test drives. Again, you want to work with dealers that minimise employee-customer contact as much as possible if you’re worried about COVID-19.

Things Are a Bit Different

Here’s where buying a car nowadays gets tricky. Imagine that you’ve browsed local car dealerships and found the perfect car.

A car isn’t the type of purchase that you make sight unseen, and online reviews aren’t the same as going for a test drive. As a final check, you need to get behind the wheel, yet you need to stay safe from the coronavirus—and you can.

In the past, dealers wouldn’t dream of letting someone test drive a car alone. With the coronavirus, however, taking a test drive with a sales wingman is a potential dealbreaker. With this in mind, you’ll need to contact a dealer to learn more about their current test drive policy.

Going for a Test Drive

The test drive is one of the most important parts of buying a car. It will give you a feel of the vehicle that you want to buy.

Still, it’s essential to maintain social distancing practices. With this in mind, you’ll want to ask your car dealer about contactless handovers. Again, you’ll also want to make sure that your dealer sanitises their vehicles before and after all test drives.

Going Solo for Safety

Now, more dealerships are providing unaccompanied test drives so that their customers can maintain social distancing practices. Near the end of June, officials relaxed social distancing measures to one-metre plus.

Some dealerships may still offer an accompanied test drive for this reason. Ultimately, it’s up to you whether you want to work with a dealer that doesn’t offer solo test drives.

Making Post Pandemic Buying Easier

Due to the pandemic, more dealers are allowing potential car buyers to take solo test drives. However, you can’t just show up at a dealership and expect to drive off the lot alone. In most cases, you’ll need to book your test drive in advance.

Most dealerships let you book a test drive online. However, you can call to arrange a test drive appointment if this method will make you feel more comfortable.

In either case, remember to mention that you’d like the car disinfected before you take your test drive. Also, double-check that it’s been sanitised when you arrive to make sure it’s safe to drive.

Yes, You Can Buy Cars Safely!

Hopefully, our review of the car dealer disinfecting process has helped to put your concerns at ease. What may prove equally as helpful, however, is arranging your financing in advance. C1 Finance has got you covered.

Apply for car financing today to lock in a great rate and make buying the perfect vehicle easy.

Apply for a car loan today

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