Can I still buy a car during the latest coronavirus lockdown?

Car showrooms will be reopening from 12 April, but in the meantime, it is still possible to buy a car and you can take it for a test drive...

Click and collect forecourt

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed that all non-essential retail outlets, including car showrooms, will be able to open on 12 April, enabling car buyers to talk to sales staff in person and experience potential purchases before they buy. From this date, it should also be possible for car buyers to take a test drive in a car before placing a deposit on it, collecting it from the showroom. 

Although showrooms can't open in England before 12 April, it is still possible to buy a new or used car by ordering it online. And, as long as you've paid a deposit for a car, you can take it for a test drive before going ahead with the purchase. During the lockdown, it may be also possible for a dealer to drop a car off at your home for a test drive or collect it from an agreed location that is not on the dealer's premises. 

Although many car dealerships have chosen not to offer test drives during the third coronavirus lockdown, Trading Standards has confirmed to legal firm Lawgistics that test drives are permitted during a lockdown, as long as the driver has already paid a deposit for the car either online or over the phone. The other stipulations are that the driver cannot be accompanied by anyone from the dealership and that adequate insurance cover must be in place. 

Disinfecting car

During the previous lockdown in late 2020, car dealers were allowed to sell cars to customers online and let them take delivery via a contactless service, and many are continuing to trade using this formula during the current lockdown. 

Choosing a car and arranging finance for it is fairly easy to do remotely, especially with many dealers providing comprehensive descriptions, photos and videos online. 

Cars can be handed over in no-contact formats, with the keys and documents sanitised and placed in a sealed bag. Cars are also sanitised prior to handover, and many dealers are offering handover videos to talk buyers through the main controls of their new car, or Whatsapp video chats, with the salesperson sitting in an identical car to run through the controls while the customer sits in their new car. 

Some dealerships are also providing contactless car delivery services, either for free or for a fee. And some are offering no-quibble returns for vehicles that prove unsuitable after a brief time. This is because all non-essential travel is discouraged at present.

If you’re looking to replace your car, you can also do so via What Car?'s New Car Buying service, which is offering great discounts on a wide range of new cars via our partner dealerships. All of the dealers in our system have committed to selling you their cars at our Target Price discount or below, so there’s no need to haggle to get the best price. 

What Car? can also help you research the best car for you. We have hundreds in in-depth car reviews on our website and more than 400 video reviews, giving you a chance to see many models up close. 

Visit What Car? Deals to see how much you could save on your next car.  

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