Buying a car might be the last thing on many people’s minds, especially during a pandemic. However, sometimes buying a car is a necessity that simply cannot wait.
The first step is to carefully consider whether you can afford a car payment, and what you can afford. Create a “projected” budget with the expected car payment to see if it works with the rest of your expenses. This will enable you to calibrate what you can afford and give you an idea of a sustainable car payment.
Here are some things to consider about the “new normal” of car buying and ownership:
1. Relief for Car Payments
Relief for car payments may be available – but you have to ask for it. Many major auto retailers are offering programs to consumers to defer payments or alter conditions of the auto loan. It is very important that you contact your loan provider before you get behind in your payments, if possible. Some car retailers are also offering to defer the first month’s payment on a new car. However, you should consider carefully if you can consistently afford a car payment before taking on a loan.
2. Your Insurance May Decrease
Many car insurance companies are offering rebates and credits for consumers as a result of decreased driving activity. This may be offered automatically, or you may need to call and ask for it specifically. Even if you find yourself driving much less during the pandemic, do not let your auto insurance lapse. It could cost you significantly more in the long run to be driving uninsured.
3. Consider Potential Payment Terms
Consider any potential payment terms carefully: Many car retailers are offering 0% financing or longer repayment terms to lure in buyers with lower monthly payments. However, these loan offers may end up with you being “upside down” for most of the loan. That means you owe more than it’s worth. Try to balance an affordable monthly payment with a payment schedule that will pay off the loan in the least amount of time.
4. Stay Safe While Car Buying
Many used and new car dealerships are offering no-contact or less-contact options for shopping and pickup. This is a way to stay safe by minimizing unnecessary social contact. If you must go into a dealership to buy in person, make sure to maintain 6-foot distance, wear a mask, and request that all high-touch surfaces be sanitized.