How Can I Test Drive A Car While Social Distancing?

Photo: David Zalubowski, AP

As a resident car buying expert and professional car shopper, I get emails. Lots of emails. I’ve decided to pick a few questions and try to help out. This week we are discussing social distancing and test drives, using your credit to leverage low APR financing and potential Mad Max cars.

First up, what is the best way to conduct a test drive while social distancing?

My current car needs a lot of work and I need to replace it ASAP. I don’t really have the ability to wait-out this coronavirus thing. How should I go about doing test drives while practicing social distancing?

We are now living in a time where we need to rethink our strategy on how we go about social interactions that we normally take for granted. As you know the traditional way of test driving a car is not compatible with the social distancing guidelines of keeping six feet away from other people. But there is a way to manage the process.

In case you haven’t heard dealers along with many other local businesses are going to get hit hard by the economic impact of this virus and some of them, provided that they are staying open, are adjusting their strategies to sell cars and maintain a level of safety. Ford is offering some kind of bonuses for dealers that bring the car to the customer, and other dealers are adopting similar approaches.

What I would recommend is first use third-party listing sites to check your local inventory for a car you would want to drive. Call that dealer and tell them you are interested in a test drive and ask if they would be willing to deliver the car to you for an hour or so.

If the dealers don’t have the staffing or aren’t willing to do this, they may have a system in place where the car is prepped and ready to go once you arrive and you don’t have to be in close contact with any of the staff or other customers. While many dealers are taking extra precautions regarding cleaning surfaces, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to bring some disinfecting wipes to do a quick clean of commonly touched areas like the steering wheel, gear shifter, and infotainment unit. Of course, wash your hands as well.

Do you think a 1976 Oldsmobile Cutlass 442 would work for a lifted Mad Max Vehicle?

I think any car can make for a great lifted Mad Max vehicle with enough creativity, but I’m especially fond of the 442 and it would probably be very cool with some knobby tires and whatever other post-apocalyptic accessories you want to add.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at [email protected]!

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