Illustration for article titled Will The Coronavirus Situation Allow Me To Negotiate A Better Price On Used Cars?
Photo: David Zalubowski (AP)

As Jalopnik’s 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 used car deals, five-day return polices, and driving non-Subarus in CO

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First up, will there be more haggle room on used cars due to Coronavirus?

My wife and I are in the need for a newer minivan. Our 2010 Odyssey has a mechanical issue that Honda refused to fix and we now have 165,000+ miles on it. So we are wanting to trade it for a newer Sienna. Our van is paid off. We don’t want to spend over 25K for a van but we also don’t want a no options one either. I found a 2019 XLE at an Acura dealership in Gainesville Fl with 45K miles on it for 24K. With this virus thing out there, do you think I could get it cheaper, if so, how much cheaper? Also is that a good deal?

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Despite the fact that I have covered this in length a few times, some people still are not convinced that the strategy for understanding the best deal on a used car is very different than a new car. Given the current Coronavirus situation on the auto-market, I can understand why some folks may think they can haggle used cars down lower than before. However, I can tell you that most dealers are already pricing cars accordingly. Used car pricing depends on two primary factors, first is what similar cars are retailing for and second how long that car is sitting on the lot.

Most dealers will take a scan of the market (some have fancy software that does this for them) to determine what similar cars are going for and they will price their car in-line with the rest of the field or in some cases cheaper than the rest of the field. As that car sits, it will often undergo various price reductions and there will usually be a point in time where the dealer hits rock bottom and sends that car to auction.

As for this Sienna deal, if it’s in good condition that seems like a pretty solid price for a 2019 XLE model. But whatever you are shopping for here, the key question you should ask is can you find a similar car with similar mileage for less? If so, maybe you should buy that other car...if not you probably have found your deal.

Next up, is there a catch to these dealer five-day return polices?

“What do you think about dealerships that advertise a 5 day/250 mile return policy on car purchases?

Is there a catch in there that I should know about?

Thinking of possibly buying a CPO Porsche from such a dealer, have them deliver it to me, drive it, have it inspected, and return it if it doesn’t check out.”

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It is not terribly uncommon for dealers to offer return policies on pre-owned vehicles, especially since a few days of ownership and the addition of 250 miles isn’t likely to impact the value all that much. In fact, these policies are usually a good sign that the dealership is the type of place that wants a happy customer, but just make sure there is no fine print that says the return must be for another car in their inventory as some of your shadier places will throw that clause in there. I would imagine that since this is a Porsche dealer they aren’t trying to stick you with a car you wouldn’t be happy with.

Lastly, is it mandatory to drive a Subaru in CO?

“I have just accepted a job offer to join the faculty at a college in a small town in Colorado. As excited as I am, I am also very concerned about driving there given our current car situation. I hope you can help!

My family currently has two cars: a leased 2019 Honda HR-V and a purchased 2015 Honda Accord Hybrid. We’ve been in Texas for the last few years and these cars have served us very well. We really like Hondas; the hybrid gives my husband the fuel efficiency he needs and the HRV gives me the space I need as a mom.

However, I am concerned that neither car is appropriate for driving in Colorado. Based on my visit there, it seems everyone drives a Subaru! So, can we survive Colorado winters in our current cars or do we need to switch? If the latter, what would you recommend?”

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While Subarus are certainly popular in Colorado due to their excellent all-wheel-drive system, they are by no means the only appropriate car for the region. This isn’t Texas: should severe winter weather were to hit, most areas of Colorado do a very good job of clearing the roads. Furthermore, if you were really concerned about winter driving a good set of snow tires on your cars should give you all the traction you need.

Got a car buying conundrum that you need some assistance with? Email me at tom.mcparland@jalopnik.com!

Tom is a contributing writer for Jalopnik and runs AutomatchConsulting.com. He saves people money and takes the hassle out of buying or leasing a car. (Facebook.com/AutomatchConsulting)

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