With Many Dealers Forced To Close, Is Now A Good Time To Sell My Car Privately?

Illustration for article titled With Many Dealers Forced To Close, Is Now A Good Time To Sell My Car Privately?

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 private sales during Coronavirus, buying a car without a dealer-installed alarm, and checking dealer inventories for deals.

First, since many dealers are closed in some states will this create an opportunity for private sales?

“My state (MI) just announced the “shelter in place” order that starts tomorrow and will last for 3 weeks. This means all dealerships will be closed, as they are deemed non-essential.


Is now a good time to sell a used car? If people can’t go to dealerships, then there might be a larger market for private sales? How would that balance against people needing to hunker down and stay inside?”


On the one hand, the lack of access to dealership sales may create more of a market for people to buy cars privately, but doing so is going to come with its own set of complicated issues. First, you need to think about conducting the transaction safely within social distancing guidelines. Often people selling a car will want to accompany the potential buyer on a test drive. I can’t imagine most sellers just handing the keys over and saying “Ok bring it back in a few minutes.”

Second, most buyers that get cars from dealers require financing. While they can do that on their own with a local bank or credit union, a lot of buyers don’t want to be bothered and banks may have some restrictions on that process during this time.

Next, is it possible to buy a car without a dealer-installed alarm?

“I’m looking for new car and after dealing with a few salespeople via email, supposedly reputable Toyota/Honda dealers.

They all say I can’t get a new car without a dealer installed alarm. (theft patrol)

One says it a good deal and must come with the car, another says I’ll

have to sign a form saying I’ve declined to buy it activated.

Apparently it comes pre-installed, and there is no way to get a vehicle without it.

And I’m not remotely interest buying a car with it being removed.

It must not ever been installed.

Is this too much to ask from them?”

This must be a regional thing in your area because I rarely have encountered dealers that have installed their own alarm system on top of what the factory already puts in.


The simplest thing to do is to focus on the overall cost and not the alarm details, but if you have an underlying objection to having an extra alarm in your car there are two ways to manage this First, shop outside your region perhaps those stores are less likely to do this, it might be worth some travel to find a more cooperative and perhaps more competitive dealer. Second, once dealers start resuming new car deliveries, and that may be a while with factory closures, see if you can have a dealer get you pricing on an incoming car and work up an agreement before that alarm is installed.

Lastly, what is the best way to see who has the inventory for the best deal?

“I want to lease a Chrysler Pacifica, but they want 100 more per month then when I leased it last (3 years ago). Is there a way to check FCA inventory levels so I can see who is holding the cards? I would wait a month or 2 to get a better deal.”


Deals right at this moment are not as good as people expected them to be because the new rebate/incentive programs reset each month, so waiting a bit is probably your best play. In terms of finding inventory, third party listing sites like Autotrader, Cars.com, CarGurus can give you a sense of who has what. Chrysler’s own website will even allow you to find close matches with dealers in your region.

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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Andrew P. Collins

I was about to sell my 300ZX, then it needed to be repaired, then I put off repairing because of my laziness... now it looks like I have a lot more time for repairs. Maybe I could even teach myself how to do that timing belt! Sigh.