3 Car Ownership Habits Formed During the Pandemic

By: Jacqueline Hearns, Associate Director of Market Operations at Carvana

2020 was a year of the unexpected as our day-to-day routines were halted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Car ownership was no exception, and many consumers were forced to learn new habits for buying and maintaining their vehicles. If you’re looking to buy a car or just want to take care of the vehicle you have as we move into 2021, here are three major takeaways from COVID-19’s effect on car ownership.

1. Online Car Buying and Selling The first step in car ownership is purchasing the right vehicle, and according to a June 2020 COVID-19 sentiment survey by CarGurus, preference for buying online has doubled since before the pandemic. A full 61% of respondents looking to buy vehicles in 2020 also noted that they would prefer to use contactless services like virtual appointments, at-home test drives, or home delivery.

Last year, traditionally brick-and-mortar dealerships began to take advantage of online selling and trading more than ever before, and major online retailers saw substantial increases in sales as people shopped from home. Consumers also looked to online services for trading in their vehicles or selling for extra cash, as many faced economic challenges due to the pandemic. It’s easier than ever to buy and sell online with retailers that provide quick and simple ways to get a quote, check the warranty status, or review your financing options all without having to make a trip to a dealership.

2. Car Cleanliness Keeping your car clean on the outside has always been the best way to avoid contaminants that may cause rust or other damage, but cleanliness inside your car is more important than ever as we all work to stop the spread of COVID-19. The CDC advises that regularly disinfecting high touch areas like the steering wheel, console, door handles and dashboard, is one of the best ways to keep yourself safe from the virus. It’s important to remember that your car’s interior is less durable than your kitchen counters, so the same cleaning products can’t always be used. Solutions containing at least 70% alcohol are effective in killing coronavirus, making isopropyl alcohol a good option for disinfecting car surfaces, even imitation leather or cloth seats. Remember to never use bleach or hydrogen peroxide as they can both damage upholstery and ammonia-based cleaners can damage any touch screens in your vehicle.

3. At-Home Maintenance Quarantining and shelter-in-place orders meant fewer Americans could make trips to the auto shop last year. According to a recent study by IMR Automotive Research, 20% of households delayed routine car maintenance in 2020. Performing a few simple maintenance steps at home is more important than ever for keeping your vehicle performing its best. Staying familiar with your vehicle and how it typically drives is the best way to keep it performing at its best. Checking things like tire pressure, interior and exterior lights, and fluid levels can be done quickly and easily at home, and certain vehicle fluids like oil, windshield wiper fluid, coolant and brake fluid can all be topped off without a mechanic.

We all had to adjust to a new normal and adopt new skills in 2020. Despite the tumultuous year, there are several lessons learned and habits worth bringing into 2021, and the three car ownership habit changes mentioned above are prime examples.


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