Let’s take a look at the results of a recent survey by Kijiji Autos Canada, and what it tells us specifically about buying a used car during the pandemic. As car shoppers do more than ever online, online auto marketplaces are taking extra steps to understand the changing habits of those shoppers during the pandemic. Analysis of this information can help reveal what’s driving more shoppers to used cars, what challenges they’re facing along the way, and what a shopper can do to anticipate and mitigate those challenges and stresses.
According to Kijiji’s survey data, close to one quarter of Canadians say they’ve considered buying or upgrading their car since the start of the pandemic, with about 19 per cent having visited at least one car dealership.
Canadians are buying a lot of used cars these days, with 76 per cent reporting that they’re uncomfortable using shared mobility services or public transit. This means that more and more Canadians are interested in buying a car as a safer way to get around.
“ We know Canadians want the experience of searching for, comparing, and buying vehicles to be as easy as possible,” says Leanne Kripp, head of Automotive at Kijiji Autos.
“Our survey revealed that 77% of Canadians would be most confident researching vehicle types and costs online, and that 73% are confident in handling the car buying process alone”.
Cost efficiency factors in as well. Some 32 per cent of respondents listed cost efficiency as a main reason for upgrading or buying a car. In uncertain times, people tend to seek out certainty where they can—hence more shoppers moving to a newer, more reliable and dependable car.
Interestingly, 54 per cent of Canadians say they’re comfortable finding their desired vehicle in an online marketplace, with the majority preferring to do it alone.
You can take that to mean that today, in 2021, the average Canadian car shopper hits the lot with a good idea of what they want already, after determining their selection on their own and ahead of time. By time a shopper visits a dealership in 2021, they’re fairly or very interested in purchasing.
“The industry is still facing the ripple effect of the pandemic, but test drives remain the most exciting part of the car buying process” explains Kripp.
“39% of Canadians reported they are comfortable completing a vehicle purchase with a completely contactless transaction. Dealerships have done a great job in creating a safe way for shoppers to plan their visit and, once they arrive, take their shortlisted vehicle for a drive so they can get the valuable firsthand experience, which is so important in deciding what vehicle is right for them” .
The biggest barriers to Canadians from buying a car today are the financial concerns reported by 38 per cent of respondents, as well as a desire to avoid the used car buying experience.
In sum: you’re probably comfortable finding and shopping for your new vehicle alone, and it’s likely you’re looking to buy, or upgrade a car for added safety, confidence, and cost efficiency.
Still, there are some parts of the purchase process that remain uncomfortable.
About 17 per cent of Canadians are just trying to avoid the car buying experience right now, and 75 per cent of respondents say they’re uncomfortable taking a virtual test-drive—we figure, because those tend to work better in person.
Shoppers virtually seeking more detail and an up-close look at the vehicle they’re considering can find plenty of photography and video content on Instagram or YouTube . Further, m any vehicles have large online owner’s communities that exist in web-based forums or Facebook communities. Search and join one of these if you have specific questions about the car you’re considering. Many existing owners are happy to share their experiences and advice with potential owners.
Notably, 35 per cent of respondents said they were the least confident in finding out the history of a used car, by themselves. Most shoppers prefer to shop alone, remember—though this information suggests that if there’s one area you might be looking for a hand, it’s in finding the history of the used car you’re considering.
As one of the most important steps in buying a used car, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing it properly, and asking for help if you need it.
For maximum confidence, you’ll want to know whether the vehicle you’re considering has ever been involved in a serious accident, and how it was maintained and cared for throughout its life. Buying a used vehicle with a vehicle history report from a reputable source, as well as full servicing records, can help reduce uncertainty about how the vehicle was cared for by past owners. Generally, a vehicle that’s sold with full service records, and is familiar to its servicing dealership, is best. Some dealers offer Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) models that are required to meet a higher quality standard before being sold.
Having the used vehicle you’re considering inspected professionally before you buy is your single best defence against unforeseen problems. Ask your favourite dealer or shop to book a Pre-Purchase Inspection (PPI), and make arrangements with the seller to take the vehicle there for it, or to have them meet you. A PPI takes less than 2 hours, generally costs less than $200, and could save you thousands.
I asked Leanne Kripp how a used car shopper might seek out more confidence as they hit the market in 2021.
“There are some easy ways for Canadians to get started with their next used vehicle search. First, start with your budget. Consider the overall cost of ownership – it may be more or less than the sum of the monthly payments, which vary based on many different factors. Financing is better for high-mileage drivers, with no mileage limits and no fees for excess wear upon return; leasing is better for moderate drivers, allowing them to upgrade to a newer vehicle more frequently and have safety and technology features that are important to them.”
“Consider fuel consumption as part of your budget. Take your time with research—Kijiji Autos makes it easy to explore all cost and feature considerations so you can find an option that works for your needs and budget. When visiting a dealership, make sure to explain your needs and expectations for your new car now and in the future”.