COVID-19: Buy online or test drive safely

UPDATED: December 11, 2020

Like all of you, we’re keeping a close watch on the developments around coronavirus and COVID-19. We’ve taken measures to make buying a car during the pandemic as safe as possible. As part of our effort to keep our customers and communities safe, we’ll be posting regularly with new information. Below is a list of coronavirus updates and FAQs to help you stay in the know.

Social-distancing, no-contact test drives

Buying a car during the pandemic doesn’t have to mean you can’t test drive it. We’ve made it super safe with no-contact test drives. That means we’ll bring you the car, wipe it down, and let you take it for a test drive on your own without a Shift Concierge present. In addition, our Concierge will avoid being in close proximity during your appointment and will not be shaking hands.  

Here’s how it works: Your Shift Car Concierge will show up at your home for your scheduled appointment. They’ll ask you for your driver’s license so we can verify it in our system. Once that’s done, the concierge will wipe down any frequently touched surfaces (including the interior and exterior of the car, keys, iPad, and driver’s license), hand you the keys, and then you get to go take the car out for a spin by yourself while the concierge waits for you at a designated meeting spot. At the end of your test drive, if you decide to buy the car, we’ll facilitate the transaction right then and there. If not, we’ll simply drive it back. 

Buying a car online during the pandemic

Now is as good a time as ever to buy a car online. In a nutshell, all Shift cars are eligible to buy directly online without a test drive. Once you place a deposit on it ($250, nonrefundable), we’ll give you a call to confirm the purchase and arrange delivery to have the car dropped off at your house. You’ll have seven days or 200 miles, whichever comes first, to return it if it ends up not working out for whatever reason. 

We’ll also pay up to $200 on any shipping fees for your car.

Selling a car during the pandemic

Looking to offload your wheels? We’re always interested in buying cars. You can get a free, no-obligation quote here. Our Shift concierge will come to your house to evaluate the car and give you a final offer on the spot. If you’re trading in a car, our Shift concierge will bring you the car you want to test drive, and if you want to trade in your old car for the new one, we’ll apply the trade-in credit on the spot. And if you’re not ready to commit just yet, you can always sell us your car without buying a new one just yet. 

Can I still return a car if I buy it directly online? 

Yes – all cars, including our cars sold directly online, are eligible for our seven day/200 mile return for any reason. Depending on where it is, we may be able to pick the car up from you. Simply call or email us and we’ll help to arrange a return for you. 

Easy financing for all purchases 

No-stress financing is more important than ever during the pandemic. We’ve streamlined our finance processes, so you’ll have the option to get prequalified for a loan during your shopping process to be able to view cars based on your likely monthly payments. Or, you can apply for and choose an auto loan during the checkout process.  Either way, it takes just a few clicks and you’ll be on your way. 

Can you deduct your car on your taxes?

As a car company, we often get customers asking us, “Can you deduct your car on your taxes?They’re not alone: Americans everywhere are starting to think through their finances as tax season approaches. But most people don’t know all the ways that their cars can have an impact on their returns, or vice versa. We’ve rounded up some of the best tips you need to know to maximize your money. 

Your taxes and your [next] car

Perhaps the most obvious way to get the most out of tax season is if you receive a refund from the government after filing your return. The average American receives about $2,900 back on their annual tax refund. Compare that to the average used car price of about $20,000, and an average 12 percent down payment of $2,400. So it’s easy to see how that extra cash windfall can literally pay for a new set of wheels. It’s no wonder why TurboTax lists replacing your car as one of the best ways to spend your tax refund. Some people also use that cash to pay for service or upgrades to their current vehicle. 

One of the hidden benefits to putting a tax return towards a car’s down payment is that you can generally either afford a more expensive car (a higher-value asset). Alternatively, you can apply more money towards the down payment, which can lower your overall loan amount and APR. Keep in mind that high-quality used cars tend to retain their value better than brand new cars, so your money will go farther if you choose to buy used. 

Moreover, if you purchased or used a car for professional purposes (for example, a van for your catering business), you can also write that off on your taxes. Here’s a full rundown of the tax considerations for business vehicles.

Other Ways to Use Your Car on Your Taxes

Even if you don’t have a refund coming your way, you can still take advantage of some vehicle-related benefits come tax season.  You can deduct sales tax on a car purchase for local and state taxes when you itemize your deductions. (Given the large price tag of a new car, that’s a lot of sales tax).

On the flip side, if you live in certain states, you can also get a huge sales tax benefit by trading in a car. Those states will let you apply your trade-in credit to the total price before tax is applied, meaning it will bring down the overall taxable amount. So you’ll end up paying much less in sales tax upfront. 

Pro tip: Run the numbers first to see what your payments and APR might be when accounting for that extra cash. Better yet, get prequalified to get an accurate estimate of your monthly payments upfront. (Shift’s prequalification tool even lets you shop based on your predicted loan terms.) That’s some savvy financial planning.