While there remains a lot that we don’t know about how the COVID-19 coronavirus will play out, U.S. health officials still say there will be many more cases here and elsewhere in the world before the situation gets better. As a result, U.S. auto production is essentially shut down through April, though car repair facilities generally remain open, as does some level of sales and leasing operations in most states.
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The virus pandemic is global, and few industries are as interconnected around the globe as the auto industry. While China was the first country affected and South Korea followed, the situation has improved in those countries. Europe and the U.S. now are world centers of new cases.
Buying a car might not be your major concern right now. However, we will eventually get back to normal life and work, so you might have questions if you need a vehicle now — or at any point in 2020, including replacing a vehicle coming off of a lease. We are continually surveying the available information to answer some of these questions, and we’re updating these answers on Cars.com as new or more complete information becomes available.
Are car dealers still open?
The situation is changing daily, but car dealers are not being ordered to close, even in most states and localities with the strictest rules. The federal Department of Homeland Security included vehicle service and parts businesses as well as vehicle leasing and rentals on its list of essential infrastructure exempt from closure orders, but it did not address sales. A handful of states have ordered sales stopped, while others have specifically said they can be open. Some jurisdictions have set specific rules for conducting sales to limit contact, such as only by appointment. And in a lot of places, the status is confusing — you need to contact the individual dealer to check. National trade groups and Cars.com have been pressing for federal clarification and a national policy on auto sales.
What if I have a vehicle coming off a lease soon?
Most makers’ finance units are creating coronavirus plans with flexibility on leases — typically up to a six-month extension on expirations. You can read more about leasing plans and assistance in our coverage here.