Although Victorians may not be able to leave their homes amid stage three and four lockdowns, there are still a handful of ways to buy a new or used car in the state.
With public transport, Ubers and taxis a less appealing option due to public health concerns, plenty of people may be looking to purchase a vehicle for their regular supermarket shopping trips and essential outings.
When it comes to the rules for dealers within the stage-four lockdown area, the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce interprets the Victorian government restrictions as meaning "retailers are able to work onsite only for the purposes of fulfilling existing and online orders".
That means that if you've already ordered a car before the lockdowns took effect, you'll still be able to take receipt of the car via dealer delivery to your home – although delays may occur.
Meanwhile, the stage-three regional Victoria restrictions are permitted to stay open for on-site operations – providing they ask visitors and employees to wear face coverings and comply with both the four-square-metre rule and signage and cleaning recommendations.
Although 'stay at home' restrictions are in place, regional Victorians are permitted to leave their home to purchase a car if it's necessary for them to carry out their work or obtain essential goods and services.
"The major message from dealers is that what we're employing is a common-sense approach," James Voortman, CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealer Association (AADA), told CarAdvice.
"Our members will do their bit to stem the spread and thwart this health crisis and there are still certain things that can be done in terms of trading."
As such, those seeking to buy a new or used car amid metropolitan Melbourne's stage-four lockdowns have a few options available to them.
1. Order from a dealership online
Plenty of manufacturers have online order platforms which allow you to configure a model, or reserve existing floor stock, for a small deposit.
From there, a dealer will contact you to arrange next steps, which can be made entirely contactless – including delivery to your home.
Of course, even dealers without online ordering can take enquiries over the phone or via email and walk you through the process, step by step – including any trade-ins if applicable.
"So many new car purchases involve the trade-in of a current vehicle so that will obviously be part of the process," Mr Voortman says.
"These days, with the technology we have, there are measures we can take to help us assess the condition of the car and do a valuation remotely."
This includes walkaround tours of the car captured on camera phone.
Mr Voortman says customers should be upfront about their individual requirements in order to find an option that suits their timing.
"For those customers who need a car urgently, they will need to see what's in stock and be cognisant of delays when ordering from overseas," he explains.
2. Buy a used car from someone within 5km of you
According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS): "You may be able to purchase a used car if it is necessary to do so, subject to restrictions (eg. 5km radius from home; only one household member leaving home to obtain necessary goods and services once per day). Otherwise, purchasing a car should be postponed until Stage 4 restrictions ease."
As such, if you require a car in order to carry out essential work or obtain necessary goods and services, you may be able to justify collecting one from a seller nearby, as long as you obey curfew hours, wear a face mask and don't stray more than 5km from home.
When you're appraising or test-driving the car, the DHHS says to exercise caution and common sense in line with restrictions.
"If you propose to purchase a car from an individual, you must carefully consider whether it is necessary and if so, comply with Victoria’s COVID-19 restrictions such as social distancing and wearing a face covering," the DHHS says.
3. Buy from an online auction site
If you're after a bargain and don't have the time nor energy to go back and forth negotiating with a seller, an auction site could prove a great way to get a good deal without too much fuss.
"When the restrictions commenced nationally in March, Pickles moved to sell all motor vehicles via PicklesLive and PicklesOnline in accordance with the direction from the Government and with that shift we had to stop buyers inspecting auction vehicles during that time," Brendon Green, General Manager of Motor Vehicles at Pickles auctions explains.
"Our fixed price vehicles are available to be purchased online with detailed condition reports and most have a ‘7 Day BuyBack’ option for peace of mind.
"Unfortunately, Fixed Price buyers can no longer view the assets before purchase due to Stage 4 restrictions, however our sales staff are performing video inspections with customers."
Once you make a purchase, most auction houses will transport the car to you for an additional cost.
"Buyers of auction and fixed-price vehicles can utilise Pickles National Transport Services to transport their car from any Pickles location to their home," Mr Green explains.
A freight calculator is available on each listed vehicle on our website to help customers obtain an estimated transport cost. Successful buyers simply contact our transport team and we take care of the rest."