moving vehicle with medical face mask on rearview mirror

Contactless Car Shipping During COVID-19

Contactless Car Shipping During COVID-19

David Stone
Updated November 24, 2021 by David Stone

Table of Contents

    moving vehicle with medical face mask on rearview mirror


    Here’s what you need to know to take safe delivery of a car you bought online

    The coronavirus pandemic has forced operational shifts across most sectors. Many industries are adjusting to these changes by moving toward online, contactless business models. It’s been rough for some industries but a boon for online car sales as demand for new and used vehicles trends upwards. 

    But how do you take safe delivery of a car you bought online while COVID-19 runs rampant? The answer is contactless, or “no-touch,” car shipping. In this blog, you’ll learn:

    • How vehicle selection is taking place digitally
    • How Tesla is pioneering total no-touch delivery
    • The safe way to receive your car in person
    • Why physical contact is sometimes unavoidable


    How car shopping happens in a virtual world

    Much of the vehicle selection process has taken place digitally since the Internet took hold. Shoppers browse dealer’s websites and have faith that the pictures they find would tell the whole story. However, closing the sale typically involved an in-person visit for a firsthand look at the vehicle in question.

    Now, dealerships are increasingly offering services that enable the entire buying process to happen in cyberspace, and the customer won’t miss a thing. Big names like Fiat Chrysler, Ford, and Honda are allowing interested buyers to call an agent and receive a virtual tour of the lot or a closer inspection of a particular vehicle.

    Some dealerships even let buyers deck out their choice with their desired look and optional extras before moving on to settling the financing, all online or by phone. The dealerships which are most ahead of the COVID-19 curve will then deliver the vehicle to the customer’s home, some even doing so at no extra charge.

    If your local state regulations allow your dealer to deliver this way, the only physical contact necessary is to sign the contract. It’s becoming more common as COVID-19 continues to squeeze profits across the board and car dealers are increasingly willing to go that extra mile to close a sale. But there’s one usual suspect who’s looking to make contactless car shipping into a complete no-humans zone.

    How Tesla is pioneering no-touch delivery

    You’re in line for the full no-contact experience if you have your eye on a Tesla. Ever the industry shaker, the California-based company premiered its no-touch test drive in September 2020. A totally solo experience for the potential buyer, vehicles on standby were remotely unlocked and activated for a short time to give drivers a feel for the car before being disinfected for the next user.

    Tesla has also been working to make no-touch delivery a literal experience by eliminating the need for physical contact of any kind, from first look to contract signing. Their “Direct Drop” option is coming soon to many states, while some locations are already taking part. The service aims to bring the car to the buyer after all paperwork, including signing, is electronically completed.

    From there, the buyer will simply go to the agreed location and unlock their new car via Tesla’s app. The entire viewing, purchasing, and shipping process involves zero contact with another human. Innovative, hugely popular companies like Tesla often ring the bell for what will become industry-wide norms. Check out this YouTube video for a quick look at what truly contactless car delivery may be like in the.

    The safe way to receive your car in person

    First, you’ll probably be in brief contact with a dealership representative to sign the paperwork and take final possession of the vehicle. In that case, standard social distancing rules will help keep you safer, as will wearing a mask.

    You should make it clear to the dealership that you want to inspect the car and very probably test drive it before signing off on the deal. Many dealerships will even deliver the car to you at home for a test drive. Typically, the rep will have disinfected the inside of the car before handover, but do it again to make sure. There’s a right way to disinfect a car courtesy of Consumer Reports, which details how to keep your car super clean without harming its surfaces.

    Take your time looking the vehicle over and taking it for a spin. There is a way to cut out the need for a test drive and further reduce the need for physical contact, and that’s to purchase a vehicle that’s authentically certified pre-owned, or CPO. This is typically a more expensive option, but it means the vehicle comes covered with a previous inspection and a warranty.

    Warranties bring us to our next prep step: Be ready for the hard sell. Being face-to-face with a rep for however short a time means they’re likely to push add-ons, extras, and extended warranties. Research these before you interact in person and decide if you’re for them or against them. This will cut down contact time, which can be dragged out by absorbing new information.

    If you’re content with how the vehicle performs and the paperwork is over, close the deal and perform a thorough hand cleansing afterward. This will wrap up your COVID-19 car collection.

    Why physical contact is sometimes unavoidable

    In order to get a new vehicle, it’s very common that you have to trade in your old one. Trade-ins make it necessary for dealers to take a thorough look at the vehicle before deciding on what they feel is a fair offer. Many dealerships offering trade-ins will require the previous owner to be there in person to answer questions, show ID, and provide vehicle documentation.

    There are occasionally exceptions even to this rule. Ask your dealership if they carry out blind trades: The provision of an appraisal offer based purely on extensive photographs of the vehicle inside and out. This is yet another step toward taking fully contactless delivery on your next purchase.

    If you buy a car online, no matter how far away, Mercury Auto Transport can help bring it to you. Our platform finds quotes in minutes for open, enclosed, and flatbed auto transportation. We’ve arranged safe delivery for over 186,000 vehicles by road, rail, and air while working with the most trusted shipping partners in our industry. Email or call us free at (800) 553-1828 or for a quote.


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    First, we post your vehicle through our network, including all National Dispatch Boards for Auto Transport. This is where all licensed auto transport carriers can see your vehicle is available for shipping.


    We present offers from FMCSA Licensed and Insured Carriers. When you accept an offer, we send your service agreement that guarantees the price, door-to-door service and 100% bumper to bumper insurance. There are never any hidden fees or charges, guaranteed.


    Not until you approve your carrier and final logistics is your deposit due. Your deposit is included in your quote and goes toward the total price. The remaining balance is due at time of delivery. Nothing gets done without your approval.


    Your driver will contact you prior to your pickup and delivery dates to schedule a time for loading and unloading. Once your vehicle reaches its destination, you do a final inspection of your vehicle and pay the driver the remaining balance. You and the driver both sign the Bill of Lading and each keep a copy.