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3 ways the CDK cyberattack is affecting car buyers

What to know about the CDK Global cyberattack
What to know about the CDK Global cyberattack disrupting car dealers 02:56

The ransomware attack on CDK Global is not only hampering car dealerships nationwide — it's also complicating life for car buyers.

Some 15,000 dealers rely on CDK's dealer management software to run their business, including handling various aspects of buying or leasing a vehicle, such as adding dealer incentives and generating a discount for trade-ins. But last week's cyberattacks are disrupting the sales process, experts told CBS MoneyWatch, while also throwing a wrench into what is a major financial decision for consumers. 

Here are three ways the CDK incident is impacting car buyers. 

Delays in buying a vehicle

Car dealerships use CDK's software to track what vehicles are on their lots, conduct credit checks, generate interest rates for auto loans and complete sales contracts, among other functions. But the attack on the platform has forced dealership staff to perform those tasks by hand, greatly slowing the process of buying or leasing a car, Jessica Caldwell, head of insights at Edmunds, told CBS MoneyWatch.

"If you're bringing a check to the dealership or cash, then you'll be OK," she said. "Otherwise, you have to bring your patience because it's a real headache."

One way car shoppers can expedite the buying process is to call ahead to a dealership and specify what vehicle you're looking for, enabling staffers to see if it's in stock, said Jennifer Newman, editor-in-chief of Shopping around for an auto loan, perhaps with a bank or credit union, can also speed things up. 

"Having a pre-approved loan on hand will allow you to keep the car deal moving forward should that be an issue for the dealership," she said. "However, keep in mind that often the best rate may come from an automaker, which is only available through the dealership."

Prepare to visit the DMV

Once someone makes a purchase at a dealership, the CDK system automatically registers the vehicle at the local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Agents at the DMV then generate the official registration paperwork, including the new license plate. 

But that process is also taking longer following the hack, the experts said. With CDK platform down, Caldwell said she has heard that some dealers and customers have resorted to trooping down to their local DMW to register a new purchase in person. That means longer lines at the DMV, Caldwell said. 

To be sure, such hitches should be resolved quickly once the CDK software is fully functioning again. But that could take several more days — the company told dealerships on Tuesday that all dealers won't be back online before June 30.

Longer waits for vehicle service

With CDK down, it's taking dealer repair shops longer to service vehicles, experts said. That's because dealerships use CDK's software both to schedule service appointments and to keep track of what car parts the shop has available to complete repairs. 

How CDK cyberattack is impacting Michigan car dealerships 02:03

For now, some dealer service staff are using spreadsheets and other online tools to keep things moving, but that's a band-aid, Caldwell said. 

"If you're a major car dealership repair shop, you're doing many fixes per day," she said. "If you're having to record inventory in parts by hand, that's going to take away time you're spending serving customers." 

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