What Does The Coronavirus Pandemic Mean For Cars and Motorists?

Certain restrictions have now been put in place to prevent individuals from leaving their homes unless for necessary travel due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. As it’s showing no signs of slowing down, motorists are wondering if they can still have any scheduled maintenance work, MOTs or servicing until they’re allowed to leave their homes again.

Those considered critical workers will have no issues with getting any repair work done to their vehicles as they will need to get around for important work. For the rest of the country, here’s how the lock down is going affect cars and motorists in the UK.


So, Can I Still Drive My Car?

You can still use your car but not like you’re used to. The UK government has recommended that you should only use your vehicles for one of a few approved reasons:

1) Shopping for essentials (food and medicine)
2) Attending a doctors or hospital appointment
3) Assisting an elderly or vulnerable person
4) Travelling to and from work if you’re unable to work from home

Motorists are prohibited to use their vehicles to drive to destinations that don’t involve the reasons above, this includes driving to go for a walk or any form of exercise. Police forces will be keeping a close eye on this and will questions individuals who they deem are travelling for other reasons. As of Friday, 27th March 2020, there are no measures in place to shut the roads, however this may eventually change.

With this in place, motorists have been advised to not be tempted into taking advantage of desolate roads to go out for a drive. Anyone caught doing so can be and will be fined by the police.


My MOT Is Running Out And I Can’t Leave My House – What Shall I Do?

On March 25th, the government announced that MOTs due after March 30th will be exempt for up to sixth months. However, if you’re vehicle’s MOT is due before March 30th 2020, you will still need to get it done. The only exception is if you’re self-isolating. If you are currently self-isolating then you have been advised to create on application online to take your vehicle off the road (in other words, make your car SORN – Statutory Off Road Notification).

If you aren’t able to get your vehicle to an MOT centre, then it’s important to remember to keep your car in a roadworthy condition. You must ensure that you keep your tyres in working order and that your lights and windscreen wipers are working as normal.

If you’re in the group of motorists whose MOTs are due from March 30th, then the government has announced that you will receive an automatic sixth-month extension. Again, you must keep your vehicle in a roadworthy condition during those six months.

It’s worth looking online to find local garages that offer a collect-and-return service for MOTs, as well as mobile MOT testers. This will mean that you will not have to leave your home. A representative from the garage will collect your car, test your vehicle, and return it to you safely. This might be the preferred option if you wish to not take any chances.


Can I Still Get My Car Serviced?

Garages are staying open for any essential repair work to vehicles used by critical workers; many garages have closed due to the pandemic though. It’s worth getting in contact with them to see what the situation is.

On top of this, car dealer showrooms are closed across the country so car servicing cannot be carried out under any circumstances. If you’re service is due, contact your local dealership to see if the lack of service invalidated your warranty.


What About My Car Tax?

You still need to tax your vehicle. Motorists with MOTs due to expire after March 30th have been notified that their MOTs have been extended by six months. This means that they will be able to use their existing MOT certificate when taxing and insuring their vehicle.


I Need Petrol Desperately – Can I Still Go Fill Up?

Petrol and service stations are still open and will remain open for now. However, they are mainly staying open for those who are deemed critical workers. If you need petrol in order to go out and collect food and medicine, then there are no issues with you filling up. If you’re intending on doing it to pass the time, it’s not worth the risk.

Do remember to take extra care when filling up your car at petrol pumps. Always use disposable gloves when handling fuel pumps as viruses can remain on surfaces for days. With this in mind, keep hand sanitiser in your car and use it immediately afterwards. If you don’t use gloves, please refrain from touching your face. When possible, use the ‘Pay at Pump’ services to reduce your contact with other people.


I’m Scheduled To Have My Driving Test In The Next Few Weeks. What Does This Mean?

You should’ve been alerted but in case you haven’t – all driving tests have been cancelled for three months. Although, tests are still available for those who are critical such a NHS workers and potential delivery drivers. This three-month ban applies to all types of tests such as theory tests, driving tests and ADI standards checks (approved driving instructor).

If you have booked and paid for a driving test, you will automatically get a refund. You’ll receive email confirmation that this has been done. Due to the volume of people who will be receiving refunds, this may take a while to come through so be patient.

You will also be unable to book a driving test in the meantime. When tests are allowed to start again, priority will be given to people who had their tests cancelled, which means you will have to wait longer than usual to take your test.


Should I Notify My Insurer About Changes To My Driving Habits?

It’s inevitable that this pandemic has created change in your life. If you have an insurance policy for your vehicle, you will want to notify them about changes such as:

No Longer Commuting
The majority of insurance policies are include SDPC coverage (social, domestic, pleasure and commuting). If you’re now working from and will be so for the foreseeable future, you may want to alert them about this. This is to be expected for motorists as the governments has instructed the public to work from home as possible, unless you’re a vital worker.

Changes To Where You Keep Your Vehicle During The Day And Overnight
You will have notified your insurance company about where you keep your vehicle during the day and overnight. If you are now keeping your vehicle in a different place to where you originally specified on your insurance policy, you should let your insurance provider now. This includes if you now keep your vehicle in a garage compared to on the street.

Changes To Your Annual Mileage
If you’re not a key worker, then you will be driving less, which means your annual mileage will not add up to what you’ve anticipated on your insurance policy. Let your insurer know if you no longer expect to use as many miles than you’ve stated in the past. If you’re a key worker, you will have to notify your provider that you may use more miles than originally stated.


What Should I Do If I Can’t Make or Keep Up With My Monthly or Annual Repayments?

If you’re struggling to continue making or keeping up with your repayments, then you need to contact your insurance provider or lender as soon as possible. Chances are they will be able to help you or advise you on the steps you need to take. If you do not alert them of your situation, they may void your policy.

The government has not issued official advice on the matter (correct as of Friday, 27th March 2020). They have, however, made a number of pledges to help those individuals who are in financial need during these difficult times. To see if you’re eligible, visit gov.uk for detailed support on the matter.