How To Use Your Car During The Coronavirus Outbreak

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Updated for January 2021 national lockdown

As the ongoing coronavirus pandemic continues to impact our day to day lifestyle, you may be left wondering how this will affect the use of your car.

What are the rules on during lockdown? How about car sharing, is that allowed? Are there good practices for keeping your car clean and maintained properly while you’re working from home? Discover everything you need to know about car use during the coronavirus outbreak.

What is the government guidance on driving during lockdown?

If you’re making a trip by car, the latest government guidance says that you shouldn’t leave your home (or be outside it) unless this is absolutely necessary.

Journeys where car travel is deemed absolutely necessary are:

  • If you’re driving to the shops for essential items for yourself or a vulnerable person
  • Travelling to and from work, or for voluntary/charitable work that you can’t carry out from home
  • Going to meet your support/childcare bubble where you’re allowed to by law
  • In a medical emergency or if you’re trying to avoid injury, harm or illness (this includes domestic abuse)
  • (for those eligible), attending education or childcare

Can I drive somewhere to get exercise, or for recreational purposes?

You’re advised to stay local for any form of exercise/recreational activities (i.e. going for a walk, cycling etc.) and you shouldn’t go for a drive just to get out of the house, such as for a day trip.

When you do travel, social distancing is advised in order to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.

Am I able to visit family and friends in my car?

Based on the guidelines set out above, you should only to leave your home for particular reasons mentioned.

You can visit people in your support bubble (should you be in one), such as when you’re caring for a vulnerable person or you’re volunteering. This is as long as you don’t have coronavirus symptoms. If you do, then you should only leave the house to get a coronavirus test.

For a full insight into the current lockdown rules, head over to GOV.UK.

Can I share my car with other people?

Car sharing with members of other households or your support bubble isn’t permitted unless it’s essential to.

In a situation where car sharing is essential, the guidelines advise that you help reduce the risk of transmitting the disease by:

  • Sharing transport with the same people each time
  • Minimising the group size at any one time
  • Opening windows for ventilation
  • Travelling side-by-side or behind other people, rather than facing them (where seating arrangements allow)
  • Cleaning your car between journeys, focusing especially on touch points (door handles, buttons, infotainment touchscreen etc.)
  • Asking driver/passengers to wear a face covering

Things to be aware of while driving during the coronavirus lockdown

You may notice that some things are different when you’re out and about driving. For example, there’s likely to be more pedestrians and cyclists using the roads, especially as more people are taking up outdoor activities in order to get a respite from being locked down in their homes.

You should try to be extra vigilant in looking out for these other road users when using your car. If you’re using lesser-known roads and/or travelling at night, for example, be sure to proceed with caution and stick to the speed limit.

It’s important that you’re also being hygienic during and after each journey you do in your car. A good way of doing this is by keeping a bottle of hand sanitiser in your glovebox for which you can use when exiting and re-entering your vehicle. At the end of your journey you should also sanitise your hands to reduce the risk of spreading any germs in your house.

Getting a new car

The coronavirus has greatly impacted the world economy and multiple industries have been put on hold due to quarantine and social distancing measures.

Unfortunately, this includes the motor industry with big names like General Motors, Ford and Nissan all closing their factories until at least March 27th (the earliest date given by manufacturers for re-opening). As a result, all factory orders have been suspended across the board.

However, if you order from stock many providers offer free delivery and, while dealerships are also being closed, they may still deliver to you. If this is the case, couriers will follow social distancing guidelines and provide a no-contact transaction by standing well away from you while you sign the paperwork and wiping down any touched surfaces of the vehicle.

How to keep your car clean

Now more than ever it’s important to keep your car clean, especially if you feel you may have symptoms of coronavirus. To do so, you should regularly wipe down all surfaces with antibacterial wipes which you or anyone else comes into contact with. As a point of reference, here is a list of some frequently touched surfaces:

  • Door handles
  • Engine start button
  • Steering wheel (including indicators, wipers etc.)
  • Gear stick
  • Touchscreen infotainment display
  • Stereo
  • Air conditioning
  • Handbrake
  • Armrests
  • Seat adjustments
  • Glove box
  • Rear view mirror

If you share the car with others remind them to do the same to always keep your car clean and free from bacteria.

Remember: it is your responsibility to ensure that the car is clean and sterile before handing it back.

Car Wash

Getting a service/MOT

As garages across the nation close their doors due to coronavirus, if you have already scheduled an MOT it is likely that it will be cancelled or postponed.

Equally if you were planning on booking an MOT you will probably find you won’t be able to until garages open shop after social distancing measures have been lifted.

If your car’s MOT is due on or after 30 March 2020, it will be extended by 6 months but you must keep your vehicle safe to drive during this time. If you don’t feel you car is safe to drive, we recommend you keep it off the road and on your drive or in your garage.

Driving courses

Driving tests for non key workers and courses offered by the National Driver Offending Retraining Scheme (NDORS) have also been affected and have been cancelled for 12 weeks.

If you were previously offered any course delivered by NDORS, you’ll be contacted by the police force that offered it so that they can explain what will happen next.

Similarly, if you had booked a driving test which was scheduled over the next three months then it will have already been rescheduled for you. We recommend you check the rescheduled date to make sure you can attend. If the new date isn’t suitable, you’ll be able to reschedule it yourself once the service is back online.

However, if you’re a key worker you will still be able to book an emergency driving or theory test. Just in case you’re not sure, a key worker is anyone who works in one of the following industries:

  • Health and social care
  • Education and childcare
  • Key public services (postal workers, those required to run the justice system, religious staff, those responsible for managing the deceased and journalists providing public service broadcasting)
  • Local and national government
  • Food and other necessary goods
  • Public safety and national security
  • Transport
  • Utilities, communication and financial services

In order to book your emergency test you’ll need to email the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) with the relevant email address shown below. They will then tell you what you need to send in order to prove that it’s essential that you take your test.

Emergency theory tests

Emergency driving tests

Refuelling during the coronavirus outbreak

It’s fairly common these days to be able to pay at the pump allowing you to avoid the queues and, more importantly, the germs in store. However, the pin pad and the pumps themselves will have been used by others and may be contaminated.

Thankfully stations tend to supply disposable gloves in order to protect your hands from the filthy and greasy nozzles. Nowadays these double up as a great way to avoid unwanted germs that may have been left by previous customers.

If there are no stations nearby that offer disposable gloves, we recommend using the station’s toilets to wash your hands straight after filling up to avoid potentially bringing any of the virus back into the car. If the station doesn’t have a toilet make sure you bring something that you can use to wash your hands along with you.

Petrol Station

Charge your electric vehicle at home

With the increase in popularity with electric vehicles (EVs) you are likely to run into a similar situation to refuelling when it comes to publicly charging your car. In order to avoid this, we recommend you look at getting a home charger installed by following these steps:

  1. See if your provider can put you in contact with a company who installs wall chargers.
  2. Check if the company can install the charger while following social distancing guidelines laid out by the government.

If you are able to get a home charger installed, you may also be able to take advantage of the government’s £350 Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV) grant if you meet the eligibility criteria. The main factors are shown below:

  • You must have eligible off-street parking.
  • You must install an OLEV-approved charge point.
  • The date of installation must not be more than 4 months ahead of the date of delivery or date the customer becomes the registered driver of the electric vehicle.
  • You must use an OLEV-approved charge point installer.

However, if a home charger is not a possibility then you will need to stick to a domestic charger until an appointment can be made. Unfortunately they will take a lot longer to charge your car, but it’s still preferable to using public charging stations.

Still need to do essential travel without taking the risk of public transport? With our easy comparison search, configure your new car now for prices on in-stock vehicles from our specially-selected providers.

For the latest car reviews, auto news and entertainment, check out the Moneyshake blog.

Coronavirus Update