Coronavirus FAQs

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The coronavirus outbreak has brought about many questions from drivers about what to do with their cars, especially now that many people aren’t using them much, or at all.

So, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions to shed some light on what to do with your motor during these uncertain times.

Car garages, dealerships and MOTs

Are garages open?

Despite dealerships being forced to close due to social distancing guidelines and the ordered lockdown from the government, garages can stay open.

It’s worth checking with your local car garages whether they have decided to remain open for business, and remember that the following precautions should be in place if they do:

  • Only small groups can enter the premises at any one time.
  • The two-metre social distancing gap must be upheld at all times.

Are car garages essential?

Car garages have been classed as essential by the government because they’re responsible for carrying out repairs and services on cars.

Many ‘key workers’ such as NHS staff still rely on their cars in order to get to and from work during the week, and therefore it’s important that they have an option to get the vehicle fixed if it encounters problems. On top of this, people are also still using their vehicles for essential shops for food and medicine, so the garages can keep these cars on the road and working too.

My MOT is due. What should I do?

The Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA) postponed all MOTs on 24 March 2020 for three months, until 22 June 2020.

If your car is due its MOT within the next eight weeks, or has already expired, don’t panic. Arrangements are in place to give drivers in this position a Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC) which allows them to continue to drive.

Remember: You will only be issued with a TEC if you have already booked an MOT and it has been cancelled. So, if your current test certificate is due to expire in the next eight weeks, you should still book an appointment so that the system can register the booking and you can receive a TEC.

Are MOT centres open?

According to a statement by the government, garages and MOT centres are still allowed to remain open and carry out MOT tests.

However, individual centres are being urged to follow these social distancing guidelines:

  • Any staff members who become unwell with a new, continuous cough or high temperature should be sent home and told to self-isolate.
  • Customers and staff should keep at least two metres apart at all times to prevent a potential spread of coronavirus.
  • Objects and surfaces touched regularly should be frequently cleaned and disinfected.
  • Seat covers and new disposable gloves should be used for every vehicle test.
  • Avoid printing MOT certificates unless customers need it for a specific reason. Instead, tell them they can download and print it when they get home and check their MOT history.
  • Payment should be done through contactless mobile or card where possible to avoid handling cash. The limit for contactless payment has been increased from £30 to £45 to encourage this.

Will car dealerships close?

Car showrooms and dealerships have been told to close as part of the UK lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus. However, there are many which are still taking orders online during this time.

Those dealerships switching to this model will most likely have staff working remotely to handle new purchases and to safely make deliveries to those who have already bought a car. This is provided that surfaces are disinfected along with the keys and any masters, while observing the two-metres’ apart social distancing guideline when the vehicle is handed over.

If you’re interested in a vehicle then you may be able to benefit from the technological advancements most modern dealerships have undergone. For example, many will be able to communicate with you on direct messaging applications such as WhatsApp and Skype for quicker response times. You should also be able to get a walk-around video of any car you’re wishing to buy as a way of compensating for not being able to see it in the showroom before parting with your cash.

Using your car

Are police stopping cars?

Now that the UK lockdown is lawful, the police have the power to stop cars and make sure that the journey being taken is essential, as per government guidelines.

You can leave your home in a car for one of the following reasons:

  1. Shopping for basic necessities, such as for a weekly shop or medicine.
  2. A medical emergency in order to provide care or help to a vulnerable person.
  3. Travelling to and from work where this is absolutely necessary because a job can’t be carried out at home.

Is parking still being enforced?

Many local councils are allowing NHS workers, care staff and other key workers to park for free and without a time limit in pay-to-park bays. However, parking enforcement will still be in place for all other drivers in certain areas in order to protect this offering.

Some local authorities are scaling back how it deals with parking offences, prioritising penalties for obstructive and dangerous parking.

Here’s our advice for parking during the coronavirus outbreak.

  • Check your local council’s website for any new rules put in place.
  • Don’t park on double yellow lines or block any roads.
  • Private parking staff are unlikely to be working, but CCTV operation may still pick up your registration plate and issue you with a fine if you try to park without paying.
  • If you have paid for parking in advance with a company for an event or travel which has been cancelled, you may still be able to get a refund, so be sure to check on the website or contact them about this.

Should I consider car sharing?

If you’re a key worker needing to get to work but can’t drive and public transport is either cancelled or poses too much of a risk, you may be considering car sharing with colleagues.

In this case, the government has relaxed its social distancing rules of keeping at least two metres away from others not in your household, saying that if there was no other option then car sharing is allowed.

There are a few guidelines mentioned in the statement which advise key workers on how to car share safely.

  • Car sharing must be done “with the same individuals and with the minimum number of people at any one time”.
  • Keep good ventilation by opening the windows while travelling and ensure everyone is facing away from one another.
  • Privately used cars should be cleaned regularly using gloves.

How can I ensure my car is safe?

Besides keeping surfaces and objects in your car clean through regular disinfecting and wiping, it’s also important that you perform maintenance checks to ensure it’s roadworthy.

Remember: Even if you’ve been issued a Temporary Exemption Certificate (TEC) by the government because your car doesn’t have an up-to-date MOT, you can still be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and be given three penalty points if you’re caught driving a vehicle in dangerous condition.

Here are some common checks you can carry out to make sure your car is road legal:

  • Make sure the headlights and brake lights work.
  • Check that the windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean.
  • Open the bonnet and ensure the engine oil, coolant, windscreen washer fluid and brake level fluid are all sufficiently full.
  • Check all tyres for tread depth and make sure there’s no cuts or defects to the wall or rims.
  • If possible, check your car’s battery health using a voltmeter or power probe (a reading between 12.4 and 12.7 volts is considered healthy).

Driving tests

Have driving tests been cancelled?

Driving tests have been suspended for up to three months by the government due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, if your test has been cancelled then you should receive an email containing a new date and time for it, which should reach you around two weeks before your original test date.

Driving tests are available for key workers such as NHS staff or those working for companies deemed as ‘essential’ who still need to commute to and from work.

If you want to cancel your test and get a full refund, you can email the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to request this. In order to do this, you’ll need at least two of the following:

  • Your driving licence number.
  • Your theory test pass certificate.
  • Your driving test booking reference.

Have driving theory tests been cancelled?

Theory tests up to and including 20 April 2020 have also been suspended.

Like the practical test, you’ll get an email to tell you that it’s been cancelled and you’ll be automatically refunded and notified of this too.

It’s then up to you to book a new theory test on a date and time after 20 April 2020 which suits you.

What should I do if my theory test certificate expires soon?

Your theory test can’t be extended legally under any circumstances, so you’ll need to book a new appointment and pass it before being able to take your practical driving test.

I’m a key worker. How can I apply for an emergency driving test?

If you’re a key worker and need to take a practical or theory driving test in order to access a car to get to and from your place of work, you can do so by emailing the DVSA using either of the email addresses below.

Practical test contact: critical.worker.driving.test@dvsa.gov.uk

Theory test contact: critical.worker.theory.test@dvsa.gov.uk

For a practical test application you’ll need to include the following information:

  • Your phone number.
  • A preferred test location.
  • What type of driving test you would like to take (e.g. car, motorcycle, lorry etc.)
  • Your driving licence number.
  • Your theory test certificate number.
  • A copy or scanned image of valid work ID badge or an email from a work address, scan of a payslip or other form of document from your employer.

For a theory test application you’ll need to include the following information:

  • Your phone number.
  • The details of the test centre which you want to take the test at.
  • The type of theory test you want to take (e.g. car, motorcycle, lorry etc.)
  • Your driving licence number.
  • A copy or scanned image of valid work ID badge or an email from a work address, scan of a payslip or other form of document from your employer.

Finances

Should I cancel my car tax?

Many people have been hit financially because of the coronavirus, with many jobs lost and others being furloughed. As a result, you may want to consider ways of saving on motoring costs, and cancelling your car tax might be a good way to do this, so long as you aren’t using it.

Depending on the type of car your drive and where it was registered will affect how much tax you pay. If it’s a considerable amount because your vehicle produces more CO2 emissions, for example, then it’s probably worthwhile cancelling your tax.

In order to do this and still keep the car, you’ll need to declare the car as being off the road by getting a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN). You’ll need a V5C (also known as the ‘log book’) or V11 reminder to do this, so if you have a lease car be sure to contact your leasing provider to check whether you can get access to this.

Remember: A car can only be declared as SORN if it is parked off road on a driveway or stored in a garage.

Should I cancel my insurance?

Insurance is one of the biggest running costs every driver has to pay when using a car, but what if you aren’t using it because of the UK lockdown?

Just like tax, you must have an insurance policy for your car if it’s on public roads. However, you can move your vehicle to a private space such as a drive or garage and then cancel both your tax and insurance.

Remember: Before cancelling your insurance policy, you should contact your leasing provider with the reason and make sure that the finance company are happy for you to do so.

Can I cancel my lease agreement early?

Early termination of any car lease agreement is done at the discretion of the finance provider, who is the registered owner and keeper of the vehicle.

If you would like to end your agreement early, you should contact your leasing provider about this, who will then speak directly with the finance company to see whether this is possible.

Remember: In order to end a lease agreement early you will have to pay an early termination fee, the amount of which will depend on how far you are into the contract and the details of your agreement.

Need a new car to get to work or the shops for essentials? Our providers are still taking orders for new vehicles and some have measures in place to make safe deliveries too. So, check out our latest car lease special offers to find the right car for you.

Want more information on leasing a car during the coronavirus outbreak? Then check out our article which tells you all you need to know about how to get your new set of wheels during these uncertain times.