Coronavirus advice for car drivers

During the current Coronavirus pandemic, many businesses are having to reduce their working hours, staffing and even close altogether. We’re also being encouraged to stay at home, reduce travel and many are self-isolating. So, what does this mean for car drivers? We’ve answered some common questions for motorists in the hope that it eases your worries.

 


Payment freezes proposed for car finance – Update April 20th


In a move similar to recent payment holidays announced for mortgages and loans due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting many people’s ability to keep on top of their household bills, the Financial Conduct Authority is expected to announce payment freezes for car finance in the next few days.


The FCA is currently looking at options this week, with an announcement expected on Friday 24th April and with new rules being enforced in the coming weeks. If the current proposal is confirmed, this could mean finance firms giving 3-month payment holidays to customers that request them due to financial difficulties caused by coronavirus.


Motor finance companies have also been asked not to repossess cars or end loan agreements with customers who are “experiencing temporary financial difficulties due to coronavirus”.


They have also been instructed by the FCA not to alter contracts in an “unfair” way, such as using the temporary fall in car prices caused by the pandemic to change the so-called balloon payment expected at the end of an agreement.


If you’re currently facing financial difficulties with regards to your current car finance deal, speak to your lender for help.


What if I need fuel? 


We know that many people are still out on the roads, possibly still travelling to work or reducing their time on public transport by using their car. So, what happens when you need to fuel up? Luckily petrol stations have adapted over the years and now many offer pay-at-pump stations. They are card only and majority are open 24/7. Whilst many petrol stations are still business as usual, it might be worthwhile finding your nearest pay-at-pump station if it does close.  


Make use of the plastic gloves often available at the pumping stations and wipe down the pump itself with an anti-bacterial wipe before and after use. 


My MOT/Service is due soon, what do I do? 


*Update*


From 30 March 2020, MOT due dates for cars, motorcycles and light vans will be extended by 6 months. For further updates and more information on how this affects you, visit the www.gov.uk website.


If you have had your MOT or Service booked in for a while, it is worth checking with the garage that they are still expected to be open and your booking is still valid. Remember, it is illegal to have an expired MOT certificate, whether you are driving your car or if it’s parked.  


If you’re planning to self-isolate, and your MOT is due in less than a month, you can book to have in carried out in advance whilst still preserving its original renewal date. 


If you’re currently self-isolating, think about whether a suitably insured driver could take your car for its test in your absence. 


When dropping off your vehicle, many service stations and garages are offering a key-drop system which means you leave your key and some information at a safe location in reception or outside, limiting your contact with others. Some service stations are also offering drop off and collection services for people self-isolating, so always worth asking what services they are offering at the moment. 


And whilst we are sure that all garages and service stations are carrying out vigorous hygiene precautions, we’d recommend wiping down any surfaces of the car when it is returned to you. 


Your manufacturer service, although important for the overall health and condition of your car, is not a legal requirement so think about whether you could afford to postpone it for a while. 


What do I do if I break down? 


Breakdown companies such as AA and RAC are currently still operating as normal and are putting in place appropriate hygiene measures such as patrols wearing gloves and vans being stocked with the latest hygiene products. They will also disinfect any areas of the car that require work. So, don’t panic if you breakdown, follow the same procedure as you normally would and advise the operator if any passenger is currently ill or experiencing symptoms. 


Will my driving/theory test still go ahead? 


According to the official government website, driving tests from March 21 have been suspended for up to 3 months, except for critical workers. Theory tests are currently suspended for one month, up to and including April 20. We would recommend contacting your local driving test centre for more information or checking www.gov.uk for further information. 


Can I still sell my car? 


You can still sell your car privately, or as a trade-in if you’re buying a new car with a dealer. If you are a private seller, you can still upload your car ad on Exchange and Mart for as little as £5 for 2 weeks. Although you can still list your private ad, there are a few restrictions you may face at this time and are worth taking into consideration. The demand for viewings may be lower than normal with so many people staying at home so keep that in mind. When it comes to viewings, remember to wipe down any surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes. Test drives may be difficult at this time as we do not encourage close contact with others.  


Can I still purchase a car? 


Many car dealers and showrooms are still open as usual, but with a smaller staff force and limited hours. Whilst we are being encouraged to stay home, this may change in the future but that doesn’t stop your search for a new car. You can still search thousands of used car deals from all the best car dealers at Exchange and Mart and s1cars. Dealers are adapting to the current situation by offering virtual showrooms and video walk-throughs, offering you the full showroom experience at home. You can discuss finance options over the phone or email, so your car buying journey can continue. 


 The situation with businesses staying open or adapting their services is constantly changing, so we recommend phoning ahead to any business if you’re planning on visiting, thinking about whether your visit is essential, and monitoring the news for any updates. Most importantly, stay safe and stay at home where possible. 


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