Lockdown 2021 Restrictions: What To Do If Your Vehicle Needs A Service

The Government has stated that MOT Centres & garages should remain open to maintain vehicles driven by key workers as a priority. For non-key workers, the advice remains that if you don't need to drive, you shouldn't. Vanarama has pulled all the guidelines together.

Can I Get My Vehicle Serviced During The Covid-19 Outbreak?

Any garage that can perform services, MOTs & repair work is allowed to remain open to perform that work if it is considered to be essential or vital to the safety of the vehicle. An MOT is considered essential work but a service, if not having it will not affect the safety of the vehicle, is not.

If you do take your vehicle in for essential maintenance, the Government advice on social distancing & hygiene remain in place & be followed. If you are isolating (whether by choice or because you have Covid-19), the Government advice is to stay at home & not drive unnecessarily (if at all) - this includes getting your vehicle to a garage for an MOT or service.

Tradespeople, however, are allowed to continue working (another of our articles has all the information on how to work safely) & vehicle upkeep is important to ensure you can travel to work. You can also find out more information about leasing a new vehicle during lockdown.

Will A Break In Regular Services Affect My Vehicle's Warranty?

There are 2 likely circumstances drivers will be in regarding the need to service their vehicles:

  • If you drive a vehicle on a variable servicing agreement based on the mileage the vehicle acquires as you drive it, not driving the vehicle during the outbreak will solve the need to have the vehicle serviced - you won't be adding any miles to the odometer & therefore will not require a service until you start driving it again. Your warranty will remain intact until then.

  • If your vehicle runs on fixed servicing intervals, there isn't as much clear advice to provide. That said, the majority of vehicle manufacturers usually allow a period of around one month (or 1,000 miles - whichever comes first) to get the vehicle serviced before the warranty is determined to be invalid.

In the latter of those 2 situations, the Government's advice is to contact the manufacturer directly to ask for advice & how your warranty will be affected. However, the Motor Ombudsman has stated: "A business cannot decline claims or withdraw your warranty simply because the service was missed, but can only do so if your lack of care caused a fault on your vehicle."

Please remember, however, that the lockdown restrictions prohibit unessential travel. You should not be driving your vehicle just to get out of the house, because the current restrictions include a "stay at home" order.

What Should I Do If I Decide To Take My Vehicle To A Garage For Its Service?

As previously stated, Government advice is to stay at home & not go out unless absolutely necessary. However, if your vehicle requires a service (or any other work that it must have carried out - especially if you are a key worker that requires a vehicle to get to & from work, for example) then follow these steps:

  • Call ahead: Check with your garage whether they are operating on limited hours & set an appointment, or arrange to have your vehicle picked up by the garage instead of having to take it yourself (many garages are offering this as an option). Also, discuss with the garage whether the work is truly required or if it can be postponed until after social-distancing measures are relaxed.

  • **Plan to leave the garage while work is carried out: **You should not stay in the garage while work is carried out. If this is not possible, make sure to ask the garage if the waiting air is sterilised & take any hygiene supplies you might need if you plan to stay. Make sure to follow all social distancing guidelines when interacting with garage employees.

  • Sterilise your vehicle: Make sure to sterilise commonly touched surfaces in your vehicle before you drop it at the garage & after you pick it up.

How To Sterilise Your Vehicle

The Government's current medical advice is that the virus can live for much less time on fabrics (around 48 hours). So, if you're healthy & no one else has used your vehicle, then the interior of the vehicle should be safe. However, the tips below should help you sterilise your vehicle in the event of it requiring maintenance:

  • Clean the exterior of your vehicle with soap & water, santise all contact surfaces including the steering wheel, seat belts, stalks, gear stick, arm rests, seats & door handles.

  • Remember that many vehicles have antimicrobial materials on contact areas, so a good clean is enough to make sure they're sterile.

  • Let your vehicle's interior & exterior dry in natural sunlight when possible, with all windows open - sunlight is relatively effective against many micro-organisms.

  • Wash your hands & don't touch your face after contact with your vehicle.

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