What you need to know about your car during lockdown
The ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has changed many aspects of life as we know it, affecting everything from our capacity to work, to our social lives, and, of course, our health. Yet with the nation under lockdown and all non-essential travel put on hold, the current situation has also raised a lot of questions for car owners.
For the most part our roads are much quieter than they would usually be, as many vehicles sit untouched in garages and driveways. Yet at the same time, key workers are relying on their cars more than ever as public transport services become significantly reduced.
If you're not sure where you stand with issues relating to the maintenance, protection, or finance of your vehicle, read some of the key updates below.
With many garages temporarily closed, those facing an upcoming MOT may be concerned their vehicle will no longer be considered legally roadworthy. Thankfully, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) announced that any vehicle MOT due on or after March 30th 2020 would be automatically extended by six months.
The extension comes with the stipulation that drivers must continue to keep their vehicle safe to drive. This means carrying out checks such as making sure the windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean, that lights and brakes work, and that tyre tread is of an adequate depth.
Some garages will still be open for necessary repairs, with extra precautions in place to protect staff and customers.
The situation regarding servicing is less clear, leaving motorists in a tricky situation if late or missed services could invalidate warranties. The best advice is to contact your warranty supplier to see how your cover is affected.
Allowances are being made, however. Many manufacturers have communicated that their warranties will still stand if servicing is delayed, while independent providers such as ALA have confirmed that current circumstances will be taken into account regarding its online RAC warranties.
This means that owners of certain car brands which are available on the website like Vauxhall, with ALA they will be taken into consideration in this difficult time. This is not limited to the Vauxhall brand, it does include other brands such as BMW and Audi for example.
If your vehicle is due a service and you haven't yet booked in, it's still a good idea to get in touch. Though you may not be given a confirmed date, doing so should log the service on the dealer's system.
The pandemic's effects on people's finances are becoming increasingly apparent, with mortgages and rent the primary concerns for many. But what happens if you can no longer afford your car finance payments?
The first thing to do is to have an honest conversation with your finance provider. You may be offered a solution to make the payments more manageable, such as deferring payments or extending the length of the loan to reduce monthly instalments. Doing so, rather than simply defaulting, will help to protect your credit score.
Retaining your vehicle insurance policy is still important even if you have no intention of taking it out and about. Keeping comprehensive cover in place, for example, will continue to protect you against damage and theft.
There are some scenarios where it could be worth considering taking out GAP insurance for extra peace of mind.
If you invested in a new car before the lockdown came into place, or if you've leased a car within the last 12 months, GAP insurance will cover any outstanding finance if it's written off. Similarly, it will protect you against future depreciation if you've owned your car for more than 6 months.