Tips and Advice

Coronavirus: how does it affect MoT tests, servicing and repairs?

Does your car need maintenance or an MoT test during the COVID-19 outbreak? We explain everything you need to know

As part of the UK Government’s ongoing efforts to combat the Coronavirus outbreak, the series of emergency lockdown measures first implemented in March have been extended until May. These measures include restrictions on non-essential travel, a ban on public gatherings of two people or more, and the closure of all non-essential shops and services. But how does the lockdown affect you if your car needs a service or repairs, or requires an MoT during this period?

Garages to remain in operation

While non-essential businesses remain closed during the lockdown, the good news is that garages will stay open for servicing and repairs. The decision is part of the government’s pledge to ensure that the relevant people can “keep the air, water, road and rail passenger and freight transport modes operating during the COVID-19 response, including those working on transport systems through which supply chains pass.”

NHS guidance on coronavirus: your first port of call

If you do need to take your car for a service or repairs during the crisis, the government has stated that all businesses must comply with the ‘social distancing’ recommendations, ensuring a distance of two metres between anyone on the premises. This means that any garage you visit is required to restrict the number of people allowed on the premises at any one time to prevent customers coming into close contact with each other.

While garages remain open, all car showrooms will remain closed, as they are regarded as a non-essential business.

Servicing your car while your self-isolating

Most new cars can be serviced at varying intervals depending on the mileage you’ve done, rather than on a set date. If you’re self-isolating, you won’t be adding mileage to the car, so there’s minimal risk of invalidating your warranty.

However, if a condition of your warranty is adherence to fixed service intervals, things are not as clear. Several manufacturers will allow for an additional month or 1,000 miles as a grace period in excess of the stipulated date or mileage required for a service, so you should still be covered if you’re unable to visit a service centre immediately. However, if you can’t get the service done within the extra month, then the Motor Ombudsman recommends that you contact your car’s manufacturer for further advice.

MoT tests: six-month exemption granted

The Department for Transport (DfT) has confirmed new legislation granting a six-month MoT test extension for all cars requiring a test from 30 March 2020 onwards. For example, a car with an MoT expiry date of 30 March 2020 won’t now require an MoT until 30 September 2020. This also applies to new vehicles requiring their first MoT at three years old - for more information, click here.

According to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, irrespective of any MoT extension, your car must be maintained in roadworthy condition: “Given the circumstances, I'm granting an MoT temporary exemption so that if your MoT is due from 30 March 2020 you will automatically receive a six-month extension. However, you must still keep your car in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open if you need repairs.”

Additionally, if you have been forced to self-isolate due to COVID-19 and are unable to drive your car to an MoT test centre, the DfT is working with police and insurance companies to ensure people who are in isolation and unable to get their car tested "aren’t unfairly penalised for things out of their control."

Other motoring requirements

While the government is providing an automatic six-month extension to all MoTs, this doesn’t currently extend to other requirements. You must pay VED (road tax) when it’s due or, if you plan to stop driving completely, consider placing your car on SORN. Those motorists due to MoT their cars after the 30 March will still be able to tax their cars online, as the DVLA’s online MoT database will be updated accordingly.

The only instance where car insurance is no longer required is if the car is declared off the road on a SORN. We still strongly recommend you keep your car insured anyway to cover it in case of damage, fire or theft.

Read our full guide on how the COVID-19 outbreak affects drivers and car buyers here.

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