The world continues to adapt to changes that the coronavirus pandemic forced upon everything. It changed social norms and affected the economy on a global range. The situation is at that point when some of the biggest international car manufacturers are making a switch to assist in making life-saving medical equipment. On top of the change in priorities of carmakers, car brokers and car dealers are expecting a decrease in their sales due to the mandated social distancing rules and the lockdown restrictions.

Frequently Asked Questions About COVID-19 and Car Care

Due to the increasing cases of the coronavirus in the country, some areas opted to extend lockdown. But what does this mean for people with vehicles or people who drive for a living?

Learn how the coronavirus lockdown affects your driving experience, car care routine, or your plans of buying a new car from a car dealer.

Here are some FAQs about COVID-19 and cars:

Can I go on a road trip or have a long drive for fun?

No, the lockdown restrictions require people to stay at home unless it’s for an essential activity. Essential activities include going to work or to school, buying groceries, buying medicines, and providing assistance in an emergency.

Although owning a car means less contact with other people, if it’s just for leisure– then you should just stay at home than face the risk.

Are car owners allowed to have passengers in the front seat?

Car owners are allowed to have passengers if they are from the same household. However, they can only bring a maximum of one person from outside their home. The government advised maintaining a 1.5-metre distance from other people, so this means that it’s best if you don’t have a passenger on your front seat especially if they’re not from your household.

These safety measures are necessary to lessen the risk of physical contact or to prevent transmission of the coronavirus. There is less risk for a car owner if their passenger is from their household. They are fully aware of the activities of their household members, details like their whereabouts and if they are following the new safety norms. 

If you must share a car with someone who isn’t from your household, request that they take the backseat. For your safety, you should avoid touching the same surface until you have disinfected the vehicle. You must also avoid touching your face and wash your hands when you get home. 

If you must share a vehicle with someone from outside your household, you should suggest they sit in the backseat, avoid touching the same surfaces, avoid touching your faces and both wash your hands before and after getting in the vehicle. Disinfecting any touchpoints in the car is also advised.

Is there a way to properly disinfect my car?

Since the virus is highly contagious, your car must be properly disinfected and cleaned to ensure your safety from COVID-19. Some carwash may still offer their services amid the crisis, however, it may be for your best interest to clean it yourself.

Here are some recommendations for when you are cleaning your car:

  • Disinfect high-contact surfaces in your car with disinfectant wipes. You must do this every time these surfaces are used. High-contact surfaces mean your door handles, steering wheels, gear shift, shift paddles, entertainment or navigation system, and anything that you touch a lot. You should also wipe down your key, seats, armrests, cupholders and air conditioning.
  • You should be mindful of surfaces with vinyl, plastic, or paint when using harsh chemicals like bleach, hydrogen peroxide or high concentration alcohol sanitiser. Although these chemicals are effective disinfectants, they can also effectively discolour your car’s interiors.
  • Make sure that you wash or sanitise your hands after refilling your fuel, especially if you are handling the fuel pumps yourself. You must also sanitise your hands after touching cash or EFT terminals and any other high-contact surfaces during the transaction at a gas station.

To summarise the disinfecting process of your car, keep in mind to spray or wipe down your car door handles with disinfectant wipes. Everything that is commonly touched must be sanitised. 

You must also do the same thing for handling the back of the car. You should wear disposable gloves to ensure that you are protected from the virus and other bacteria.

Is it okay to bring my vehicle for car service or car repair?

This bit will depend on your area. Some service and repair centres accept clients and some may be closed due to lack of capabilities in terms of manpower and supplies.

For instance, some areas like Melbourne where a stricter lockdown is underway, only certain auto repair services are considered as essential:

“The Victorian state government has tightened the definition of vehicle repairs, and has issued the following clarification;

We can confirm that only services covering essential and critical ‘vehicle repair, servicing and maintenance’ are permitted to open for on-site work with a COVID Safe Plan in place.

This does not include routine servicing, however, would include urgent recalls.

This clarification will have a definite impact on whether car mechanics are open during the metro Melbourne stage four lockdown.”

However, some argue that car dealers and auto repair services should be considered as essential services since vehicles are key elements for other industries to operate. For instance, food delivery services are highly dependent on a functional vehicle to operate.

Although some car service centres are fighting for their rights to operate, some centres are having difficulties with their car part supplies as of now. Some repair shops are experiencing some delays in car parts and other supplies that they need to operate effectively due to car manufacturers and carmakers switching their priorities to medical equipment.

Is it too late for me to buy a car?

Given that people are advised against sharing a car or carpooling, transportation to work or school is now an issue for a lot of employees and students. Due to the risk of public transport, more and more people are looking into buying their own car.

As mentioned previously, there is a possibility that the automotive industry may be asked to shut down as some areas call for a stricter lockdown. However, you can still buy a car from an open car dealership near you. Keep in mind that you and your car dealer must implement the necessary social distancing process throughout the transaction.

So, no– it’s not too late for you to buy a car. You can physically go into a dealership to purchase a vehicle for personal transport. For as long as you implement the necessary social distancing requirements and practices, as the government suggests– it should be fine.

One of the things you can do to lessen your risk of getting the virus is to look for car dealers who are responding to the current environment. What does this mean? Some dealerships offer services that limit physical contact with clients. It means handling the contracts remotely and allowing home test drives.

Am I allowed to take a car for a test drive?

A test drive is an important step when buying a car. It helps a buyer have a feel of the vehicle that they are interested in buying. If you are in the process of buying a car, give your car dealer a call and they will inform you of the details.

Keep in mind that social distancing practices should be observed, ask your local dealer if they can do contactless handovers. It is best if the vehicles are sanitised before and after test drives.

Are gas stations open? Can I go to them to refill my car?

Yes, gas stations are open even during the lockdown. If you must go to a gas station to refill your car fuel, you should wear gloves and avoid touching your face. Washing your hands after using the gas pump is also recommended.

What if I can’t afford a car? Can I get a taxi or an Uber instead?

Taxis and Ubers are still operational even during the lockdown. However, Uber has suspended its UberPool option to lessen physical contact between strangers. Multi-passenger ride-sharing services are not advisable amid the coronavirus pandemic.

You can still get a taxi or on Uber, but you must observe social distancing practices. Keep a 1.5-metre distance from the driver, which means not taking the front seat of the car. You must use a hand sanitiser before and after your ride. Do not touch your face and remember to wash your hand the soonest you can after exiting the vehicle.

Conclusion

The COVID-19 virus affected so many lives. Now, its effects extend to businesses across all industries including the automotive industry. As a car owner, a potential car buyer, or a person using public transport services— you need to apply the new norms that the coronavirus pandemic has imposed on a global scale. Hopefully, this compilation of answers to frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19, car dealers, and car care will help you as you adjust to the world’s current situation.

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