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

AS PART of the UK government’s efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak, a series of emergency measures has been implemented including 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 do these restrictions affect you if your car needs a service or repairs, or requires an MoT during this period?

Garages to remain in operation

Non-essential businesses are closing but the good news is that garages will remain 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’.

If you are one of the people who urgently needs 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 should be restricting the number of people allowed in at any one time to prevent people getting too close to each other.

While garages will be remaining open, all car showrooms have been ordered to close, as they are regarded as a non-essential service.

Servicing your car while you’re 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. All cars due an MoT before this date will still need to be tested.

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.’

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