What Does the Lockdown Mean for British Drivers?

With new measures introduced to limit the spread of coronavirus, there are many questions about how the lockdown will affect day-to-day life – and this uncertainty extends to motoring.

With little time to prepare for the fallout of coronavirus, public bodies like the DVLA have faced a scramble to introduce new legislation and policies which safeguard the public whilst upholding current environmental and safety standards. This means that drivers are still playing catch up when it comes to new requirements and rule changes which affect how they drive and maintain their cars.

Smart Motorway

To help, Holts has answered some of the common questions motorists have about the impact of the lockdown.

Will I still need to MOT my car?

No, not at the moment. The government announced a 6 month emergency extension on MOTs so that you don’t need to make an extra journey to visit a garage, and to take pressure off mechanics.

However, you can still be prosecuted if you’re found to be driving an unsafe car, and obviously the point of an MOT is to make sure your car’s roadworthy. So, we’d recommend that if you are still driving and notice anything unusual about your car you pay attention to it. Any new noises or if changes to how it drives, then get yourself on a forum or check out our blog to try and get an idea of what it could be. Some mechanics are staying open to carry out essential repair work so if you think it’s something serious and you need to use your car during the lockdown you should still get it looked at.

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Will I still need to service my car?

No. As servicing isn’t a legal requirement, it’s recommended that you avoid taking your car to a garage for any unnecessary work. If your car has a fault, you can take it for repairs, but this is only justified if you really need your car to get to work or for getting essential supplies.

Will I still need to pay car tax?

Yes. So long as your car is on the road, you’ll pay tax on it. If you’re not planning on using it for the entire lockdown period, we’d recommend applying for SORN ‘off the road’ status, which means you won’t pay tax. Read our guide on how to SORN a car.

Should I still be driving?

Following the government’s current guidelines, there are certain instances when it’s OK to drive, but you should avoid unnecessary travel where possible. The current rules allow for travel to and from work if you’re a key worker or cannot work from home; driving to and from a food shop to buy essential supplies; and in medical cases where you’re looking after a vulnerable person.

Is my car insurance still valid?

Many people have questioned whether their existing car insurance is still valid during the coronavirus lockdown. This is because details on their policy may no longer marry with their current circumstances. For example, your policy may state that your car is normally parked in a secure car park at work during the day, when really it’s parked on the street outside your home.

Insurers are aware of these discrepancies, so will likely take a more lenient stance in cases where you have to make a claim. If, however, you’re concerned about the validity of your policy, be sure to contact your insurer to let them know of any changes of circumstance.

If your car is going to be stood for a long period during the lockdown, there are a few things you can do to make sure it’s ready for use when the restrictions lift:

  • Tyres deflate naturally when stood, so you should check the pressure before driving again.
  • Turn the engine over once a week and let it run for five minutes. This will prevent parts seizing and ensure the oil doesn’t thicken.
  • Make sure there’s no rubbish left in your car. Bacteria, mould and mildew can grow quickly when your car isn’t in use.
  • Fill up with fuel. This prevents condensation forming in the empty part of the tank, which can interfere with fuel performance and economy.
  • Disconnect the battery if your car is old, as this will prevent it from draining power over a long period.

At Holts we solve your car problems, even if you’re not driving it. To help maintain your car even when it’s off the road check out the help and advice on our blog.