Car buying advice during coronavirus

What you need to know to make the buying process as easy as possible during coronavirus

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is a difficult and challenging time, but we all know that some people still need a car. This guide will show you what you need to consider if you are planning on buying or selling a car now. Swipe further down this guide for more car advice you may need at this time.

Buying a car during coronavirus
With all but shops selling basic essentials – such as food and medicine – closed, car dealerships have shut their doors for the foreseeable future. Many of these dealerships are still available to take calls and handle inquiries from potential customers, though, and you can even have your new car delivered straight to your door with no-contact delivery – just like ordering groceries.
carwow has launched remote-buying features to help you buy a car without leaving your home. When looking at offers from dealers, car buyers can see which dealerships are offering the ability to purchase 100% remotely. With Delivery and Disinfect, when you get a new car delivered to your home, the delivery driver will disinfect the car prior to handover, and also drop documents through the customer’s letterbox, leading to a zero-contact buying experience.
If you’re planning on paying for your new car monthly (using HP or PCP finance deals), the amount you pay is affected by interest rates – including the Bank of England Base Rate. This is extremely low at the moment, so you may find some dealerships are offering slightly cheaper deals on new cars as a result.
The trusted dealers on carwow will ensure that all their stock – new and used cars – will undergo a thorough cleaning process before they’re delivered. They have the resource and staff to do this properly. This might not be the case if you’re buying a used car from a private seller, especially if the car’s still in regular use.
If you’ve recently ordered a new car, there’s a chance your delivery will be delayed. Many car manufacturers have closed their factories and even manufacturers yet to suspend production could experience delays as a result of supplier factory closures in China. However, many of these facilities are starting to re-open as the rate of new coronavirus cases reported in China slows. Even if your new car has been built, there may be delays in delivering it to your chosen dealership as logistic companies take extra precautions to protect their staff. Dealers will be told whether to expect delays to their deliveries and you should contact them if you’re concerned. If you’re looking for a car that can be delivered sooner, check out the latest in-stock cars available from carwow dealers. These cars might not come in the exact specification you’re after (they may be painted a different colour or come with a few extra options) but they’re in-stock and ready for delivery now. Configure your chosen car now to see which in-stock cars are available.
Car finance and coronavirus
You may find your financial situation changes as the coronavirus situation develops. It’s advisable to keep a close eye on your outgoings, including car finance payments, to make sure you don’t fall behind. If you’re concerned about upcoming payments, don’t ignore it – contact your finance provider immediately. These firms are often separate from the dealership that sold you your car, but you’ll find their contact details on the documents outlining your finance agreement. The Finance and Leasing Association advises customers to “contact their lender as soon as possible if they anticipate problems – they’re there to help. The type of assistance will likely vary depending on the customer’s circumstances, but starting the conversation is key”.
If you’ve financed your new car using a PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) agreement, you’ll be given the choice of returning your car when your agreement ends or making an optional final payment if you’d prefer to keep it. The recent coronavirus lockdown has imposed limits on personal movement, but this doesn’t mean you’ll have to choose the option to pay to keep your car by default. You’re still entitled to choose from the two options outlined in your original finance agreement. The Finance and Leasing Association states that “the abiding principle has to be that customers are able to choose the option that best suits their circumstances”. They advise that you should contact your finance provider to discuss your options if you’re unsure about any aspect of your agreement.
Coronavirus and your car
If you are the only person to use your car, or if it is just your family and no-one is showing symptoms of the coronavirus, then it is logical to treat it like an extension of your home. This means that you shouldn’t need to worry about it if you maintain the same general guidelines that the government has issued. This means washing your hands, ideally before and after you drive it, just in case. The exception is if you have driven someone who has caught the coronavirus, in which case it will need to be cleaned. The official advice from Public Health England is: “All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected.” This includes “objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids”, and “all potentially contaminated high-contact areas”. According to Public Health England advice, antibacterial wipes can be used for cleaning all these touchpoints – gear lever, steering wheel, indicators, interior and exterior door handles and the other bits that are touched regularly. If the seats have become contaminated then you may want to get them steam cleaned – chemicals might damage those. You should wear gloves while cleaning your car and wash your hands when you take them off. If you are concerned about a car that others use, like a rental or a shared car, then use the same approach and give everything a once over. Here are the 40 parts of your car that Toyota recommends you focus on to give your car a thorough clean: 1. Exterior door handles 2. Frame of door and roof 3. Interior door release 4. Window switches 5. Interior door handle 6. Door pocket 7. Seatbelts 8. Seatbelt clips 9. Seat adjust buttons 10. Steering wheel 11. Horn 12. Control stalks 13. Driver air vents 14. Dashboard 15. Power button 16. Gear shift 17. Multimedia screen 18. Central air vents 19. Heating controls 20. Glovebox 21. Log book 22. Central storage compartment 23. Cupholders 24. Rear-view mirror 25. Interior lights 26. Grab handle 27. Key 28. Head rests 29. Seat pockets 30. Rear central tab 31. Fuel cap 32. Wheel valves 33. Boot lid 34. Parcel shelf 35. Boot floor tab 36. Boot close button 37. Bonnet lid 38. Washer cap 39. Dipstick 40. Oil cap
The Government recently announced that any car for which the MOT is due to expire after 30 March will be granted an extension of six months. This means you’ll still be able to drive your car, even if the MOT expires from 1 April until 30 August, providing you make sure your road tax and insurance are up to date. You must still keep your car in roadworthy condition, however. If you drive with tyres that don’t have the legal minimum amount of tread left, for example, you may still be fined or given penalty points if you’re pulled over by the police. If your car is due a service then, unfortunately, it will have to wait. However, the timescales are not strict with services, so a few weeks leeway here and there won’t be an issue. Some dealerships are keeping their service departments open, albeit at reduced capacity, to keep the cars of key workers safe and on the road. If that applies to you, check with your local dealer.
Although people are being told to stay at home, using a car will be an inevitable requirement for many, even if it isn’t as regular an occurrence as it would normally be. But what happens if you get a puncture or your car breaks down? The high levels of rain over the winter means that there are lots of potholes on the roads. Equally, using your car less often might mean you end up with a flat battery. If you get a puncture and are able to change a wheel yourself then you are fine to do so at the side of the road in the same way as you always would, so long as you maintain the 2m distance to anyone that may stop to help. The normal laws of the road apply, though, so you should still call for assistance from a breakdown company if you are on the motorway. The good news is that the major breakdown companies will still come out to you if your car breaks down for whatever reason. The AA, Green Flag and the RAC all say that drivers’ safety remains their top priority, although they have put precautions in place to protect drivers and breakdown technicians alike. The RAC says: “Please let us know if you have symptoms or have been diagnosed when you call our breakdown line so we can take the necessary precautions when helping you. “When our patrol arrives, please keep a safe distance of at least two metres away.” They also say that their drivers will use latex protective gloves, hand sanitising gel and wipes to clean surfaces they touch in cars. Green Flag says they are following the latest guidance when it is updated, while the AA says it should be able to help in most circumstances. It says that those who have symptoms, have been diagnosed or have been asked to self isolate will be told what to do when they call to report the breakdown. The exception may be European travel. Both the AA and the RAC say their coverage is continuing with restrictions. Green Flag goes a little further by saying: “Any customers who already have European cover, don’t worry, you’re still covered. This is the case for any customers with an active Single-trip European, Annual Multi-trip European, or Euro Plus policy.” However, all three urge drivers to check the latest Government advice before travelling.
Thankfully, many fuel stations already have gloves laid on for public use at the pumps. They are normally used by those that don’t want to get fuel on their hands, but they provide a handy means of keeping your hands protected while handling the pumps. If the station you are refuelling at has run out of the gloves, though, then the same advice remains true – wash your hands at the service station’s bathroom or use hand sanitiser if no such facilities exist. For electric car drivers concerned about charging up their car on a public charger, the owner of the biggest UK charging network, BP Chargemaster, has stated: “We recommend that customers follow government advice when it comes to washing your hands regularly, specifically before and after using any public charging point – not just those on the Polar and Charge Your Car networks. Given the official advice about avoiding restaurants, pubs and cafes for social distancing purposes, we recommend the use of hand sanitiser gels before and after using charging points.”
The advice is to stay at home. However if you have to travel into central London as of 23 March 2020, the charging zones have been “temporarily suspended” so no-one will be charged for driving into the centre of London. This has been done to help key workers avoid public transport so as to avoid spreading infection. This means that the Congestion Charge, the LEZ and the ULEZ won’t apply as normal right now. Transport for London is also providing a code to NHS workers to waive the initial fee for renting a Santander bike so the first 30 minutes is free. It will also be moving more bikes to stations close to hospitals. Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “This is not an invitation to take to your cars. To save lives we need the roads clear for ambulances, doctors, nurses and other critical workers. This is an unprecedented time and I know Londoners are doing everything they can to look after each other. I continue to urge all Londoners to follow the advice of public health authorities and not leave their homes unless it is absolutely essential.” Congestion Charge (sometimes known as C-Charge) – applies from 07.00 to 18.00, Monday to Friday, £11.50 a day. Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) – for vehicles that don’t meet up to certain emissions standards, applies 24 hours a day, seven days a week all year apart from Christmas Day, £12.50 a day (on top of the C-Charge). Lorries over 3.5 tonnes and buses or coaches over 5.0 tonnes pay £100 a day. Low Emission Zone (LEZ) – on top of the C-Charge and ULEZ, for commercial vehicles operates all day, every day of the year including Christmas Day. £100 for vans or specialist diesel vehicles (over 1.205 tonnes unladen weight up to 3.5 tonnes gross vehicle weight) or minibuses (up to 5 tonnes) that don’t meet requirements. £200 for HGVs, lorries, vans and specialist heavy vehicles over 3.5 tonnes as well as buses/minibuses and coaches over 5 tonnes.
Coronavirus and other car appointments
Home chargers for electric cars are installed by different companies, so it is best to check with your provider to see the latest advice. The biggest network, BP Chargemaster, said: "Following the latest government advice to only go outside for necessary food, health reasons or essential work, we have taken the decision to temporarily stop all Homecharge and commercial charge point surveys and installations, as well as our production, development and testing facilities." If you were due to have a survey or installation BP Chargemaster says these appointments will be postponed until a later date.
Sadly your driving test will have to wait for the time being. The Government has suspended all driving tests, except for key workers, until the summer. There is no more information on when your driving test will be rescheduled to just yet, but the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says that it will rebook it “free of charge, as soon as possible”. It adds: “DVSA will send you another email with the new date and time as soon as it’s been rebooked.” Theory tests, however, will be automatically refunded and not rebooked. Don’t worry if you don’t have an email through confirming that just yet, it might take a few weeks to arrive, says the DVSA. “You should not try to rebook your test right now,” says the official statement. “The DVSA will email you when you can book again.
As of Friday 20 March, speed awareness courses have been suspended. If you were due on a course then this will now not be taking place and new courses will not be offered for a period of 12 weeks. A statement by NDORS (the National Driver Offending Retraining Scheme) says: “We will now work with forces and course providers to establish options to deal with drivers who have already been offered a course and advise you to contact your course provider for further details on how this will be achieved.” This also means that new courses will not be offered for the time being, as the statement says: “As a result of the unprecedented unfolding events, Chief Constable Bangham, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) lead for Roads Policing believes that it is no longer appropriate nor proportionate for police forces to offer classroom-based education courses, which brings members of the public together in one place, as an alternative to prosecution for motoring offences covered by NDORS. This position fully supports the Prime Ministers direction to close schools, nurseries, and other educational establishments and to reduce social contact with others.”
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