Can I buy a car during the Covid-19 lockdown? Dealers reopen today

National lockdowns have kept dealers closed but they're back as of today. Here’s how you can buy a new or used car in all parts of the UK

England entered its third national lockdown in January 2020, with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland employing similar measures. Three months later, on 12 April, the Government has implemented a major lifting of restrictions.

This means car dealerships - which are classed as non-essential retailers and, as such, have remained closed under local and national lockdown restrictions since before Christmas - have finally been allowed to reopen their doors to the public

The UK car industry is worth more than £82 billion in turnover, and adds £18.6 billion of value to the country’s economy as a whole. Both new car registrations and manufacturing took a major hit last year and first impressions suggest 2021 may not be much better.

Read on to find out what buying a car now looks like.

Can I buy a car from a dealership?

Yes, customers can now walk into a showroom to look at a car, test drive it, configure it and buy it. It's hoped this will provide a boost to the industry, as those who don't feel comfortable buying a new or used car entirely online will have an opportunity to kick the tyres.

The experience won't be totally normal, however. It will be mandatory for customers to wear a face mask when visiting a dealership, unless they're medically exempt, and test drives will generally be taken alone rather than with a salesperson in the passenger seat.

This will at least be a more familiar and comfortable experience for many car buyers than purchasing a car remotely.

What Covid restrictions will dealers have in place?

The SMMT (Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders) and NFDA (National Franchised Dealers Association) have released a set of guidance, advising dealerships how they can ensure their showrooms are Covid-secure.

The measures recommend a booking system being implemented, with 'walk-ins' managed in such a way as to allow social distancing at all times. Customers should either come alone or with one other person where possible, and will need to wear facemasks in line with Government restrictions.

Dealers are also encouraged to operate unaccompanied test drives. If this is not possible, accompanied test drives can still take place, but face coverings, ventilation and vehicle sanitisation should all be used to mitigate the risk of contracting Covid-19.

Can I still buy a car using click and collect?

Yes, click and collect services will continue to be offered for those who can't visit a dealership, be that for reasons relating to distance, Covid, or anything else.

Cars bought via click and collect services are ordered online and collected from car dealerships. Delivery services are also still allowed, so dealers can deliver cars to customers' doors. Our sister site BuyaCar is one of many offering a completely online car buying service. 

Going into a dealership to talk to a salesperson, look round a car and go for a test drive, though, is no longer out of the question if this is preferred.

Can I get my car serviced, repaired or MoT tested?

Car servicing, repairs and MoTs weren't interrupted by the third lockdown, so you can take your car to a dealer or garage for any of these services. There has also been no MoT extension scheme like we saw during the first lockdown.

Confused over car finance? Check out our handy guide here...

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