Coronavirus (COVID-19): Your motoring questions answered

Motoring advice

The effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic continue to deepen, and drivers face uncertain times ahead. With the government advising that all non-essential travel should stop, this leaves car drivers with lots of unanswered questions around car tax, insurance and their MoT tests.

I'll answer your queries as best I can, using Parkers' direct access to the car manufacturers and other leading organisations where I need to. We're in this together and as we're in a constantly-shifting landscape right now, getting good, solid advice is absolutely essential.

So, if you have a question for Parkers, please drop me a line by email. I'll try and answer as many as I can personally, and a selection of these, which have been anonymised will be published below.

Your questions answered

>> MoT tests
>> Car insurance
>> Car finance
>> Car warranties
>> Car buying
>> Car driving

Other useful links on Parkers

>> General Coronavirus (COVID-19) advice
>> MoT test exemption for six months
>> What to do if you're parking your car for an extended period
>> What to do when starting your car after a long period of inactivity

Here is a selection of your questions

MoT Tests

Is there any news on whether garages are doing the MoT? Mine's due on shut down - as a disabled driver it’s worrying?

Until 24 March 2020, this was a grey area. The official line was that any MoT tests due were to be completed and many garages remained open to do them. However, this has now changed and all MoTs are exempted for six months for any car that's due a test from 30 March 2020 - this is so key workers, and those using their cars for essential journeys can still use their car if the MoT runs out during the crisis. However, one word of warning, the car does need to be roadworthy, so please check your tyres, brakes and lights.

I went in to hospital with pneumonia and was then confirmed COVID-19 positive. Released to go home four days later to continue my recovery and remain in isolation for a further 10 days. My car's MoT ran out on 20 March, and obviously I couldn't take it in. However, I do have my car booked for an MoT and service on 1 May, but can I drive my car until I can have it MoT'd?

Thanks for your email, sorry to hear of your illness, and glad you’re on the road to recovery. Sadly, your car doesn’t fall under the MoT extension, so is now not MoT’d. So, legally you can’t drive it unless you’re (or someone else on your behalf is) taking it to a pre-arranged MoT test. Probably best to rest up and stay safe.

I have just returned from six months abroad and my car ran out of MoT and tax in January. The car was not SORN'd and I have changed address. How can I tax my car, and will the MoT rule be allowed on my car as it ran out two months ago?

No, your car isn't covered by the MoT extension and you will owe the outstanding tax on it. What you should do is immediately SORN the car (declare it off-road), and re-MoT it once a space in a garage opens up for it. Once it's tested, you can tax it again – and you'll be liable for the time it was un-taxed. If the car was off the road while you were away, then you won't have been committing any offences other than not declaring it off-road or re-taxing it in your absence. Generally, the DVLA favours clawing back lost tax where a car has been undeclared for a short amount of time like this.

More here: MoT tests during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Car insurance

My son will be unable to use his car for three months months due to self-isolation. His car is taxed and MoT’d and he wants to keep it until he is able to use it again. Will I be able to insure his car in my name as the policyholder and driver, even though he is the owner and keeper as I may need to drive it a few miles each week?

It's perfectly legal to insure his car in your name (as long as his insurance has been cancelled) for the purposes of driving and storing. You will be asked by the insurance company if the car is registered in your name - to which you will say it's your son's. Once that's established, the insurance process will continue as normal, and the policy amount will be adjusted accordingly.

My insurance is due next week with 12 years no claims bonus fully comprehensive. Should I renew as normal or wait until I can get out again, has anything been said by the industry?

My advice would be to insure as normal, as the car is covered for any damage that may occur while it is parked up. Lee Griffin, founder and CEO of GoCompare says, 'Insurers have automatically extended the cover of customers who are working from home because of self-isolation or Government advice, if their work is clerical. Likewise, policies of employees who are required to drive to work will not be affected, nor will the insurance of people using their own car to deliver medicines or groceries to support others.'

He adds: 'If you’re about to renew cover or buy a policy for the first time it is important to arrange cover suitable for your normal life – rather than the current restrictions. Otherwise, you will probably have to pay an increased premium and amendment fee for altering your insurance when life gets back to normal.'   

Car finance

I’ve recently had an email about the possibility of holiday payments of up to three months for my van payments. With the recent climate change, I'm in need of taking this holiday payment out. How do I go about setting this up?

You should speak to your finance company as soon as possible if you need to take a payment holiday. There's general advice elsewhere on Parkers, where you'll be able to find out what every car manufacturer is offering to people who might be struggling to meet payments as a result of the effects of the pandemic one one of the pages listed below. But the concensus across all manufacturers' finance companies is that you should be able to take a payment holiday of up to three months, but requests are being evaluated on a case-by-case basis – just make sure you get talking to them nice and early.

>> Read more: Car finance payment holiday information
>> Read more: Van finance payment holiday information

Car warranties

My franchised garage is now closed until further notice. If I don’t have my annual service carried out on time (because I can’t find anywhere to do it) will my warranty be affected?

There's a list of who's doing what (as we know right now) in the link below, but every manufacturer I have spoken to so far has said that as long as you request a service centrally by a customer services number, and they have a record of it on the system, you should be covered. In other words, your warranty will be covered if you book a service – although some companies are also putting a mileage cap of between 1,500-1,800 miles.

For example, Fiat says, ‘if a car is due a service the customers should use the FCA online booking facility to make a booking for a future time that is suitable or contact our Customer Services Centre who will register the concern and provide them with a case number which can be referred to once the workshop reopens. This will protect their warranty.’

>> More information on car warranties in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis

Car buying

We signed to purchase a new car three weeks ago. The plan was to buy it on PCP and sell the car separately. Along comes the ramp-up of Coronavirus, and our freelance work has dried up. I asked the dealer to cancel the order, which they have agreed to, but they are retaining the £500 deposit. Do you have any advice?

I suspect that a quick call to the car company's head office will elicit the return of your deposit. It’s very much under ‘ethical’ given the exceptional circumstances we find ourselves in. If it's a franchised dealer that's independently-owned, you will need to contact the dealer principal directly, and discuss on an individual basis - this might not be practical until after the crisis has passed though.

Car driving

I'm a key worker, and I give a lift home to one of my co-workers. Is this allowed, as we are from different households?

The government view is you shouldn't share a car with a non-family member, and I'd agree with that. You're perfectly entitled to refuse if you're being pushed by am employer, citing government recommendations on social distancing – and the non-transmission of the virus.

My father has a live-in carer and cover carers who pop in when the main carer is on a break. The cover carers are saying they won't come if anyone in the house contracts the virus, as they have other patients to look after. If this does happen, I'll be the one doing the cover caring. I live 150 miles away so I'll need to stay on site until the virus goes away. My question is, once everyone in the house has recovered, will I be allowed to travel back to my home and my partner?

Currently your need to return home would come under ‘essential travel’, so this would be fine under current government advice. However, this situation is always changing, and I’d recommend against making more than one of these 150-mile journeys.

Can I have any other passengers in my car even if they're not from the same household (just to get out house and go for a run/drive for self sanity)? Also, do the police issue a fine if you do have anyone in vehicle that's not from same household?

The government advice is simple on this: You should drive alone or with someone from your household only. What you’re describing isn't travelling 'only when absolutely necessary', and if you were to be stopped at a checkpoint, the police would certainly send you back home with a telling off and probably a fine.

Please do keep sending in your questions, and I will try and answer them as quickly as possible. If I don't know the answer, I'll forward the question to an industry expert to further advise on.