Coronavirus: What precautions should I take when visiting car dealerships?

While in the midst of this global pandemic, the UK government has issued guidance for British citizens to practise social distancing, which means avoiding large gatherings or attending closed spaces with a number of people.

However, while working from home and limiting non-essential travel – particularly for high-risk individuals or those showing coronavirus symptoms – are recommended, life can carry on if you’re careful.

Many car dealerships and service centres continue to be open for business, so if you need a new vehicle or repairs to take place – particularly if you’re keen to avoid public transport on government advice – here’s some advice on how you can stay safe, as well as the measures dealers are taking to stop the spread of the virus.

Question whether you need to actually go to the dealer at all

Audi dealership
While it might be tempting to carry on life as normal, car dealerships can see high footfall, with people from all walks of life passing through, touching doors and vehicles. We’ll outline the ways dealers are minimising risk below, but to avoid you potentially catching anything or even passing something on unwittingly, avoid travelling where possible.

Specialist car retailer Redline has also issued guidance alongside the measures it is taking to keep its customers safe, saying: “We respectfully ask that all visitors to our premises and those who have direct contact with our staff advise us if they have been to any of the affected locations listed on the government website or if you have had to self-isolate due to potential exposure to the virus.”

This is also good practice when visiting any car dealership. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy that new or used car, though…

Use a ‘buy online’ service

Buying online

A number of car manufacturers and dealer franchises now offer ‘buy online’ services that mean you never have to set foot in a dealership.

Imperial Cars, for example, has a ‘Click, Call, Collect/Delivery’ service, with prospective buyers able to get a detailed look at a car from home and have it delivered to their door.

Manufacturers including Ford, Mitsubishi and Dacia also have their own online services that promise similar service.

Ask what dealers are doing to reduce the spread of disease

The government has issued advice to all workplaces and employers to encourage staff to wash their hands more regularly and clean surfaces more often, so perhaps call ahead to check with the dealer to ensure this takes place.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update.

— ŠKODA UK (@SKODAUK) March 17, 2020

Car manufacturers are taking steps to ensure their own retail areas and franchised dealers are taking care, with Skoda releasing a statement to say it is ‘open for business as usual’, adding ‘we are working with our retailer network to take the appropriate actions to maintain the safety of our staff and customers’.

Ford told the PA news agency that the Ford-owned dealer network Trust Ford was also still open for business, with collection and delivery services available for Motability customers where possible. It added: “In addition to usual rigorous product and workshop cleaning processes, vehicle touch points including steering wheel, indicator & wiper stalks, gear lever & door handles are being additionally wiped with anti-bacterial sanitiser prior to handover.”

Redline and Imperial Cars both said they were adding additional hand sanitisers and wash stations in their dealerships and increasing the amount of cleaning that takes place.

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