The Motor Ombudsman answers motorists’ coronavirus FAQs

The Motor Ombudsman is the automotive industry’s dispute resolution body. It’s a fully impartial organisation that provides codes of practice for companies to allow the industry to regulate itself, and gives consumers the ability to hold these companies to account when things go wrong.

The coronavirus is providing unprecedented problems for the industry to overcome, so it has updated the guidance on its site to answer some of the most frequently asked questions from consumers. Got a dispute that might need resolving? Here are some of the answers that might help…

Car finance and redundancies

Speaking to the finance provider if you’ve lost your job and cannot afford the monthly repayments should be the first thing you do. However, although The Motor Ombudsman cannot directly help, it can point you to the organisations that can.

Can I test drive a car before I buy it?

It is advised that while dealers will be taking all the necessary precautions to avoid transmission of the virus, consumers are advised to act in accordance with government advice. At the time of writing, that advice is to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.

Some dealers and manufacturers might offer the ability to buy the car online and have it delivered, which would also give you 14 days to return it for a full refund.

My car needs a service but my garage is closed

Although workshops are allowed to stay open under government lockdown rules, many dealer groups have shut their doors and cannot currently accept vehicles for servicing.

The Motor Ombudsman recommends contacting them by phone or email to rearrange a date, and advises that while your service plan should not be invalidated if you miss an appointment through closure, you should check with your provider.

Will my warranty be invalidated if I can’t service my car because I’m self-isolating?

Under the New Car Code, your warranty cannot be invalidated because you missed a service – only if your lack of care caused a fault on the car.

Furthermore, most manufacturers have grace periods of around one month or 1,000 miles, so unless you have to self-isolate or remain at home beyond that you should be fine. Either way, if you’re concerned about missing a service you should contact the manufacturer to find out if they have a solution.

My car MOT runs out before the March 30 deadline but I can’t get it done in time

The government has announced that MOTs that run out after March 30 will be exempt from requiring a renewal. However, if your MOT runs out before then but you’re self-isolating and can’t get a new one, unfortunately it is recommended that you declare your car SORN (statutory off road notice), which means you can’t drive it. You can, however, apply for an MOT once your self-isolation period is over.

Is The Motor Ombudsman still accepting cases?

If you have a motor industry issue that you haven’t been able to resolve yourself, you can still submit your case to the ombudsman. Its staff are all working from home but can still be reached on the phone during normal office hours.

For the full list of questions and answers, search for ‘The Motor Ombudsman Knowledge Base’ and select ‘Coronavirus / Covid-19’.

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