During the COVID-19 lockdown, in nearly every city, only businesses deemed essential are allowed to remain open—and that leaves many people wondering how they can bring their cars in for repair or maintenance.
The good news is, in most places, you can still access vehicle repair shops, though many have reduced operating hours. What’s more, many automotive businesses are making adjustments to provide safer services.
You just need to know what’s available, what’s safe, and what’s smart.
What is Considered Essential in the Auto Industry During the Coronavirus Lockdown?
A car is an essential tool that nearly everyone—including health care workers and first responders—needs to navigate everyday life. That’s why most auto repair shops and parts stores remain open during the stay-at-home order.
From the beginning, the government listed such businesses as essential. But, up until now, dealership showrooms have been a different story. The federal guidelines initially excluded car sales from the list of essential services. Though more recently, after extensive lobbying from industry insiders, the government overturned that decision, and car sales are now considered essential as well.
What are Businesses Doing to Help Make Auto Repair Safe?
Like most other businesses, automotive repair facilities are taking extra steps to keep both customers and workers safe. Many dealerships (and some independent shops) are offering “contactless” vehicle pickup and delivery services that allow customers to stay home.
Also, onsite human-to-human contact is being kept to a minimum.
What’s more, many repair facilities now require employees to take extra precautions, such as using sanitizing wipes, wiping down equipment, and wearing gloves.
Most locations are also making sure workers maintain an adequate distance from one another.
Plus, employees are constantly cleaning all the cars that they touch.
Should I Get My Car Fixed During the COVID-19 Pandemic?
The first thing you want to take into account is the severity of the service in question. If the issue prevents your car from operating safely (or from operating altogether), then you might want to consider getting it fixed as soon as you can.
On the other hand, non-essential services can probably wait.
You also want to consider whether you’ll be driving your car. Individuals who are still commuting to work have a legitimate need to keep their vehicle running right. But for those who are stuck at home, a car is only necessary for emergency situations and grocery store runs (which you can largely avoid by utilizing grocery delivery services).
If you’re more of the latter, make sure to store your car properly during the lockdown to keep it in good working condition.
What About Recall Repairs?
Recalls are designed to address safety concerns and, obviously, you want your car to be safe. But some recalls are more critical than others, so you have to weigh your options.
Call your local dealership to determine the severity of the concern affecting your car. That will give you an idea of whether you should venture in for service as soon as possible.
Currently, What are the Safest Options for Auto Repair?
Fixing your own vehicle is the best option for you while following stay-at-home orders. Replacement car parts are readily available online, so there’s a good chance you’ll never have to leave home for auto repair.
Even if you’ve never worked on your car before, now might be a good time to start learning the basics of auto repair by attempting simple tasks, such as replacing wipers and swapping out light bulbs. If you’re interested in educating yourself on car care, there are plenty of free car repair resources you can check out online.
But of course, DIY car care isn’t for everyone. And fortunately, many professional shops are offering safer auto repair options. For example, as was mentioned, some facilities now provide “contactless” vehicle pickup and delivery service.
Another option is to hire a mobile mechanic service. Mobile mechanics will come to your home and many of them now offer contactless auto repair.
Should you decide to visit a physical auto shop, there are extra steps you can take to stay safe there as well. Be sure to follow all of the general safety guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), including the use of personal protective equipment.
Will the Auto Industry Return to “Normal”?
Like nearly every other sector, the auto industry is facing extraordinary challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Most repair facilities are confronting dwindling business, while sales departments are struggling to stay afloat.
Indeed, the coronavirus outbreak will have some lasting impacts on the auto industry. During the lockdown, there will be repair shops and dealerships that may close their doors for good.
Others are likely to go out of business as a result of the predicted global recession.
The supply chain that feeds the auto industry has also been severely disrupted. Consequently, the availability of parts has become a problem for auto repair businesses. Without the necessary parts, cars can’t get fixed.
Eventually, that could lead to a decline in customer satisfaction that creates long-term, devastating results.
There is, however, some good news. The pandemic could help offset the technician shortage that the auto industry was previously facing. As of April 2, 2020, an unprecedented 9.9 million people applied for unemployment insurance in just two weeks. Presumably, future job seekers will be more open to other positions, such as working as a technician.
When the pandemic comes to an inevitable end, many aspects of daily life will be changed, including car care. But while the auto industry might not immediately rebound, you should be able to get quality auto repair for the foreseeable future.
And that’s a good thing.