Only a few weeks ago, everyone’s lives were once again turned upside down by an almost complete national lockdown. Most of the country was placed under the strictest new Tier 4 restrictions, with travel only allowed under a specific set of circumstances, and stay-at-home orders enforced for millions of people in huge swathes of the country.
So if you were about to buy a new, used or salvage car for any reason, one of your first questions is probably going to be: can I still buy a car during lockdown? The answer is essentially yes, but with some important caveats. Here’s what you need to know.
Which areas are in Tier 4?
Right now it’s basically most of the country. That includes the majority of the South West and South East of England, as well as the Midlands, the North East and the North West. In all areas, there’s stay-at-home order being enforced.
This information is obviously subject to change, as the situation is constantly evolving. Therefore, we’d recommend checking the government’s list of local restriction tiers by area, which will give an even fuller and more up-to-date impression of the regions that are currently affected.
At the time of writing, mainland Scotland is also operating to similar restrictions, and Wales remains under the effect of a full lockdown that was instigated in December 2020.
Your questions about car dealerships
Can I still buy a new or used car during lockdown?
Yes you can, although all purchases can currently only be made online. (In case you’re wondering, our online vehicle auctions are continuing as normal here at RAW2K.)
Car dealerships are classed as non-essential retail locations, which means that you won’t be able to visit one in person, and if you’ve recently bought a new car then brace yourself for it to be delayed due to the logistics complications induced by the pandemic. However, you’ll probably find that less of an issue if you’re only buying a car with the intention of breaking it apart for parts - in which case test drives and its overall working condition probably won’t be quite as much of a concern.
Either way, it’s a good idea to check whether the vendor is offering ‘disinfected delivery’, where they’ll clean the car before it reaches you.
Are car dealers open in Tier 4?
No. Car dealerships are classed as non-essential retail locations, which means that legally they’ve been closed since December. Where possible, the majority have shifted their operations online, offering new and salvage cars for sale via websites and click-and-collect services.
Can I go for a test drive in Tier 4?
Categorically no. By law, all sales of new and used cars currently have to be completed remotely, so that means no face-to-face contact, and no test drives. The government rules permit a handover to be made as part of a click-and-collect service, but not much else.
You might reasonably be wondering how you can compare your potential purchases in the meantime, but happily there are a couple of useful alternative ways available to do so. You can watch video reviews from trusted outlets for example, or see who offers live video inspections of the car in question.
Your questions about car maintenance
Am I exempt from an MOT in Tier 4?
No. All drivers must ensure that their car’s scheduled MOT tests are carried out as normal. While the first lockdown in early 2020 allowed drivers a six-month respite from their MOT tests, the government understandably isn’t keen on having to hand out another one, and so drivers must ensure that they still take their car to their MOT test.
If you know that your MOT is coming up, it’s also a good idea to get it booked early, as some garages are still dealing with the backlog of MOT bookings from the first lockdown. (That’s just part of the reason that the government doesn’t want to do it again!) If you think that you might have difficulty getting your car to its MOT test on the other hand, and you find yourself driving very little at the moment, you might want to consider obtaining a Statutory Off Road Notice, or SORN.
A SORN indefinitely excuses you from having to pay tax or insurance on your car, although the trade off is that you cannot legally drive it, and that it literally has to be off the road - i.e., not parked in the street, but in a garage or private driveway. It’s alright if your MOT expires while your car is off the road, but when you plan on driving it again, your very first journey legally has to be to a test centre for a pre-booked MOT test.
Can I get my car serviced in Tier 4?
Yes. It’s the same principle as your MOT - car services and repairs have been deemed essential throughout all lockdowns, and this hasn’t changed with the introduction of the latest restrictions. Therefore, garages and car dealerships will be offering these essential services as normal.
At the time of writing, the government is due to review the current lockdown measures in a few weeks, at which point we’ll find out when the nation’s car dealerships can re-open. Until that point, you can trust us here at RAW2K to continue providing you with a fantastic range of used, seized and salvage cars to choose from in our online car auctions, including models from a range of leading manufacturers including Volkswagen, Nissan and Audi. Why not take a look around our site, and see what you can find?