Coronavirus: What the new lockdown measures mean for car buying

Georgia Petrie

Written by

Georgia Petrie

Volkswagen Scirocco heycar
  • How the lockdown will affect car purchases 
  • What is click and collect and is it safe?
  • Found out whether you can still take a test drive

On November 5th, England went into a second national lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but what exactly does that mean for those in the market for a new or used car?

Well, it means showrooms have had to close and stay shut until 2nd December 2020 (provisionally) as they’re not deemed an essential business. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t buy a car. In fact, since the first lockdown in March, many shops have vastly improved their online shopping experience - including car retailers.

So, it's now possible to buy a new or used car without leaving the comfort of your home. But what about test drives and collection? Read on to find out everything you need to know if you’re looking to buy a car over lockdown.

Click and Collect

The Coronavirus outbreak has forced thousands of showrooms to close in the UK, but that doesn't mean they aren't open for business. Far from it, the traditional car showroom has moved online with dealers offering ‘click and collect’ services.

Click and collect is a service car dealers provide when they sell a vehicle online and then allow you to collect it from their forecourt. This service isn't new - some dealers have been offering online buying services for a few years - but the outbreak of COVID-19 has seen click and collect services become more popular with car buyers.

How does click and collect work?

Put simply, you pay for the car that takes your fancy - either online or over the phone usually - and then collect it from the dealer's forecourt.

If you’re going for this option, just remember you’ll need a face covering and you’ll need to follow social distancing. Due to the lockdown restrictions, you won’t be able to enter the dealership or use any of their facilities so wrap up warm and come prepared!

Can I go for a test drive?

Some dealers may offer solo test drives on trade plates, but unfortunately test drives with social distancing aren’t allowed in England during this lockdown. However, this will be dependent on the dealer - so if you want to test drive before you buy, it might make sense to wait until this is possible.

We recommend always checking the latest government guidance to see what’s safe under the current rules.

Can I have the car delivered to my home?

While it is up to each dealer to decide what collection format best suits them best, common practice right now is to send and receive digital signatures and paperwork via email, along with digital payments to issue the deposit or opening balance of the vehicle finance.

Some car dealers will be happy to deliver the vehicle to your house. They may charge you for this service or include it in the price of the car though, so always check beforehand to avoid being caught out by extra fees.

If the vehicle is delivered to your home, the keys will be sanitised and posted through your letterbox in an envelope.

Is click and collect safe?

Buying online does not impede your consumer rights. If you buy the car remotely and have it delivered to your door, you may get extra peace of mind from the Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 - commonly known as the ‘Distance Selling Regulations’.

The dealer should make it clear if the sale falls under the Distance Selling Regulations, but we recommend checking this before you agree to the sale.

If you’ve placed a deposit on a new or used car - online or over the phone - the Distance Selling Regulations will give you the right to cancel the order within 14 days and receive a full refund of your deposit.

After you've paid for the car in full and accepted delivery, you also have the right to change your mind and reject the car within 14 days and receive a full refund - and you don’t need to give a reason either.

Remember, the Distance Selling Regulations does not apply if you visit the dealer's forecourt to collect the car, pay the deposit or sign any forms or documentation. The law also gives some dealers the right to make a single one-off remote sale, without the Distance Selling Regulations coming into force. But they must tell you this in advance of the sale.

And for further reassurance, the 2015 Consumer Rights Act gives you the theoretical right to reject the car within 30 days of purchase should you find any fault or reason to.

Can I buy a used car online?

Yes, both new and used cars are offered via the click & collect or delivery service. The dealer may request a prior 'virtual meeting' to discuss the car for sale and the condition of the vehicle you may be trading-in.

They might also ask you to provide a walk around video of the trade-in car and make a verbal offer, based on the information you give them.

How long does a click and collect sale take to complete?

Getting your new or used car could take anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks depending on delivery times, but the dealership will discuss all these details with you ahead of time so you’ll know exactly where you stand before you put any money down.

What about the rest of the UK?

Scotland is under Protection Levels ranging from 0 to 3 at the time of writing. Car showrooms are currently allowed to be open in Protection Levels 0, 1, 2 and 3 in Scotland - but don’t travel to a dealership if you feel at all unwell.

As well as this, test drives with social distancing are still allowed in Protection Levels 0, 1, 2 and 3 of Scotland. Remember that in the dealership, social distancing will be in place, and you’ll need to wear a face covering.

A ‘firebreak’ is currently underway in Wales until Monday 9th November, so car showrooms are closed as part of this lockdown. Please don’t travel to Welsh dealerships during this time.

Car showrooms are currently allowed to be open in Northern Ireland, but make sure you’re following Government and local social distancing guidelines, and remember you’ll have to wear a face covering in car showrooms.

See also: 

What the latest COVID-19 measures mean for car buying

Coronavirus: Lockdown 2.0 myths debunked

How the pandemic now sees millions working from their cars