The buying and selling of vehicles in the UK received yet another blow after the prime minister addressed the press on Sunday, 20 December. Due to a sudden upsurge in COVID-19 cases and coronavirus’s potential to grow swiftly across the region, Boris Johnson has introduced new tier 4 restrictions in London, the southeast and east of England.
The prime minister announced that the new tier 4 constraints require non-essential shops, cinemas, gyms, and much more to close effective from Sunday, 20 December. The new regulations also require car dealerships, as they fall under non-essential retail, close down from Sunday and return to click-and-collect solution.
The government has imposed the same restrictions on areas operating under tier 3 in London, the southeast and east of England. The tier 4 areas will observe vehicles’ remote trading, as they will be subject to the same constraints of the last national lockdown.
But how the new limitations will affect the buying and selling of vehicles in tier 4? From our second lockdown experience, here’s what we can assume and understand regarding vehicle-trade in tier-4.
Where is Tier 4 applicable?
The latest tier 4 restrictions apply in East of England comprising Peterborough, Hertfordshire, Essex (except Tendring, Uttlesford, and Colchester), Luton, Milton Keynes, Bedford, Central Bedford, as well as London (the City of London and all 32 municipalities).
Moreover, the limitations apply in the South East of England that previously fell under tier 3. It includes Berkshire, Surrey (except Waverley), Hastings, Rother, Portsmouth, Havant, Gosport, Buckinghamshire, and Kent.
Can you buy a car in Tier 4?
Yes, you can buy a new or used car in tier 4 from dealerships but only through their website. As showrooms fall under non-essential retail, they cannot operate normally now, and they have to utilise the click-and-collect solution.
Since tier 4 follows the same restrictions as the second national lockdown, customers cannot physically browse the car collection and take them for a test drive.
The new regulations allow only remote purchases of vehicles. The only interaction permissible is the collection of automobiles as a part of the click-and-collect solution.
Can you physically browse through new vehicles in a dealership?
No, you cannot. The new tier 4 regulations force vehicle dealers to shut down their dealerships, including the car lots. Hence, physically browsing the vehicles in a showroom is not a possibility.
Car dealers also need to take extra measures to prevent people from trespassing into the vehicle lots. During the second lockdown, many vehicle dealers observed such precautions by fencing off their property. Considering the same level of constraints, it would be wise to take such actions in tier 4.
Can there be a delay in the delivery of your new car?
Yes, there is a possibility that the pandemic may cause a delay in the delivery of your new car. To get an exact idea of how long your vehicle’s release will take, we recommend getting in touch with your dealer directly. Logistics companies also cause interruptions when delivering your car to the dealership as they exercise additional protective measures for their staff.
If you are looking for a short delivery time, shop for the vehicles currently in stock at the dealerships. But you have to make a sacrifice here. These stock cars might not have the specifications you are after.
Can you physically choose a used vehicle from a dealership?
No, the same rules apply to the purchase of a used car. Although you can buy a car from a dealership, you can only complete the inspection and booking process through the internet or on the phone.
The majority of car dealers have already figured out alternatives. These ensure that you go through the same convenient process to purchase your vehicles. You can browse pictures of cars available on the well-developed dealer websites from the comfort of home. Some car sellers are even prepared to video call the customers to offer a personalised buying experience.
Can you get your car repaired in tier 4?
Yes, car servicing and repairs are essential services and hence are open in tier 4. During all previous lockdowns, car service and repair garages operated as normal and will continue to do so in the new tier-4 limitations.
What does the new restriction mean for MOT?
You still need an MOT certificate even if you are in tier 4 areas. Driving a car without an MOT can result in severe penalties. We recommend you to book an MOT test through us well before its expiry. If you are unsure of MOT expiry, take our free car check.
Exemption from MOT in tier 4 areas seems highly improbable. It is advisable to book your spot for an MOT examination as early as possible. The reason is most of the garages are experiencing an accumulation of MOTs due in the first lockdown. The extension granted on MOTs from the first lockdown made the job even harder for these garages.
We advise you to conduct MOT tests for the foreseeable future, as they are an essential service under the new tier 4 limitations. As the government instructed to conduct MOTs normally under the second lockdown, the same regulations are likely to follow in the new tier 4 restrictions.
Are Car Dealers in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland open for Customers?
Car dealerships are not open in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland as these states are observing their respective lockdown periods.
Wales entered into a lockdown effective from Sunday, 20 December. The lockdown requires all but essential shops, including car dealerships, to close down. Car dealers in Wales are returning to the click-and-collect solution.
Northern Ireland is ready to enter a six-week lockdown effective from Saturday, 26 December. During this period, vehicle dealers cannot even utilise the click-and-collect facility.
Scotland is also ready to enter the Level 4 restriction from the morning of Saturday, 26 December. Auto dealerships, being non-essential retail, will close during this period. Scotland is likely to follow the same regulations as England for car dealerships. The dealers will exercise the click-and-collect feature.