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Coronavirus - Advice for car drivers

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Updated 16 Jun 2020

Rowan Johnstone

As the COVID-19 Coronavirus continues to impact all areas of day to day life, things as normal as driving your car have been thrown into doubt.

At the moment, nothing is really business as usual, with governments in all states requesting that Australians stay at home in order to stop the virus from spreading.

They have asked that all non-essential travel be cancelled, but things, like going to work and going to get groceries, are still allowed.

So what does this all mean for driving your car? Can you still get fuel? Can you still get roadside assistance? What happens if you’re in an accident, will there be tow trucks and emergency services available?

We’re here to answer all your questions and put your mind at ease.

Fuelling up

Petrol stations have been declared an essential service, meaning that along with grocery stores, they will remain open in the event of a complete lockdown.

So if you find yourself on your way to work or getting supplies and your fuel light turns on, there should be no dramas in getting fuel for your car.

Caltex even has an app where you can pay for your fuel from the comfort of your own car, meaning you can reduce your contact with other people when fuelling up!

Roadside assistance

Businesses such as RACV, RACQ and Youi still have Roadside Assistance service running, but they’ve noted a few changes in the way this service is delivered.

First of all, when you ring up, you’ll be asked some questions regarding your health. This includes whether you’re currently unwell, whether you’ve recently been overseas or whether you’ve been tested for COVID-19. Remember, answering these questions truthfully will help make sure everyone remains healthy.

Of course, there are many other roadside services available, so it’s not possible for us to check them all. If you’re a member of any other roadside assistance programs, you’ll need to check with them individually to see what services they’re offering during COVID-19.

Accident assistance

Emergency services, including Police, Ambulance and Fire, will still be operating during a lockdown. If you get in an accident and need emergency assistance, still call 000 as you normally would to access these services.

If your car is badly damaged and you need a tow truck, get in contact with your insurance company, as they should be able to organise a tow truck for you. Again, you may be asked certain questions about your health, just to protect the health of the tow truck operator.

If you haven’t got insurance, you can use AutoGuru to find a local tow truck service. Operating hours may vary between different services as each business adjusts to the challenges presented by COVID-19.

Car insurance claims

If you’ve been in an accident and you need to make an insurance claim, you may need to have a little bit of patience as businesses adapt to the current situation.

With most Australian business taking large steps to help reduce the spread of COVID-19, such as working from home or reducing rostered staff numbers, customers should expect at least some delay or changes in the way they make a claim.

Most companies, such as Youi, have great online tools that allow customers to easily and quickly make a claim.

Finding out what different methods you can use to make a claim with your insurance provider may make it easier for you, should you need to make a claim.

Car repairs and servicing

Car repairs seem to come around at the most inconvenient time, so whilst everything else in the country winds down to some extent, it’s a good idea to be prepared if something goes wrong with your car.

At the moment, many mechanical workshops and mobile services are still operating. Head over to this article to find out how you can safely get your car serviced or repaired during COVID-19.

If you’re not driving anywhere

If a shutdown was to last a few months, there are some things you need to be careful of if you’re not planning to drive your car at all during this time.

For one, your car battery will most likely go flat. To prevent this, you can purchase a trickle charger, which will keep your battery ticking along whilst your car isn’t being used.

Your tyres may also develop flat spots from sitting in the spot, and these will be exaggerated if you let tyres deflate. Minor flat spots on inflated tyres will work themselves out once you start driving again, however, if your car has been sitting for a while, your first stop should be a service station to check your tyre pressures.

Another good idea is to make sure your petrol tank is full before parking up to avoid corrosion or rust building up inside.

Battery and tyre problems can be resolved by taking your car out for a drive once or twice a week. If you can, try to do a mix of driving at various speed limits, including on the motorway.

This will also put your brakes, gearbox, suspension, driveline and other key components through their paces, making them ready once you start driving regularly again.

Once things return to normal and you begin daily driving your car again, you really should get it checked out by a mechanic to make sure everything is working the way it should be. Making sure your car is safe for the roads is super important.

If you’re keen to know about how you can look after your car, here's an article that outlines some more simple car maintenance tips.

The most important thing

The most important thing that you can do during this time is to follow the advice of the health authorities and the Australian Government.

The quicker we stop the spread of COVID-19, the quicker things can return to normal. Stay hygienic and if you’re unwell, keep yourself isolated.

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Written By

Rowan Johnstone

On weekdays Rowan can be found in the AutoGuru office, driving content and growth with the rest of the marketing team.

On weekends you’ll probably find him in the garage with his father restoring a 1958 Ford Star Model Customline or enjoying a cruise through the Gold Coast hinterland on his Suzuki GSX-R600.

Despite his passion for being behind the wheel (or handlebars), he looks forward to the day when he can commute to work in his own driverless car.