If your car needs maintenance or repairs, you need to be careful about taking it into a shop. After all, someone will sit in and probably drive your car. They may touch all sorts of buttons. That’s part of their job, of course.
The question is: can you catch Covid from them being in your car? And the answer appears to be yes. So, then the question is: how can you protect them and will they protect you?
Checking with local mechanics, it was discovered that Walmart closed its automotive centers in some locations for a period of time. They were worried about the liability if their mechanics got sick. Then it became clear that the quarantine would continue, and changes had to be made.
This is true across the industry wherever corporations are involved. They are taking steps to prevent the transmission of the disease. How can you be sure, however, that these measures are enough? Are small locally-owned shops making the needed changes?
With a little research, you’ll be on your way to getting repairs in a safe atmosphere. Here’s what you should know.
The most important thing you can do for your mechanic is to clean out the car and perhaps disinfect as much as possible. On the auto repair shop’s end, though, you should expect protective coverings on the surfaces that a mechanic must touch.
Earnhardt Auto Centers, a large dealership group with 23 service departments and two body shops, covers the steering wheel and seats. They also require their personnel to wear gloves when touching a customer vehicle interior.
Covid 19 Screening
Customers have the right to ask if the business is screening their employees. The shop should be checking temperatures each day. That’s easy to do. Furthermore, they should be asking regularly if their employees have been exposed. They should ask those who are exposed to stay home.
Are they limiting which services you can get? This may be important even at the biggest dealerships or corporate repair shops. If people are out sick or simply quarantined due to a household member’s illness, the company may not have the capacity to do all of the repairs it normally does.
Closed Waiting Room
You may want to check on things like the waiting room. Is it open for short stays? Often large dealerships have shuttle service. Is that available? You may need to make other arrangements if you can’t wait at the dealer and you can’t get a ride somewhere.
If the waiting room is open, what measures are they taking to protect customers? Again, using Earnhardt Auto Centers as an example, dealerships can put the seats far apart, and they can make sure that any customer-to-staff interaction occurs six feet apart.
Hands-Free Drop Off and Pick-up
Many places are willing to allow you to do a hands-free drop off. You can park the car and drop the keys in a box. Then you can pay online or over the phone before picking the car back up. Using your extra key, you can get your car from the lot. Your original keys are in a secure place in the car, such as the glove compartment.
If they aren’t doing this, what are they doing? Dealerships can offer sanitized clipboards or tablets. Sanitized pens can be used if you need to sign. Staff can wear gloves if they must be in contact with items that you will also touch.
If you are taking covid seriously, you are probably wearing a mask regularly. If you want to go beyond that, bring disinfectant, disposable gloves, and a plastic bag. If you don’t have gloves or wipes, you can use hand sanitizer and paper towels. You can use the bag to throw away the steering wheel cover and seat cover. You can wipe down the car and throw those wipes away. Last, you can throw the bag away before driving off.
If you aren’t driving your car much due to the quarantine, this is a great time to catch up on maintenance, purchase new tires, or get needed repairs. Just do it safely, and make sure to talk to the repair shop about what they are doing to protect you from the coronavirus.