Coronavirus (COVID-19): Answering drivers’ questions

Here we try to answer questions you may have about driving and using your car during the coronavirus outbreak. We'll keep these frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers as up to date as possible - and we've also included links to other websites for further information.

Important – the following does not constitute health advice, and official advice from the Government about travel and transport can change at any time. For the latest information and advice on the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak always check official sources including GOV.UK and NHS.UK.

Information on the RAC's response to the coronavirus, and the service we are providing, is available on this dedicated page.

Driving in the UK


If you are self-isolating, always follow the official guidance at GOV.UK.

Is the official advice on driving and using a car the same across the UK?

No. Drivers should follow the specific advice given by each government depending on whether they are in England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland.

What trips am I allowed to make by car?

Refer to the specific instructions set out according to the links above.

 

Is the experience of driving likely to be very different to normal?

Check our guide to car care if you are using your car more now than earlier in the pandemic. If you don't feel confident, you may want to familiarise yourself with driving again on quieter roads that you know well before attempting a longer trip.

Be aware of other road users as you normally would, but note that the number of people cycling and walking will have increased substantially in some areas. Some modifications to road layout can also be expected, especially in cities (for example, larger pavements to allow for social distancing and more pop-up cycle lanes).

 

Should I use a car if I'm self-isolating?

If you have any symptoms of the coronavirus, the Government says you and everyone in your household must get tested and self-isolate at home. They advise against going out even to buy food or other essentials – you should call on family and friends from other households to help, and make use of home delivery services if possible.

 

Is it safer to use my car than public transport or taxis?

If you have access to a car, you may prefer to use this at the moment.

Social distancing is fundamentally difficult in taxis, so again you should use your own car where possible. Where this isn’t possible in a taxi, you should face away from other people, have the windows open to ensure a clear flow of fresh air, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible. Be aware of the interior and exterior surfaces you and other people may touch, and wash your hands as soon as possible after the journey.

 

Should I wear a face mask or covering when I’m in a vehicle or out and about?

Face coverings (not surgical/medical face masks) are recommended in enclosed spaces, and are recommended in many other locations. GOV.UK carries a guide on how to use face coverings properly.

 

What if I’m not using my car at all at the moment?

The RAC provides advice on how to look after and maintain your vehicle through the coronavirus outbreak. 

Driving to continental Europe


Can I drive to elsewhere in Europe from the UK, and am I be covered if my car breaks down?

As entry to other countries from the UK may be restricted, we strongly advise you to read the latest government advice. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) carries the latest advice on international travel.

If you have RAC European Breakdown cover, we’ll still come to your rescue if you break down but you may experience delays if local restrictions are in place. There may also be delays in sourcing hire cars, hotel accommodation and getting your car home if it can't be fixed.

Please note that travel insurance policies generally do not cover travel undertaken to an area where the FCDO advises against all but essential travel.

How can I find out what the entry requirements are for different countries?

You must check the FCDO website before you make any plans. The RAC website also carries more generic advice on driving in different European countries.

Car care and support provided by the RAC


How to look after your car from home

Will the RAC be there for me if I need to use my car and it doesn’t start or breaks down?

The RAC is still here for customers' journeys wherever they break down - we've continued to provide a full service right through the pandemic. For the latest information on our service, read our response to COVID-19 page.

 

I’m worried my car won’t start when I need it to – what can I do?

People are rightly worried about their car batteries going flat because they aren’t driving as much as normal. But simply starting a car occasionally isn’t likely to help, in fact this may end up draining a weak battery.

If you need to use your vehicle and it doesn’t start, you can still call us for roadside assistance.

If you have more than one car it’s probably best to alternate between them so they both get used. You should also consider driving the one with the older or weaker battery more often.

If you keep your car in a garage, you may want to consider using a trickle charger which uses electricity to keep a battery charged.

50% off Breakdown Cover

You can get covered in our half price sale from just £5.75 a month.* Plus, get roadside and home rescue as standard, only with the RAC.^

I have a flat tyre but need to use my car – what do I do?

You have a number of options. RAC Approved Garages are open, and follow the RAC's COVID-19 Code of Conduct. You could use a service like RAC Tyres which allows you to order tyres online and get them fitted at a garage, or one that will come out and fit tyres at your home.

The RAC can also help - please contact us as normal. Our response to COVID-19 page provides updates on our service at this time.

I have a cracked windscreen – what do I do?

Speak to your motor insurer first. They can tell you about your policy entitlement and any costs, and tell you how your windscreen can be fixed or replaced.

Remember, driving with a cracked windscreen can be dangerous, so you shouldn’t risk driving - if you do, you could be prosecuted. Find out more about the law and the risks of driving with a cracked windscreen.

One or more of my car’s head/tail/brake lights have failed, what do I do?

Some bulbs need to be fitted by a garage, but others can be bought and fitted by high street retailers. In some cases, you may be able to fit bulbs yourself if you are careful.

First, check your car manual to find out the exact specification of the bulb(s) you need. Then look at your options for buying and getting them fitted.

If you're buying bulbs online, make sure you use a reputable retailer and look for brand names you can trust. This helps to ensure the bulb performs properly.

Fuel


Is it safe for me to use petrol pumps / electric vehicle chargers? 

Take sensible precautions here. Always use disposable gloves provided when handling fuel pumps and consider using the ‘pay at pump’ or app payment facilities where possible to reduce your contact with other people. Wash or sanitise your hands before driving off again.

For electric vehicle drivers, consider using disposable gloves. If you don't use gloves, avoid touching your face afterwards and always wash your hands thoroughly as soon as you can.

MOT and car servicing


My car’s MOT is due but I can’t leave the house – what do I do?

Garages are remaining open and MOTs can be carried out as normal.

The RAC recommends those whose vehicles which had their MOTs extended last year to still get their cars tested as normal. Many garages offer a collect-and-return service, which means you won't need to take the car for an MOT yourself - check with you preferred garage to see if they offer this (the majority of garages that are part of the RAC Approved Garages scheme do).

Tax


I need to tax my car but can’t as the MOT expired while I’ve been self-isolating – what do I do?

Your car will still need to be taxed as normal. For more details, visit the DVLA section of GOV.UK.

Motor insurance


If I’m not using my car, do I still need to insure it?

Yes. Cars need to be insured even if they are not being driven right now. However, if you have no plans to use your car for the forseeable future you can choose to declare it off the road by making it 'SORN'.

Car Insurance cover for less than £151

Get Car Insurance cover for less than £151 (that’s what 10% of our customers paid).^

Driving tests and lessons


Are driving tests going ahead?

Information is available on GOV.UK.

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*For new, single personal based cover on a fixed 18 month plan. Standard cover from £5.75 a month. Ends 27/09/21, 7am. ^Vs AA and Green Flag.

^10% of all customers buying Car Insurance Plus with us from 1st January 2021 to 30th June 2021 paid less than £151. Based on comprehensive Car Insurance Plus, purchased direct, excluding any additional products and upgrades, with payment on an annual basis. Your premium will depend on your circumstances and the level of cover you choose.