States across the country are continuing to change restrictions surrounding travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. As some states relax policies, many are heading back out to their favorite shops and venues. And after months of not being able to, car owners are now bringing their vehicles back to auto repair shops for regular care and maintenance. Of course, the auto landscape has changed a lot in the past several months, with dealerships, manufacturers, and auto repair shops alike working tirelessly to adapt. 

As you catch up on overdue maintenance, keep personal safety and the safety of others at the forefront. Here’s what to expect if you’re thinking about heading back out to your local auto repair shop.

What to expect from your auto repair shop

Earlier this year, the Dept. of Homeland Security deemed vehicle maintenance and auto repair shops to be a part of “critical infrastructure”. As such, most actually have remained open throughout the pandemic. The WHO and CDC have issued guidelines and best practices for businesses (including auto repair shops) to follow as more consumers head out. 

However, some auto shops may not be following guidelines. It’s critical to do your research to find a shop that is taking safety precautions seriously. 

AAA suggests that auto shops should ensure all repair technicians use seat and steering wheel covers, floor mats, and place something over the gear-shift as well. Additionally, repair technicians are advised to wear face masks at all times, and wash their hands every time they exit a vehicle. 

Some auto shops are also offering pick-up and drop-off services for customers. In this case, a representative from the shop will return your car to your home after service is completed. Call your local shop to see if this is something they offer. 

It’s important to note that while many shops are actively adhering to standard safety procedures, many may not be. If you arrive at an auto shop and find that they’re not taking appropriate measures, don’t feel bad about finding another shop. 

Personal safety tips

Before taking your car in for maintenance, we recommend doing your research. Give your local auto shop a call and ask them what safety measures they currently have in place. If they make you feel comfortable and answer all of your questions in detail, then that’s a good sign. 

When you arrive at your auto shop of choice, don’t forget your mask. Many shops now require customers to wear masks at all times. When dropping off and picking up your car, your own auto repair shop has its own procedures, so make sure you understand those before you arrive. If you’re interested in at-home pick-up and drop-off, ask your auto shop beforehand to see if they offer that service. Some are now offering this service at no extra charge!

Your car service technician should have wiped down and sanitized your car before dropping it back off. Still, it’s always a good idea to wipe your car down yourself as well before driving off. When disinfecting your car, don’t forget key areas like steering wheel buttons, the start button and parking brakes. Also clean the entire driver’s seat area and seat belt/seat belt buckle. 

No one knows how long the pandemic will continue to affect daily life. This is why it’s important to be cautious if you do choose to take your vehicle in for maintenance. By practicing a few simple safety guidelines, you can help ensure the safety of yourself and others.

Claire Biggerstaff
Claire Biggerstaff is a freelance writer and photographer from Charlotte, NC. Her curiosity leads her to write about a wide variety of topics. On her off days, she enjoys reading Polygon articles, and curling up to a good YouTube playlist.

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    1. The pandemic is going to reshape so many of the conventions we take for granted in so many different industries.

    2. Pretty cool how the shops are adjusting to fit the new way of things.

    3. I honestly did not even think about any of this. My car requires some much needed maintenance that I will be scheduling soon. I will now remember to sanitize afterward.

    4. If you have not replaced your cabin air filter already, then now would be the time. Replacing the cabin air filter will remove odors from your A/C and you can take the opportunity to spray lysol in your A/C intake vent. Doing both of these things along with disinfecting your car are great things to do.

    5. Nice article, our dealer offers pickup and delivery. It’s very convenient. But be sure to clean everything after you get the car back just incase.

    6. If they are offering to change your Muffler bearing or blinker fluid, run away fast!

    7. I took my truck in for service and was impressed with the effort to make the experience as COVID safe as possible. But it still felt risky.

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