AutoMatters & More: Taking your car in for service during the coronavirus pandemic

Much about our daily lives as we once lived them has changed during the coronavirus pandemic. Before, most of us accepted the risk of getting sick with common colds, and then enduring what were typically mild consequences. Now, with millions of people around the world getting sick, and hundreds of thousands dying from COVID-19 after catching this particularly nasty and contagious virus, exercising additional precautions has become a worldwide priority. The need for extraordinary precautions is exacerbated by the fact that there are many fully asymptomatic infected people who can be contagious for up to two weeks before they show any symptoms. Until vaccines, or at least effective treatments or cures, become available, our lives cannot return to our previous normal.

Jan Wagner wearing a protective face shield and mask
Jan Wagner wearing a protective face shield and mask
(Jan Wagner)

When I go grocery shopping I wear a face mask, face shield and gloves. Then, when I return home, I set aside everything that I’ve bought until any respiratory coronavirus droplets that might have settled on my purchases are hopefully no longer alive. Furthermore, I wipe down everything that is packaged with sanitizing wipes, and even repackage some things in plastic bags.

Governments have asked, or in some instances required, people who could stay home to do so –especially those in high risk groups for potentially getting severely ill or worse from COVID-19 (including people with underlying medical conditions and senior citizens – a group that includes me). However, many people continue to work in services that are deemed necessary – that we depend upon – including those who work in medical fields, grocery stores, public utilities, law enforcement and more, including the automobile service industry.

Taking my car in for service
Taking my car in for service
(Jan Wagner)

Even though most of us are not driving as much as we did before, our cars still require regular service. Vehicle service intervals may be determined by several factors: typically mileage since their last service or the amount of time that has passed since the car was last serviced.

For example, my 2019 Mazda MX-5 Miata has only been driven a little over 4,000 miles since new. According to that mileage alone, it was still not due for its first service, but I took delivery of this car on July 5, 2019. Mazda’s warranty specifies that even if it has been driven less than a certain number of miles before requiring that it be serviced, it must nevertheless be serviced within one year of its previous service or its delivery date. That meant that I needed to get it serviced before its one-year anniversary.

Precautions on the service drive
Precautions on the service drive
(Jan Wagner)

Driving any car regularly is very important, especially for lubrication, avoiding corrosion, and maintaining the electrical system, the gas in the tank and the rubber parts (including the belts and tires). With that in mind, even though I have hardly left my house in three months, I have driven my Miata at least once every two weeks.

When you take your car in for service, it is potentially exposed to having coronavirus respiratory droplets either settle upon it, or through touch. Therefore, in the interests of safety, it is important that the car either be shielded from such contamination, sanitized, or both.

Wrapping the steering wheel, gearshift knob and seat
Wrapping the steering wheel, gearshift knob and seat
(Jan Wagner)

When I phoned to make the appointment to bring in my car to Mazda of Escondido, one of the things that we discussed was the measures they are taking during the coronavirus pandemic to help keep their customers – and their employees – safe.

At this dealership, all employees who are potentially going to be in contact with customers and their cars wear a face mask and gloves. They also practice social distancing, ensuring that customers and employees remain apart throughout the interaction processes – from check-in at the dealership, to consulting with a service advisor at their work station.

Part of the dealership’s preparation of my car for service included installing disposable plastic covers on the driver’s seat, steering wheel and gearshift knob (although curiously not on the handbrake lever). Furthermore, I observed an employee wiping down surfaces with disinfecting wipes.

Service technician wearing gloves and face mask about to drive my car
Service technician wearing gloves and face mask about to drive my car
(Jan Wagner)

The process was stress-free. Upon check-out, signing for my payment by credit card was optional. They even washed the exterior of my car.

Before I left the dealership, out of an abundance of caution, I wiped off switches and other control surfaces, the door handles and that aforementioned handbrake lever with a disinfectant wipe.

Be safe. We can get through this.

To see additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #647” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2020 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #647


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