PLEASE NOTE: This is no longer the latest advice on car servicing in Victoria. Head here for the updated restrictions.
Victorians hoping to get their car serviced or repaired in lockdown will first have to ask themselves one question amid stage-four restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne: "Is it necessary or essential?"
According to the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS): "You may still be able to get your vehicle serviced under stage four restrictions if necessary or if taken in for essential repairs."
As such, car dealerships, service centres and mechanics have been permitted to stay open for on-site work, but only if this work is to provide emergency repairs or essential servicing.
These workplaces are still subject to restrictions including social distancing, requiring a work permit, having a COVID-safe plan in place and obeying the curfew hours of 8pm to 5am.
What constitutes necessary, emergency, critical or essential?
Obviously, repairs or services that are required to ensure a vehicle is roadworthy are permitted, as is roadside emergency assistance or emergency repairs.
According to the Victorian Automobile Chamber of Commerce (VACC), however, "this does not include routine servicing... but would include urgent recalls".
"Your 20,000km service can't go ahead, but something like a Takata airbag recall replacement can," Motor Trades Association of Australia (MTAA) CEO Richard Dudley explained.
"Additionally, if you get a warning light on your dashboard that needs urgent attention, that is a safety issue and thus an essential service [and you can have it fixed]."
Recent data from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) shows Victoria still has over 351 of critical 'alpha' airbags, 1740 critical non-alpha airbags and another 50,000 non-critical airbags to be replaced.
If you're not sure whether your car is included in the recall, you can check here.
What if I booked in my service before the lockdown?
If you pre-booked your scheduled service, it's likely the dealership will contact you to reschedule it until after the six-week lockdown ends.
Toyota, for example, said in a statement: "Our dealership closures mean that test-drives, scheduled handovers of new or pre-owned vehicles and non-essential service appointments will be suspended.
"Emergency vehicle repairs and critical maintenance are the exception and some of our Metropolitan Melbourne Dealers will continue to support with this essential service."
What if my mechanic or service centre is outside my 5km radius?
Where possible, when seeking emergency or critical repairs, choose the mechanic or service centre closest to you, even if it's not your regular location.
"If there isn't a service centre within the 5km radius then go to the one closest to you," Motor Trades Association of Australia CEO Richard Dudley says.
Importantly, the VACC says people who own a specialist vehicle which doesn't have a service centre within the 5km radius will be permitted to travel outside this area to have it repaired, if the repairs are critical and essential.
"If a vehicle requires a specialist and/or brand-specific workplace in order to complete repairs, then they can travel outside the five kilometre zone to access these services," the VACC says.
Can I book a mobile mechanic?
Mobile mechanics are still allowed to operate if they are conducting critical or essential repairs and have a work permit allowing them to travel.
"VACC’s interpretation of the rules would suggest mobile mechanics can operate if they are carrying out repairs to vehicles where those repairs maintain the health and safety of Victorians at home or work," the VACC said.
What about servicing and repairs if I live in regional Victoria?
Service centres, dealerships and mechanics remain open in regional Victoria under stage three restrictions.
However, in getting your car serviced or repaired, Victorians should not travel further than they need to.
"Victorians must use common sense when it comes to their activities and stay as close to home as possible," the DHHS said.
Will my warranty be voided if I skip a scheduled service?
“Warranty policy is determined solely by manufacturers, but I would very much doubt that any manufacturer in this environment would void a warranty due a customer missing a scheduled service," James Voortman, CEO of the Australian Automotive Dealers Association, said.
“Customers are being told by the state government that in order to assist in fighting this pandemic they are not to service their cars. Clearly there should be no effect on their car’s warranty.
“Common-sense dictates that an exemption should be made for any customers which happens to have a scheduled service that falls within this lockdown period.”