The UK went into lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic back on 23rd March, and although life is now returning to some form of normality, the aftermath of lockdown has affected all corners of the automotive industry. WhoCanFixMyCar.com sheds more light.
With driving limited to essential travel for several months, issues were bound to arise in cars sitting stagnant on drives across the UK. Garages anticipated the usual repair suspects when it comes to cars parked up for long periods of time – car batteries and brakes. However, the change in driver behaviour coupled with the Government’s MOT extension scheme has had a huge impact on both the repairs completed since lockdown began and now during the recovery period.
What happened as the UK began locking down?
As expected, mid-March saw a rapid decline across all job categories as the UK began facing the realities of the pandemic. The decline, however, bottomed out quickly and remained stable for much of the lockdown period for the majority of job categories.
The repair type which recovered the quickest since March is car batteries. Given the long periods of time that cars have recently sat still, this stresses the importance of good car maintenance during periods of limited use.
A few days into lockdown, on 25th March, the government announced its MOT extension scheme, meaning that MOTs due to expire after 30th March were granted a six-month extension. This has since been capped, with those due from 1st August onwards now having their original due date. In terms of how this has affected the number of MOT jobs, WhoCanFixMyCar.com found that they rose initially in mid-March, then declined rapidly once the extension came into effect.
MOT jobs peaked only once towards the end of June, when the news that the extension would be ending 1st August was announced. Now that MOT extensions have been capped to 1st August, there has been a slow increase in job numbers, although we expect to see a surge throughout the summer.
How have things changed throughout the recovery period?
Moving out of lockdown and having passed the first peak, jobs have since recovered, being 3.3 times higher than at their lowest point (at time of writing). This indicates that drivers are now more comfortable with visiting garages and having repairs carried out than they have been in recent months. Things, therefore, appear to be on the up for those who work in automotive repairs.
There has been a substantial rise in clutch and heavier mechanical work compared to other job categories. There could be many reasons for this, with the most probable cause being that drivers are returning to work. Additionally, numbers for brake jobs have increased, most likely due to fact that they are a common fault which requires remedial attention. Mobile mechanics were hugely popular during the pandemic’s peak, yet now they are underperforming in comparison to in-house garage repairs. This diminishes the hypothesis many had that mobile would become the ‘new normal’.
Time will tell how the pandemic continues to affect the automotive world. It looks likely that job numbers will continue to rise to reach pre-Covid numbers for the time being. However, how long that trend will last remains unclear. It is clear, however, that car repairs are making a comeback.