How to Handle Car and Home Repairs During the COVID-19 Pandemic

May 8, 2020

With so many of us staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic, your car probably isn’t getting much use these days. It’s still important to maintain it in good working condition so you can drive it when you need to, and to address any needed repairs. Likewise, leaky faucets, clogged drains, and other homeowner woes don’t take a break for COVID-19 — and with your family home more than usual, may even happen more frequently — requiring the expertise of a professional to come into your home.

As we practice social distancing, however, you may be concerned about letting someone else into your car or home to take care of needed repairs. With proper planning, shopping, and protection, it is possible to handle these problems without increasing your risk of contracting the infection. Here are some questions you can ask your car dealer or mechanic in advance and any contractors who will need to come inside your house for repairs.

Questions for Your Car Dealer or Mechanic

Periodic oil changes are one of the best ways to keep your car running well. If you need to take it to a professional, consider finding a place that does drive-through oil changes, where the mechanics change your oil while you stay in your car. Many of these facilities take care of other routine automotive needs, too, such as changing headlights, brake lights and the car battery.

If your car requires more intensive servicing, repair, management of a recall, or attention to a “check engine” light, call your mechanic or dealer to see what efforts they are taking to reduce the risk of virus transmission while they fix your car. Here are some questions to ask:

  1. What services are you providing during the pandemic?
  2. Are you screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms and restricting them from work if they are suspected or diagnosed as being infected?
  3. Is it possible to drop off my car and keys without having to interact directly with you?
  4. Can I give you my credit card on the phone or pay online for service?
  5. What measures are your employees taking to prevent the spread of the virus, especially while in my car?
  6. Do you place plastic or other protective coverings on surfaces inside my car that your employees touch, such as the steering wheel, driver’s seat or gear shift?

Once you’ve found a car repair facility you are satisfied with, make sure you are clear with them about what services you need in advance. If you have to leave your car and return later to pick it up, be sure to arrange for a ride home. Most garages and dealers are not allowing people to stay and wait for the car in their waiting areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

When you retrieve the car:

  • Be sure you are wearing a mask yourself.
  • Bring a plastic bag with you. Remove any coverings they left in your car and discard them at the dealer or place them in the bag to be discarded at home.
  • Bring disinfectant wipes to wipe down all surfaces inside the car, with special attention to anything your hands touch on a regular basis: outside and inside car door handles, door locks, steering wheel, gear shift, key/starter, windshield wiper and signaling controls, driver’s seat and headrest, rearview mirror and side mirror controls, radio/entertainment system knobs and surfaces, air vents and the dashboard.
  • Discard the wipes in the plastic bag with the seat coverings.
  • If you wore rubber gloves to disinfect the car, remove them and place them in the plastic bag, too. If you did not use gloves, apply sanitizer to your hands after wiping down the surfaces.
  • When you get home, follow the usual precautions for removing and cleaning your mask and wash your hands thoroughly.

Questions for Home Repair Professionals

When you call your plumber, electrician, or other home repair provider, ask how they will conduct themselves in your home during the pandemic.

  1. What services are you providing during the pandemic?
  2. Are you screening employees for COVID-19 symptoms and restricting them from work if they are suspected or diagnosed as being infected?
  3. What measures are your employees taking to prevent the spread of the virus when they are in my home?
  4. Is there a way I can pay for the service without having direct contact with the repair person?
  5. How long do you anticipate the contractor will be in my home?
  6. Do you have any questions I can answer now, on the phone?
  7. Is there anything I can do beforehand to prepare my home for the contractor?

Do what you can ahead of time to minimize the amount of work the contractor has to do, surfaces touched, and time in your home by:

  • Clearing all products from under the sink if a plumber needs to access that area.
  • Pull furniture or other items away from a wall to provide access for an electrician or exterminator.
  • Make sure the path from the exterior door of your home to the area being worked on is free of obstacles.
  • Keep children, pets, and other family members away from the area where the contractor will be working, and maintain at least 6 feet of social distance from the contractor yourself.
  • Have your own pen ready in case you need to sign any paperwork, rather than using the contractor’s pen.

Be sure you have a mask to wear during the entire encounter. Have soap and water, disinfectant wipes and/or sprays ready and after the contractor leaves, wipe down all surfaces he or she may have had contact with, such as faucet handles, light switches and doorknobs. Then wash your own hands thoroughly as well.

Next Steps & Resources

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.