The Coronavirus has shut down many businesses in Pennsylvania and it is not easy to determine what is open and when you are permitted to leave the house if a business is open. Governor Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to close their physical locations on March 19, 2020. For many people, a car is life-sustaining because it is the only way to get to medical care, obtain medical supplies and prescriptions and to get to grocery stores for food. Some media reports claim that car dealerships have to close under the order, but that is not completely accurate.
One type of business activity that is permitted under the shutdown order is Support Activities for Road Transportation. Support Activities for Road Transportation is not a phrase used in normal conversation and means activities that will keep cars on the road, like car repair and service or gas stations. Car repair and service facilities are permitted to operate even under the shutdown order. Your dealership’s service garage can remain open and you can possibly get maintenance or repairs done to your car even during the business shutdown.
Before driving over to your dealership to get your car fixed, keep in mind that while the service facilities are permitted to remain open, there is nothing compelling them to stay open. If a dealership has too many mechanics out sick due to the virus or because they are at home watching the kids out of school, a dealership may limit hours or close its service facility entirely. Even in normal times, which these certainly are not, most dealership service facilities are not able to repair cars immediately for walk-ins. You should call first instead of taking your car to the dealership for service to make sure that it is open and to find out when you can bring the car in for repair. If the repair to your car is something that you can do yourself, auto parts stores are still open during the business shutdown.
Even though your car dealership is permitted to stay open for repairs, it is not open for sales. So you will not be able to go to the dealership to buy a new car until after the shutdown order in Pennsylvania has ended, which will not be until at least April 6, 2020.
You still may not be permitted to go to the dealership for repairs, depending on where you are located and what the repairs are for. Pennsylvanians in Allegheny, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Erie, Lehigh, Monroe, Montgomery, Northampton and Philadelphia Counties are under a stay-at-home order until April 6, 2020. Under the stay-at-home order, residents are restricted from nonessential travel. If you live in one of these counties and need repairs for your vehicle for activities such as obtaining supplies essential for the health and safety of yourself or household members (including pets), supplies needed to work at home, obtaining necessary food or household products or travel for life-sustaining businesses, then you would be permitted to drive to your dealership to obtain repairs even with the stay-at-home order. If, however, you live in one of these counties and the repairs are not related to allowable essential travel, then you cannot go to your dealership to obtain repairs, even if your dealership service facility is open. Some examples of nonessential repairs or service would be installation of an upgraded sound system, accessory lighting or new paint unrelated to repairs following an accident.
Reading both the business closure and the stay-at-home orders together, car dealerships in Pennsylvania are currently allowed to repair but not sell cars and if you are in a county covered by the stay-at-home order, you can only leave the house for repairs if related to an essential activity. With many people off work during this crisis, there are far fewer cars on the road which should mean that cars will need fewer repairs. If you have a vehicle that has been in multiple times for repairs under warranty but is still not fixed, please consider contacting an experience lemon law attorney. Stay safe.