The automatic MOT extension offered to drivers during the UK’s lockdown is coming to an end and drivers are being urged to ensure they stay within the law when the rules change.
At the height of lockdown, the Department for Transport announced an automatic six-month extension for any car, van or motorcycle with an MOT due to expire after March 30.
It was due to run until March 2021, but the DfT has decided to cut it short as millions of motorists return to the roads.
When will the MOT extension end?
From August 1, mandatory vehicle testing will be reinstated in England, Scotland and Wales as coronavirus restrictions continue to be eased.
The Government introduced the exemption in March as strict restrictions limited people’s movements to only essential travel. The legislation was initially due to remain in place for 12 months but the DfT has now said it will be removed early to reflect changes in coronavirus restrictions.
It said the move would help ensure that vehicles were in a safe condition and follows calls to end the scheme early as millions of motorists returned to the road following the easing of lockdown.
Announcing the change, Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: “As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from August 1 MOT testing will again become mandatory.
“Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.”
Do I have to get an MOT immediately?
If your car’s MOT expires on or after August 1, you need to have it tested before the expiry date.
If your car’s MOT was due to expire between March 30 and July 31, you will have been granted an automatic six-month extension. This extension will remain valid but you will need to have your car tested again before the new expiry date. You are also required to keep your car in a roadworthy condition or face a fine and possible prosecution.
If you are unsure of your car’s MOT date you can check last year’s pass certificate or follow our guide here on how to check its MOT status.
Drivers have been urged to book their test well in advance to ensure that they can secure a slot in time and the DfT has encouraged anyone with an MOT extension to consider voluntarily having their vehicle testing before the extension runs out. According to its data, 90 per cent of test centres are now open and testing capacity has reached 70 per cent.
No free pass for dangerous cars
Responding to the change in policy, RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes said it had come at the right time.
He said: “Extending MOT tests was the right short-term measure after a number of garages closed when all of us were asked to stay at home. But with many more garages now open and with the easing of movement restrictions, it makes perfect sense that cars due their MOTs are put through the test on time.
“If the extension were to continue for very much longer there is a risk of many more unroadworthy vehicles being driven, especially as traffic volumes increase – which is clearly in nobody’s interests.”
Roger Griggs, communications director for Kwik Fit, added: “We welcome the Government’s announcement that it is ending the MOT extension policy.
“Our data has shown that for every week the extension remains in place, more than 150,000 unroadworthy vehicles are being given a free pass, with around a third of those having dangerous defects. It is vital for road safety that these cars receive a physical check as soon as possible – we urge drivers not to rely on an automatic extension, especially as everyone starts to clock up more miles as the lockdown is eased.”
Andy Randall, managing director of Halfords Autocentres said: “Halfords have been engaging with the DfT over recent weeks and welcome this step by government, which is extremely positive for road safety. We firmly believe the MOT test is still the best way to ensure vehicles are safe to drive.
“Our research in recent weeks showed 45 per cent of motorists were concerned about the condition of other vehicles yet only two per cent felt there might be an issue with their own, indicating a worrying false sense of security may have been taking hold for many drivers.”