The COVID-19 outbreak has disrupted aspects of normal daily life for almost everyone in the UK and across the world. From social distancing in the shops to working from home, our lives feel completely different than they did just a couple of months ago.
There are so many new rules and regulations in place, changing almost daily, that it’s hard to keep with it all. Something that has changed dramatically, but hasn’t received many newspaper inches or airtime on the news, is MOT testing.
Many people will have entered the lockdown still entirely reliant on their car and with an MOT due date looming. So, here we look into how MOT testing has changed due to COVID-19, and answer some of the big questions.
From 30 March 2020, all MOT certificates in the UK were extended for six months. This means that if your car was due its MOT after 30 March, its certificate is extended for another six months – so, you won’t have to visit your test centre until later in the year. This applies to motorcycles and light vans, too.
If your car is relatively new and was due its first MOT after 30 March 2020, it is still covered by this extension.
Police records have been automatically updated to show that your car still holds a valid MOT certificate for the duration of the extension. Furthermore, your insurance policy will still be valid, and it is possible to continue taxing your car when necessary.
Whilst the MOT extensions are being applied automatically, it is a good idea to check that yours has gone through without issue. Visit the government’s MOT history portal for full details of your car’s MOT and when it is valid until. The portal is updating information in date order, so your car’s new MOT due date will be updated about seven days before the original expiry date.
If your car’s MOT extension has not been applied three days before it is due to expire, email email@example.com with your MOT expiration date and number plate. The DVSA will then update the vehicle’s record and email you to confirm it is complete.
If your car failed its MOT before 30 March 2020, and you were waiting to take a re-test, your car is NOT covered by the extension. The government is allowing MOT test centres to remain open for people reliant on their car for the following journeys:Shop for basic essentials
If you need your car for any of the above reasons, you can still book an MOT appointment. It is worth check if your local garage is still open during the lockdown, as some are closing temporarily.
Even if your car has a valid MOT certificate, it still needs to be maintained so that it is safe to drive and roadworthy. As a vehicle owner, it is your responsibility to ensure your car remains safe to drive, and as mentioned above, an unsafe car could land you a £2,500 fine, driving ban and penalty points.
Here is a simple list of checks the government recommends you carry out before every journey to ensure your car is safe to drive:
Windows, windscreens and mirrors are clean
All lights work
The brakes work
Additionally, it is important to routinely check the following:
Water level in the radiator
Brake fluid level
Windscreen washer fluid
Tyre tread (should be at least 1.6mm)
If your road tax expires during the lockdown, you will still need to renew this (unless you register your car as off-road and never use it). However, you cannot renew your car tax until the MOT expiry date has been extended, so keep checking on the government portal for your car’s Mot extension, and tax it as soon as that is confirmed.
Car servicing is not a legal requirement, so it is not something you necessarily have to do during the lockdown or during normal times. Outside of lockdown precautions, it is a good idea to stick to an annual servicing routine as this will highlight any current or emerging issues with your car that an MOT won’t always cover, and it can help a car retain its value.
However, during the lockdown, a car owner should use their discretion when deciding whether to have a service of not. If the car does not have any worrying habits or signs, and it feels completely safe to drive – it could be worth waiting until the lockdown orders have been lifted before going for a service.