MOT expiry date extensions: Ensuring your vehicle is safe to drive

Due to the latest rules around social distancing, the government has taken steps to protect both drivers and motor traders by extending all MOTs due from March 30 by six months. During this period, you will still be able to legally drive your vehicle if reasonable measures are taken to keep it in a roadworthy condition.

A spokesperson for the RAC welcomed the move but warned that: “it’s vital every driver remembers the roadworthiness of their car is their responsibility. If they know it has got problems or was likely to fail its MOT they should not be driving it.”

What if my MOT test was due before March 30?
If your test was due on or before March 29, you will still need to undergo your MOT test within a realistic timescale if you need to use it for basic necessities, medical care or travel for work. In these circumstances, if you’re self-isolating, you should not drive your vehicle until you’re out of self-isolation and can take the vehicle to its MOT. For those who are vulnerable, you will not need to undergo your MOT until it is safe for you to do so.

If you do not need to use your vehicle over this timeframe, you will not be penalised for an expired MOT. However, if you do drive the vehicle on the road for anything but a pre-arranged MOT or vehicle repair, you may be prosecuted. If you cannot get an MOT extension and don’t intend to use your vehicle for the foreseeable future, it’s likely you will need to make a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) and take your vehicle off the road.

You can check when your MOT is due here.

Maintaining a roadworthy vehicle 
It is essential that you take the necessary precautions to ensure your vehicle is safe to drive throughout this six-month extension. If you are caught driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, you could be subject to three penalty points, up to £2,500 fine and a driving ban. More importantly, you could be putting the wellbeing of others at risk. Here’s what you should do before starting your engine according to GOV.UK:

Essential checks
Every time you use your car, you should first ensure that the lights and breaks work and that your windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean and allow full visibility. Other checks such as engine oil/water levels, tyre pressure and windscreen washer fluid should be conducted as regularly as stipulated in your vehicle handbook. For all cars, light vans and light trailers, your tyre tread should be at a minimum of 1.6mm. If you’re unsure about how to check any of these, there’s plenty of help available online or alternatively, you can consult the advice of a friend or family member.

As well as your windows and mirrors, you must ensure to keep your lights, indicators, reflectors and number plate clean and visible. If any warning lights come on in your car, it is important to get these resolved as quickly as possible with the exception of the handbrake warning light.

Red flags 
While some car problems tend to fall by the wayside, there are certain issues that need to be addressed with urgency. For example, if your car is pulling to one side when braking or if you notice any unusual smells such as burning, you should consult your mechanic immediately.

Useful links

Will the MOT extension affect my car insurance?
The Department for Transport reassured drivers that this move would not affect any insurance claims over the extension period. A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers (ABI) said: “In this unprecedented situation, insurers will not penalise you if you can’t get an MOT. Safety is paramount, so check your brakes, tyres, and lights before driving.” The ABI confirmed that drivers would not be penalised for things beyond their control as long as drivers do not ignore obvious safety issues and remain roadworthy. In short, the absence of an MOT will not in itself invalidate your cover over this period.

If you need to declare your car as temporarily off-road, want to know how the MOT extension affects your motor insurance or have any other queries, get in touch with Prospero on 0800 689 1370. We’ll talk you through what you need to know.