Normally, we here at PassMeFast would be among the first to stress the importance of the MOT test. However, these unprecedented times have forced all of us to reevaluate our priorities. This will leave many drivers with a dilemma. Should you take your car for its MOT to make sure you can still drive it legally? Or should you stick to social distancing rules and stay at home?
Fortunately, the DVSA has made the decision easier for UK drivers by extending MOT expiry dates. This means that most people won’t need to head to an MOT testing centre for a few extra months. Read on for the full details.
MOT expiry dates extended: the details
Under normal circumstances, drivers must take their car for its first MOT 3 years after registering it, then every year thereafter. Coronavirus, however, has prompted a change in approach. To encourage drivers to stay at home, the DVSA have extended the expiry dates of most MOTs by six months.
If your MOT was due to expire on or after 30th March 2020, the DVSA will add on an additional six months’ validity. So, if your original expiry date was May 1st, your new expiry date would be November 1st. You won’t need to do anything to qualify for the extension; instead, you’ll receive it automatically. The DVSA will inform you of your extension a few days before your original expiry date.
If your MOT was due on or before 29th March 2020, however, then you still need to book an MOT as usual. MOT testing centres are exempt from the lockdown, and you will be able to take your car in for a test. Indeed, if your MOT has now expired, you should only be driving to a pre-booked MOT test. However, if you are in a high-risk group, or if you or anyone you live with is showing symptoms of COVID-19, you should not come to a test centre and should instead self-isolate.
What steps do I need to take?
Though motorists can safely postpone any trips to the testing centre, this doesn’t mean your to-do list is clear. It remains your responsibility to ensure that your car is safe to drive—and an MOT alone is not proof of this.
In many instances, you’ll be able to perform useful steps to take care of your car at home. We’ve even created a handy guide to car maintenance during the coronavirus pandemic, complete with top tips and preventative actions to take.
If you come across a more serious issue with your vehicle, however, you may need to take it into a garage. Garages are one of the few essential services allowed to stay open during the lockdown, so don’t put off any urgent repairs.
How will this affect my vehicle tax?
While MOT tests require someone to physically look at your car, vehicle tax does not. As such, your vehicle tax will be due at the normal time. Nonetheless, the MOT extensions have had a knock-on impact on tax.
Normally, your car will need a valid MOT before you’re able to tax it. However, as noted, the DVSA are extending MOT expiry dates on a rolling basis. You’ll only find out your new expiry date a few days before your original date.
Drivers cannot tax their vehicle until after they’ve officially received an extension. So, if your MOT and car tax are due in the same month, you may need to pay your tax later on in the month.
If my MOT gets extended, will my insurance still be valid?
Yes. Your insurer should automatically accept your new extended expiry date.
My MOT is due later in the year. Will I still get an extension?
The legislation authorising a six-month MOT extension will be in place for 12 months. As such, drivers whose MOT is due later in the year should receive an extension, too. This should help to keep things simple for motorists, and avoid a post-lockdown rush on testing centres.
My MOT expiry date was meant to have been extended, but this hasn’t happened. What should I do?
You should receive an extension at least three days before your original expiry date. If this hasn’t happened, contact the DVSA using the following email:
Which vehicles does the extension apply to?
The extension applies to cars, motorcycles, light vans and other light vehicles. It does not apply to larger vehicles, such as buses or lorries. Additionally, it only applies to vehicles whose MOT was due to expire on or after 30th March.
What should I do if my MOT has already expired?
If your MOT has expired, and you are not eligible for an extension (e.g., if your expiry date was on or before 29th March), then you can only drive to a pre-booked MOT test, or for urgent repairs.
If your MOT has expired, but you’re not planning to drive during lockdown, then you have the option to apply for a SORN. This means that you won’t be able to take your car on public roads, but that you won’t have to pay vehicle tax. If you’re interested, read our guide to cancelling your vehicle tax during the coronavirus pandemic.
I need to take my car for an MOT, but I’m experiencing symptoms associated with coronavirus. What should I do?
Do not attend an MOT testing centre. You should stay at home and self-isolate if you, or any members of your household, experience symptoms. The DfT has pledged to work with insurance firms and the police to ensure that motorists will not be unfairly penalised for this.
Once you no longer need to self-isolate, you should book an MOT test and tax your vehicle. Alternatively, if you are going to be off the road for some time, consider applying for a SORN.
Should I take my car for an MOT if I am shielding?
No. If you are in a high-risk group and are being shielded, do not attend a testing centre. As with those who are self-isolating, you should not be penalised for failing to obtain an MOT because you are shielding.
You may wish to apply for a SORN if you won’t be driving for a while as a result of shielding. Once this period ends, you can then book an MOT test and re-tax your car as normal.
What steps are MOT testing centres taking to stop the spread of coronavirus?
As MOT test centres are staying open during the pandemic, many are taking precautions to contain the spread of coronavirus. These include special measures to clean and disinfect both the centre and the car itself, as well as the option to hand over the vehicle with no contact with staff.