How to check your car is roadworthy

Is your MOT due?

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A six-month exemption for some MOTs is available from the government, but motorists still need to ensure their vehicle is roadworthy. Here’s how…

Mechanics working on a car in a garage

If your MOT is due between 30 March and 31 July 2020, you will be able to extend it for six months, according to the latest government announcement.

The deferment applies to cars, motorcycles and light vans.

The six-month extension originally applied to all MOTs due to expire on or after 30 March. However, as coronavirus lockdown eases, new rules introduced on 29 June have placed a restriction to the extension.

Now, if your MOT is due on or after 1 August, you must book it in and get it done as normal.

You will still qualify for the six-month extension if your MOT is due any time before this date. For example, if it is due on 28 July, you will have until the 28 January 2021 to get it done.

How will the MOT extension work?

If your vehicle is eligible for the MOT extension, you do not need to do anything to get the process started. Your vehicle’s MOT expiry date will automatically be extended by six months if it was due on or after 30 March and before 1 August and you will still have a valid MOT certificate for this additional period. Note that you won’t be sent a new paper certificate with the extended date, however.

Your vehicle’s record will also be updated so the police will be aware you have a valid MOT, your insurance will not be jeopardised, and you can still tax your vehicle. That said, if your tax is due in the same month as your MOT, you won’t be able tax your vehicle until the MOT expiry date has been extended.

Your vehicle’s MOT expiry date should be automatically updated about seven days before it was due to expire. But it is worth checking whether this has happened three days before the original expiry date – you can do this via the gov.uk website or sign up to our Car Monitor that reminds you when your MOT is due.

If you discover the MOT date has not been extended, don’t worry – all you need to do is email covid19mot@dvsa.gov.uk to let the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) know. Include the date your MOT expired as well as your vehicle registration number. The DVSA should then update your vehicle’s record and you’ll be sent an email to let you know when this has been completed.

However, bear in mind that if you take your vehicle for an MOT and it fails, your granted extension will no longer apply. For example, your MOT was due to expire on 3 May but has been extended to 3 November. You take it in August regardless and it fails. In this case, you will need to make fixes required for it to pass its MOT before you can start driving it again.

You can find more information on the gov.uk website.

Make sure your vehicle is safe to drive

Although the MOT extension is good news for motorists, if you still need to use your vehicle, you must make sure it is in a roadworthy condition. Anyone caught driving a vehicle that is not safe could be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points on their licence.

Keep in mind too that while Britain remains in lockdown, you must only use your vehicle for essential travel. You should only leave home to buy food, pick up medical supplies, care for a vulnerable person or travel to and from work (if you cannot work from home).

If you need to use your vehicle for any of these reasons, below are some of the ways you can make sure your car is still safe on the road if your MOT was due imminently.

What checks should you carry out?

Additionally, your vehicle’s handbook should tell you how often to carry out checks for the:

  • Engine oil
  • Water level in the radiator or expansion tank
  • Brake fluid level
  • Battery – make sure it is secure and not leaking
  • Windscreen and rear window washer bottles – you may need to top up with windscreen washer fluid

It is also a good idea to check your vehicle’s registration plate is clean enough to read and that it’s attached securely, as well as ensure the warning lights on the dashboard work correctly.

The handbook will also tell you when the vehicle needs to be serviced.

Check your tyres

Checking your tyres regularly is another important precaution to take. Make sure they are the correct tread depth – this will vary depending on the vehicle – and that they do not have any cuts or defects.

Tyres on cars, light vans and light trailers should have a tread depth of 1.6mm, while motorcycles, large vehicles and passenger-carrying vehicles should have a tread depth of 1mm. Mopeds only need to have a visible tread. There must be tread across the middle three-quarters and around the entire tyre.

Tyres on cars, light vans and light trailers should have a tread depth of 1.6mm

Following this guidance will ensure your car is safe to drive even if it has yet to have its MOT. Should you discover an issue that means your vehicle could be dangerous to drive, it’s important to take it to get repaired at your nearest garage as soon as possible - the government has said garages can remain open during this time.

Remember – it’s important your car remains insured during this time. If you would prefer not to drive your car and don’t want to pay insurance, you’ll need to declare it off the road using a SORN. Our guide explains how.

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