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30 Jun 2020

Government cuts short MOT exemption: is your car's MOT due?

MOT tests will become mandatory again from 1 August
MOT symbol

After granting drivers a six-month extension to their MOT certificates in March, during the coronavirus lockdown, the UK government has announced that mandatory MOT testing will be reintroduced from 1 August 2020.

As lockdown measures continue to be relaxed, an increasing number of drivers are returning to the roads, prompting roads minister Baroness Vere of Norbiton to bring the cut-off date for mandatory tests forward from 30 September.

Read on to find out if you'll be affected by this announcement and what you should do.

Nearly half of all faults discovered during MOT checks could be avoided by carrying out simple maintenance checks, according to Halfords. Find out how to maintain your car during lockdown. And check out our guide on how to pass an MOT check to make sure you're prepared ahead of your test.

Who will be affected by the change to the MOT exemption?

Mechanic inspecting a car
If you're a vehicle owner in England, Scotland or Wales, and the MOT for your car, motorcycle or van expires on or after 1 August 2020, you will be affected. Your certificate will not be extended and you'll need to book an MOT test as you would have done before lockdown.

If your MOT was or is due between 30 March and 31 July 2020, you will still be granted the full six-month extension. So if, for example, your MOT is due on 30 July 2020, you won't need an MOT check until 30 January 2021. This applies to both MOT renewals and vehicles due their first MOT test in this period.

If your MOT expiry date was on or before 29 March 2020, you're expected to book an MOT as usual.

If you're eligible for the extension, you can still book an MOT check sooner if you wish. The government says that now more than 90% of garages are open across the country, but there is likely to be a surge in test bookings and you may face delays. So the government is encouraging drivers to book a test in advance.

Halfords, one of the largest national providers of MOT testing, told us: 'Customers should be aware that there may be a significant backlog for MOTs during 2021. Although, we are hopeful that the steps we're taking now will go some way to evening out demand.'

You can get an MOT a month minus a day before it runs out and keep the same renewal date. So if your MOT were to run out on 2 August 2020, you can get an MOT on or after 3 July 2020 and keep the same renewal date for 2021.

Our guide on finding a good garage explains how to make sure you get a trustworthy check from a garage that won't overcharge you.

Whether or not your MOT is due, and whether or not you're eligible for an extension, your car still needs to be roadworthy. If it's unsafe to drive, you must take it to the nearest open garage to get it checked out or you could face prosecution.

Discover the most and least reliable car brands.

Why do I need an MOT check?

MOT certificates help to ensure that all the vehicles on the road are safe to drive.

Among other problems, an MOT test will check for any wear and tear to your vehicle's engine, exhaust system and key areas of its body.

You could be fined up to £1,000 for driving a car without a valid MOT. You could be fined up to £2,500, receive three points on your licence and be banned from driving if you drive a cardeemed 'dangerous' by an MOT test.

When buying a used car, it's important to check its MOT status and history, and book a fresh MOT check as soon as you can.

New cars don't need an MOT certificate until three years have passed from the date of their first registration.

The Department for Transport runs an MOT reminder service, which will send you free text messages or emails a month before your next MOT is due, as helpful reminder.

Do I need to take my car for its MOT if I'm shielding or I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you're being advised to shield (England, Scotland and Wales have different guidance on who needs to shield), you might understandably be worried about needing to go out for an MOT.

The UK government says that you should not take your vehicle for its MOT if you're shielding.

The same applies if you're self-isolating because you or someone in your household has coronavirus symptoms.

In both instances, contact your local garage to see if they offer a pick-up and drop-off service. Which? Trusted Traders can help you find a reputable garage near your postcode.

When you stop self-isolating, you shouldn't drive your vehicle if its MOT isn't valid (unless you're driving to a prearranged test, or you're driving it to or from a garage for repairs).

You can also register your vehicle as off the road (SORN) if you can't take it for its MOT and its tax is due to run out.

Find out what the MOT extension means for car tax, and read the latest coronavirus news and advice from Which?