MOT extension axed: Car owners with an MOT due date from 1 August will need to have their them tested now that the temporary six-month coronavirus exemption has been lifted
Mandatory MOTs are to be reintroduced from 1 August, cutting short the six-month test exemption introduced on 30 March in response to the coronavirus lockdown, it has been confirmed today.
The Government had put in place an extension to tests for half a year, though warned motorists that they would be responsible for ensuring their cars were roadworthy – else face a fine of up to £1,500.
Confirming the news on Monday, Roads Minister Baroness Vere said: ‘Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.’
Drivers had been granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing to help slow the spread of the virus at the beginning of the pandemic.
However, since lockdown has been eased in England, motor industry bodies have called for the MOT extension to be axed to ensure the safety of drivers and to help garages recover from a significant drop in business.
At the beginning of May, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, Independent Garage Association and Institute of the Motor Industry clubbed together to mount pressure on the government to cull the MOT temporary MOT rules.
With the test exemption in place, MOT volumes fell from 7.2 million in April and May a year ago to just 2.2 million in the same months of 2020 – a decline of 70 per cent.
And with one in three cars failing their MOT on average, it means there could be 1.6 million cars being driven that would have been deemed unroadworthy if tested over the previous two months, This is Money exclusively revealed earlier this month.
With many drivers also likely taking advantage of the extension in June, garages have been given the green light to clear some of the logjam of tests the exemption is likely to cause from September.
MOT volumes fell from 7.2 million in April and May a year ago to just 2.2 million in the same months of 2020 – a decline of 70%
Checks to ensure cars are roadworthy during MOT exemption (DfT)
Every time you drive you should check:
– the windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean
– all lights work
– the brakes work
Your vehicle’s handbook will tell you how often to check the:
– engine oil
– water level in the radiator or expansion tank
– brake fluid level
– windscreen and rear window washer bottles – top up with windscreen washer fluid if necessary
– tyres: they must have the correct tread depth and be free of cuts and defects
The handbook will also tell you when your vehicle needs to be serviced.
Tread must be a certain depth depending on the type of vehicle:
cars, light vans and light trailers – 1.6 millimetres (mm)
motorcycles, large vehicles and passenger-carrying vehicles – 1mm
Mopeds only need to have visible tread.
There must be tread across the middle three-quarters and around the entire tyre.
Now that restrictions have eased, all drivers whose car, motorcycle or van is due for an MOT test from 1 August will be required to get a test certificate to continue driving their vehicle.
Drivers with an MOT due date before 1 August will still receive a six-month exemption from testing – but can get them tested sooner if they wish.
If they decide to take advantage of the extension, the government reiterated that all vehicles must continue to be properly maintained and kept in a roadworthy condition.
If not, motorists caught by police at the wheel of an unsafe vehicle will be fined.
Vehicle owners who are eligible for the extension can voluntarily get their MOT sooner should they wish, even if they are exempt from the legal requirement.
In a statement released today, Baroness Vere said: ‘As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from 1 August MOT testing will again become mandatory.’
Responding to the announcement, Edmund King, AA president, said: ‘It makes sense to reintroduce MOT testing from 1 August 2020 now that Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted and all garages and dealerships are open.
‘Car traffic is on the increase already and will grow as more drivers return to the road with the re-opening of hospitality and travel with their families for ‘staycation’ holidays.
‘The extension was a pragmatic move to help drivers in self isolation but as services resume we agree that reintroducing the MOT with good advance notice will help drivers and make our roads safer.’
Around 9 in 10 car garages are now open again for business. Drivers of vehicles that are eligible to not be tested for 6 months are being told to book their car in sooner if possible
Over 90 per cent of garages are open across the country, with testing capacity already at 70 per cent of normal levels and is steadily increasing, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency confirmed.
While exemptions are still available for vehicle owners with an MOT due date before 1 August, it is vital that drivers still take their vehicle to be checked if they notice something is wrong in the same way that they usually would.
If drivers are vulnerable or self-isolating they should contact their local garage as many are offering pick-up and drop-off services, so drivers can get their car checked without having to visit a garage.
The DVSA has also issued guidance to all MOT testers about safely conducting tests in line with the latest Government advice.
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: ‘The MOT process is about ensuring our vehicles are safe to drive, so although we backed the extension period during lockdown it was on the basis that drivers should still be checking their cars and that the scheme should be brought back as soon as it was safe to do so.
‘With lockdown restrictions ending, and more of us looking to make longer trips, it is right that the normal regime should restart.
‘The key thing about the return to the normal testing cycle is for it to be clearly communicated to vehicle owners – we welcome the five week notice period which should give drivers plenty of time to book an appointment and get back into the annual testing regime.’
The announcement was also welcomed by NFDA. Director, Sue Robinson, said: ‘Following the lockdown and the long period when vehicles remained unused and often unserviced, there may now be a lot of potentially unroadworthy and dangerous cars on the road.
‘Ending the MOT extension is a step in the right direction to ensure safety as more people return to work and roads get busier.’
The end of the six-month extension is the latest ruling as part of the eased lockdown, following last week’s news that driving lessons and tests can restart from July 4.