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Call to end 6-month MOT extension ‘as soon as possible’

MOT sign

The six-month MOT extension brought in to help keep key workers mobile during the coronavirus lockdown should be ended as soon as possible, says trade body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

“With government advice stating that works should avoid public transport when returning to work,” said chief executive Mike Hawes, “the use of private cars is likely to rise.

“Given many of these vehicles have been idle for weeks, a reconsideration of the six-month MOT extension neds to be made as soon as possible.”

The extension saw MOTs that expired during the lockdown automatically extended by six months.

The rule change was introduced on 30 March and is currently in force until March 2021. This means that any MOT expiring until then will be granted an automatic six-month extension.

In the interests of safety and vehicle reliability, the SMMT believes the regular annual MOT check needs to recommence quickly. This would see the current emergency legislation withdrawn again. 

Roadworthiness risks

Steve Nash, CEO of the Institute of the Motor Industry, echoed the SMMT’s call.

“Whilst the motives for the initiative were sound at that time, there are serious risks in the extension remaining in place now.

“First and foremost, if vehicles are coming back onto the roads in volume, it is vital for all road users’ safety that they are roadworthy.

“The other issue is that if all motorists wait up to 6 months from when their MOT expired to get their vehicle tested, there is going to be a big backlog of tests in the autumn and winter, which could significantly overwhelm the sector.”

Mr Hawes said the sector has now introduced coronavirus safety guidance to minimise the risk of Covid-19 transmission.

“It is timely that the aftermarket can assure customers and colleagues that it is ready to reopen safely to ensure workers’ vehicles remain roadworthy.”

The sector is ready to cope with a “significant ramp-up in demand,” he added.

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How to keep your van roadworthy during the lockdown

How to keep a van roadworthy

Van drivers are helping to keep the country running during the coronavirus crisis. Whether it’s delivering groceries to properties or transporting essential items for the NHS, van drivers provide a vital service.

Any MOTs for vans which expired on or after 30 March have been extended by six months. This means certificates are still valid, but it’s no guarantee that the van is roadworthy.

ALSO READ: 14 ways to make your car last longer

However, as the government points out, it’s the responsibility of the van owner or fleet operator to ensure the vehicle is safe to drive and roadworthy.

You could be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a van in dangerous condition.

With this in mind, Volkswagen has a list of tips for keeping your van roadworthy.

Van driver

David Hanna, head of service and parts at Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “Extending the MOT is great news for many drivers who would be unable to book in for a test but it does put the onus on owners and fleet managers to ensure the vans on the road remain roadworthy.

“We’ve compiled these top tips which can be done at home to make sure you to stay on the right side of the law during the COVID-19 crisis. And even if your van isn’t being used at the moment, when you go back to work it’s just as important to complete these checks, too.

“And if drivers identify any serious issue, we’re proud that nearly all our van centres and authorised repairers across the UK are open during the crisis for essential maintenance for key workers.”

How to keep your van roadworthy

  • Tyres. Use a 20p coin to check that the tyres have at least 1.6mm of tread depth. If not, you’ll need to change at least one of the tyres.
  • Brakes. Any judder through the steering wheel could be a sign of warped discs. Also look out for excessive travel on the brakes, as this could be a sign of a hydraulic fault. Make sure the ABS light goes off when the van is running.
  • Lights. One of the most common reasons for a vehicle failing an MOT. Check front and rear bulbs, including brake and reversing lights. Also check the lights are properly aligned.
  • Steering. Serious squeals or judders are a sign of potential failure. Make sure the van isn’t pulling to the left or right.
  • Number plates. Make sure the plates are clean and be clearly read. Don’t forget to the check the number plate light bulbs – this is an MOT checkpoint.
  • Battery. Inspect the battery for any leaking, corrosion or loose cables. Weak headlights or a struggling starter motor are signs that the battery could need replacing.
  • Windscreen. Make sure the wipers are not smearing the screen. Any stone chips should be investigated – they could be repaired without the need for a new windscreen.
  • Fluids and oils. Check the brake fluid, engine coolant, engine oil and power steering fluid. Check for any puddles under the van.
  • Screenwash. An empty bottle is an MOT fail – keep it topped up.
  • Load bay and trailer. Check the door locks are in full working order. Also inspect a trailer, tow bar and any electrical fittings.

Click here for advice on how to pass an MOT at the first attempt

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Covid-19 MOT exemption

How the 6-month coronavirus MOT extension works

MOT test centre sign

MOTs for cars, motorcycles and light vans due from Monday 30 March 2020 have been granted a temporary six-month exemption, transport secretary Grant Shapps has announced. 

This is to allow key workers to get to work and people to get essential food and medicine during the Covid-19 outbreak. 

The six-month exemptions are granted automatically: motorists do not need to do anything. 

Covid-19 MOT exemption

Current MOTs will be extended by six months from their original expiry date. So, if your MOT was due on 3 April 2020, it is automatically extended to 3 October 2020.

If your three-year-old vehicle’s first MOT is due, you will be automatically given a six-month MOT extension from the due-date. 

ALSO READ: 10 million cars fail first MOT test

This also means car insurance WILL remain valid: motorists are required to have a current MOT as part of car insurance rules (Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988). 

The new legislation applies in England, Scotland and Wales. Northern Ireland has separate arrangements. 

How does the MOT extension work?

MOT expiry dates are automatically extended by six months, stresses the government: owners don’t need to do anything. It is actioned about a week before the original date is due to expire. 

A new paper MOT certificate will NOT be issued, to save on paperwork. 

However, the online MOT record WILL show the revised date, so the police will be able to tell you have a current MOT. 

Online check MOT status tools will also use the new, extended date. 

You’ll still be able to tax your vehicle, adds the government – however, if both your MOT and tax run out in the same month, you may have to wait until later in the month before taxing it. 

What if my MOT was due on or before Sunday 29 March?

MOTs due before 30 March 2020 have not been exempted. Motorists will still need to get an MOT and can still be prosecuted for driving without one.

If a vehicle’s tax has run out, a valid MOT is required before it can be renewed.

ALSO READ: Simple and essential checks before your car’s MOT

Garages and MOT test centres remain open as they are considered an essential service to keep cars safe.

A new tool allows you to search by postcode to find open centres nearest to you.

The garage will not give you a paper copy of the MOT certificate though, to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Owners can download a copy online after the test.

If you cannot get to an MOT test station, government advice is to register your car as off the road – this is known as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification).

Reasons to register it as SORN include not being able to visit a test station because you’re self-isolating.

You must not take your vehicle for its MOT If either you or someone you live with have coronavirus symptoms.

The Department for Transport also instructs those extremely vulnerable from coronavirus to not take their car for its MOT.

DfT is working with insurers and the police to make sure you are not unfairly penalised for not being able to get an MOT while you’re being shielded.

Can I still be prosecuted for not having an MOT?

Technician carrying out a car MOT

Motorists are responsible for making sure their car is always safe to drive, or ‘roadworthy’.

Even cars with an MOT can be unsafe and classed as unroadworthy.

Motorists are told they ‘must still keep your car in a roadworthy condition and garages will remain open for repairs’. 

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

How long will the new legislation last?

The legislation granting a six-month MOT exemption came into immediate effect on 30 March 2020 for 12 months.

This means that even if your MOT is not due for another six months, on 30 September 2020, it will still be extended by six months to 30 March 2021.

The transport secretary is expected to give further guidance about how the new legislation will gradually evolve.  

What about MOTs for lorries, buses and coaches?

MOTs for lorries, buses and coaches were earlier suspended for up to three months from 21 March 2020.

Heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) and public service vehicles (PSVs) will be issued with a three-month certificate of temporary exemption (CTE) until further notice.

New advice has now been published on what operators need to do to exempt their vehicle.

The government reminds operators to keep their vehicles maintained, in a safe-to-drive and roadworthy condition.

They should also still be operated within the terms of the operators’ licence conditions.

What did transport secretary Grant Shapps say?

“We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID-19 are able to do so,” said transport secretary Grant Shapps when making the MOT exemption announcement.

“Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.

“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”

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Garages told to stop discounting MOTs

MOT test

Garages have been urged not to discount MOT tests as customers stay at home. The advice, intended to minimise loss of income during the coronavirus crisis, comes from the Independent Garage Association. 

Car repair and MOT centres are deemed essential services and permitted to stay open during the Covid-19 lockdown. However, two factors have caused business to nosedive in recent weeks.

Firstly, the huge decline in driving. Mapping app Waze reports a 70 percent drop in miles driven as UK motorists heed government advice to remain indoors.

Secondly, all MOTs for cars, light vans and motorcycles due from Monday 30 March 2020 have been granted a six-month extension due to the pandemic.

MOT test

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) recommends charging £54.85 for an MOT test. However, many garages offer a reduced fee (typically between £19 and £35) to attract customers. 

Stuart James, chief executive of the Independent Garage Association (IGA) said: “Independent garages have faced a sudden, drastic decline in business due to the DVSA’s MOT extension and government instructions to stay at home.

“Provision of the MOT service is critical to the safety of UK road users, but many garages feel the need to discount MOTs to remain competitive, leaving them struggling to cover their hourly business costs. The industry cannot afford to continue providing MOT tests as a loss-making service going forward.

“As we start to see the lockdown easing, the time is right for garages to stand united by charging the DVSA’s recommended price of £54.85 for an MOT test.

“This will help independent garages to remain open, recoup recent losses, and allow them to carry out their vital roles keeping the UK’s vehicles running safely.”

Help your car pass its MOT with these 11 simple checks before the test.

68,000 drivers caught without MOT after test changes

68,000 drivers caught without MOT after test changes

Figures show that since the test changes implemented in May 2018, police have stopped more than 68,000 vehicles without a valid MOT.

The fine for being caught without an MOT increased, too. The typical charge is around £100, although this can increase to £1,000 if the case goes to court.

Drivers can face penalties of £2,500 if they’re caught driving with a ‘dangerous’ MOT classification.

Things to check before your MOT

Overall, the Treasury is thought to have made around £6 million in the 18 months since the changes to the test were made. The prosecution figures were obtained by Halfords, via a Freedom of Information request.

Halfords also conducted a survey of 2,000 motorists. It revealed that 22 percent had driven a car out of MOT, either because they’d forgotten, or didn’t know it was time for their test.

Seven percent said they didn’t know when their MOT was due at the time of the survey.

UK drivers let MOT lapse

“More than 100 motorists per day are caught by police driving without a valid MOT and our research suggests this is just a fraction of the people who are on the road with an expired test,” said Aaron Edwards of Halfords.

“However, for many this isn’t intentional, with many simply unaware their car’s MOT was due. Around one in five motorists have driven a car without a valid MOT because they had forgotten or didn’t know it was due.”

UK drivers let MOT lapse

However, some 15 percent said they knowingly drive around without an MOT. And 36 percent of these said this was because they couldn’t afford it, while 33 percent said they didn’t have time.

Also, 17 percent said it was because they couldn’t be bothered, while 23 percent simply thought they could get away with it.

Halfords waives MOT rebooking fee for virus self-isolators

Halfords waives MOT rebook fee for coronavirus self-isolators

Car accessory chain Halfords says it will waive the fee for rebooking an MOT test if customers need to self-isolate due to coronavirus symptoms.

Ordinarily, booking for a retest would cost an extra £35. However, those who are self-isolating are exempt from that 10-working-day rule, and can attend another MOT appointment without an additional charge.

Halfords waives MOT rebook fee for coronavirus self-isolators

Halfords offers certain services for those who are confined to their homes, too.

Technicians from the company’s Mobile Expert and Tyres On The Drive divisions can repair cars and fit new tyres on your driveway. 

UK drivers let MOT lapse

“We are monitoring the potential impact of the coronavirus and want to do as much as possible to help keep the nation moving at this critical time,” said Andy Randall, MD of Halfords Autocentres.

“We’re looking at each situation on a case-by-case basis and pledging to waive the booking fee for anyone who misses their MOT appointment because of coronavirus.”

Halfords offering free brakes for life

Halfords also recently offered ‘free brakes for life’. A one-off payment buys drivers a lifetime supply of braking consumables, such as pads and shoes, which covers any cars you own.

The firm claims this could save motorists around £1,600 over the course of their driving life. 

Simple and essential checks before your car’s MOT test

Things to check before your MOT

It’s March, which means a new registration plate for new cars. And increased sales mean more older cars will need an MOT test this month.

The annual MOT test is a legal requirement for all cars over three years old. Approved testing stations will make sure your car is operating as safely and cleanly as it was when new.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says around 40 percent of cars fail the MOT at the first attempt. Further MOT data reveals around half of faults could have been easily avoided.

These quick and easy checks allow you to fix faults before they cost your car an MOT pass. Here are 11 things to check on your car.

Emissions modifications

Diesel particulate emissions

Following an overhaul of the MOT test in May 2018, it’s never been harder to pass first time. Under strict new rules, faults are graded depending on how dangerous they are, with greater emphasis placed on diesel car emissions. As a result, emissions-related test failures have nearly doubled. So, how can you ensure your car will pass? Firstly, check it’s fitted with everything it had when it left the factory.

The removal of a catalytic converter nearly always results in a failed MOT. However, thanks to recent changes to the test, other emissions devices need to be retained as well. Removed your EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system, or your DPF (diesel particulate filter)? Or has the previous owner done so? 

These were popular modifications, designed to remove complicated and expensive parts the car can function without. But they may lead to an MOT fail. Make sure everything is plumbed in and working properly. We understand this is a bit more in-depth, and hardly a quick fix, but better the devil you know…

Lights

How to use your fog lights

This one is blindingly obvious, but so many motorists forget to check their lights before the MOT test. Indeed, a surprising 30 percent of faults found during the MOT test relate to lighting and signalling.

Make sure you check all lights – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights, fog lights and indicators – and be sure to include the brake lights in your inspection. Either ask a friend to press the brake pedal, or reverse up to a reflective surface. Make sure the high-level brake light is functioning correctly.

Number plates

Green number plate on electric car

Number plates (also known as licence plates) must show the car’s registration number correctly. You could be fined up to £1,000 and your car will fail its MOT if you drive with incorrectly spaced letters or numbers.

The number plates will also be inspected for condition, secure attachment and colour. Give yourself plenty of time to order a new set of plates – you can only order from a registered number plate supplier. You will need to prove your identity and show that you’re entitled to the registration number.

Also check that the number plate lights are working, if your car has them.

Wheels and tyres

Pre-MOT checks

Firstly, check that the wheels and tyres are undamaged – you can do this yourself or at a local tyre fitter. The minimum tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, and anything less than this will be marked as a fail.

However, we’d recommend changing the tyres when the tread reaches 3mm. Research has found that 13 percent of drivers knowingly drive with illegal tyres.

While spare wheels and tyres are not inspected, it’s worth noting that cars first used on or after 1 January 2012 will be checked to make sure the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is working.

Note: 10 percent of all MOT faults are related to tyres.

Seats and seatbelts

Honda Civic Type R 2020

Check that the driver’s seat can be adjusted and that all seats are securely fitted. It’s essential that the seatbacks can be fixed in the upright position.

While you’re there, check the entire length of the seatbelt for damage and pull on them sharply to ensure that they react appropriately.

Windscreen

Take a look at the windscreen to ensure that there are no cracks or damage to the glass. Any damage larger than 40mm will result in a fail, as will any chips or damage wider than 10mm in the area swept by the wipers.

Wipers

Checking a windscreen wiper blade

On the subject of wipers, make sure they are able to clear the windscreen of rain. If it’s not raining, use a watering can or a hose. The wiper blades should be free of damage or tears – it’s likely to be cheaper to buy a set of new blades in advance rather than relying on a distress purchase at the MOT test centre.

Note: 8.5 percent of all MOT faults are related to ‘Driver’s view of the road’. So, if you have stickers, toys or air-fresheners obstructing your view, remove them before the test.

Fluids

petrol

Your car could fail its MOT for having no screenwash, so make sure the washer bottle is topped up in advance. You’ll also be turned away from the MOT test centre if the vehicle has insufficient engine oil or fuel. The MOT tester will check the power steering fluid, too.

Horn

Again, it’s a simple one to check, but when was the last time you used your horn? Make sure it works and is the suitable horn for the vehicle.

Warning lights

If your car’s dashboard lights up like a Christmas tree you could be in for a rough ride at the MOT testing station. A failed main beam warning light will result in a fail, as will the ABS light, engine warning light, brake fluid light and airbag warning light. Get all dashboard lights checked out in advance.

Suspension and brakes

Pressing the brake pedal

One in 10 of all MOT fails are related to brake issues, and you can minimise the risk by testing the brakes every day. If you hear any strange noises or the car pulls to one side, consult a garage.

Similarly, the MOT tester will check the suspension, so press down on each front wing to check for worn shock absorbers. If the car ‘bounces’ up and down rather than returning to the correct position, they may be worn. Also, listen out for knocking noises

These simple checks should only take a few minutes, but it’ll be more hassle arranging for any repair work to be carried out or booking a re-test. For a full list of the car parts checked during the MOT test, visit the government website.

Remember, an MOT test isn’t the same as having your car serviced and doesn’t provide an accurate description of the vehicle’s general mechanical condition. Regular service and maintenance will almost certainly improve your chances of an MOT pass and fewer advisories.

A third of UK drivers have let their MOT lapse

UK drivers let MOT lapse

New research reveals that around 11 million UK motorists have let their car’s MOT lapse beyond its expiry date. 

The research from Kwik Fit also revealed that one in 10 of those who’d let their MOT lapse had done so repeatedly. And ‘repeatedly’ here means more than six times…

Drivers aged 18-34 are five times more likely to be a repeat offender than those 55 or older, too.

UK drivers let MOT lapse

A third of drivers use their car without an MOT for three days or less, which, while illegal, doesn’t sound so bad. More worryingly, the average time cars without a valid MOT are driven in the UK is around two months (66.2 days).

Londoners beat the national average of 29 percent twice over, with 63 percent of drivers in the capital admitting to having let their MOT lapse. 

Forgetfulness is the most common reason for the problem, with 42 percent saying they’d let their MOT slip their mind. Also, 21 percent said that it was because they didn’t make a note of the expiry date, while 16 percent said it was because their garage didn’t remind them. 

Financial woes are a major reason as well. Around 1.4 million drivers say they can’t afford the work the car would need. Ironically, however, this decision could end up costing you more. Driving without a valid MOT can carry a fine of £1,000, while driving a car considered to be in dangerous condition can land you with a fine of up to £2,500, with three penalty points to boot.

If you’re a repeat offender, like the three percent of drivers that admit to being so, you could find yourself banned from driving.

UK drivers let MOT lapse

“It is concerning to see that people are knowingly or unwittingly driving a vehicle which could pose a danger to them or other road users,” said Roger Griggs, communications director at Kwik Fit.

“We understand that people have busy lives and MOT dates can slip off the calendar or a ‘to do’ list. We would encourage drivers who don’t have a note of their expiry date to check it and get it marked in the calendar with plenty of time, to avoid any issues.  March is a peak month for MOTs and so drivers should book as far in advance as possible to ensure they don’t end up driving illegally.”

Basic car checks for before an MOT

UK drivers let MOT lapse

“Many cars fail their MOTs on components which drivers should be very aware of, such as illegal tyre tread or lights not working,” Griggs continued. 

“Some simple checks will enable motorists to prepare their car in advance and avoid that dreaded verdict of a fail.  Now that a car’s MOT history is available online for anyone to see, including a prospective buyer, having a consistent series of passes will help show that a vehicle has been well maintained.”

Car check% of drivers who complete this ahead of MOT
Check all lights are working38%
Check tyre tread depth34%
Check wiper blades32%
Check tyre condition (e.g. splits, nails)31%
Check all dashboard warning lights30%
Check mirrors are all functioning27%
Test horn is working23%
Check brake fluid levels21%
MOTs cancelled in Northern Ireland

Revealed: The biggest MOT myths

MOTs cancelled in Northern Ireland

Three percent of motorists thought a car radio not working would count as an MOT fail. That’s according to the results of a new survey.

Research shows that 7.6 million cars have been driven on the roads without a valid MOT – around 20 percent of the cars on the road. Thirty-one percent of the drivers polled in the Halfords survey were unaware that they could face a fine of up to £1,000 for driving without an MOT.

ALSO SEE: 10 things to check before an MOT test

Meanwhile, 16 percent didn’t know that an expired MOT puts them at risk of invalidating their car insurance.

When asked why they had driven without an MOT, 64 percent of drivers said they had forgotten when the test was due. Two-thirds of drivers (33 percent), believed there’s a grace period for driving without an MOT. There isn’t.

It’s worth remembering that the government runs a free MOT reminder service. You just need the car’s registration number and a phone number or email address. Click here to access the service.

‘An anxious time’

Pre-MOT checks

Aaron Edwards from Halfords Autocentres said: “The MOT test can be an anxious time –  it can be a little bit like waiting for your exam results. When it comes to doing things that may cause stress and cost money, people tend to leave these things to the last minute.”

The biggest MOT myths

RankMythPercentage
1.Didn’t realise that running out of water in the screen wash bottle would count as a fail71 percent
2.Didn’t know that windscreen stickers that obscure the driver’s view would be classed as a fail60 percent
3.Weren’t aware that having under-inflated tyres would mean a fail56 percent
4.Thought that window not opening would be a fail, but that isn’t the case33 percent
5.Didn’t know that driving with damaged windscreen wipers would be a fail31 percent
6.Thought they could pass their MOT without having a registration plate25 percent
7.Thought they could pass their test with a missing door mirror24 percent
8.Thought a radio not working with count as a fail3 percent

 

MOTs cancelled in Northern Ireland

MOT tests in Northern Ireland have been suspended

MOTs cancelled in Northern Ireland

All MOT tests in Northern Ireland have been suspended, effective immediately, after 48 of 55 lifts inspected in test centres were found to be unsafe.

The lifts were found to have damage that could put testers at risk, including structural cracks. Drivers in NI with an MOT test booked for today (Tuesday 28 January 2020) have been advised not to attend.

Pre-MOT checks

“This is hugely embarrassing,” said Paul Duffy, chief executive of the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA), speaking to BBC News Northern Ireland.

“I think we have a fairly good reputation and this is something that has tarnished that reputation.

“The DVA recognises the considerable inconvenience and disruption this will cause for many people and sincerely apologises that it has been unable to rectify this situation more quickly.”

Can’t get an MOT? There are exemptionsMOTs cancelled in Northern Ireland

So far, more than 5,000 tests have been cancelled, and rising. As of yesterday, drivers can apply for exemptions.

Cars going for their first MOT test will still be required to do so. They will be tested, temporarily, in lanes normally used for lorries and buses. Tests on HGVs and buses will also continue as normal.

Will car insurance be valid with no MOT?MOTs cancelled in Northern Ireland

There have been assurances that insurers will be ‘pragmatic’.

“I think the key thing here is to talk to your insurer,” said Malcolm Tarling of the Association of British Insurers.

“Let them know these quite unusual circumstances and get hold of one of those exemption certificates as well.”

“Insurers are going to keep a very close eye on the situation and they are going to be guided by the advice the authorities in Northern Ireland are giving out.”