How does the MOT 6-month extension work? Q&A and video

Time 2 years ago

The government has extended all MOTs due in the next 12 months by a further 6 months – to allow for people who might not be able to get out because of the coronavirus crisis.

But there is still a lot of confusion among the public and the trade as to how this works. 

We’ve written lots of articles about this already, but have digested here everything we know to help you in one easy to find place.

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Do I need to get an MOT during the coronavirus?

No. The government has announced that vehicle owners will be granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing so they can continue to travel during the coronavirus crisis. 

This new legislation came into force on March 30.

However, after March 30, all car drivers have effectively been given an 18-month MOT if theirs is due between March 30, 2020 and March 29, 2021. 

The Department of Transport told Car Dealer Magazine that the measures were put in place to ensure that all key workers can get to work. It is not known by the department how long the restrictions will be in place, so it gives it leeway to allow for any other law changes.

How does the automatic 6 month MOT extension work?

Anyone with an MOT due in the next year will automatically get an extension of six months seven days before it is due, according to the latest guidance.

The clarification from the Department for Transport – who wrote the legislation – effectively gives all car drivers an 18-month MOT if theirs falls due between March 30, 2020 and March 29, 2021.

Why was the 6 month MOT extension put in place?

A Department for Transport spokesperson told Car Dealer Magazine: ‘This was put in place to ensure all key workers can get to work. We do not know how long the current restrictions will be in place so this gives us leeway to allow for that.

‘This means anyone with an MOT due in the next year will get a 6 month extension. This law can be changed again, but the year gives us scope to allow for any changes.’

When will I get my automatic 6 month MOT extension?

The extensions will be applied approximately seven days ahead of the due date, which will give the authorities the ability to change the legislation again if they need to in the future.

The legislation has been put in place for a year, said a DFT spokesperson, as a back-stop just in case the lockdown continues longer than thought, or further lockdowns are needed in the future.

Does this mean garages will have no business if the lockdown is lifted?

It does potentially mean garages will be quieter during the next few months.

However, the legislation was written because no one knows how long this current lockdown will go on for – or if any more will be introduced again in the future. 

By allowing this to be in place for a year, the DFT has given itself breathing room should further lockdowns happen again.

It also means that although in the next six months there will be a downturn in business, it does mean that eventually over the next few years that will flow back through evenly, as those needing an MOT later in the year will move forward into these months that are empty now.

What does keeping my car roadworthy mean?

The DfT emphasised the following applied during the exemption period:

‘Vehicles must be kept in a roadworthy condition, and garages will remain open for essential repair work. Drivers can be prosecuted if driving unsafe vehicles.

‘People should stay at home and avoid travel. The only reasons people should leave their homes is set out in the government advice.’

Should I still get my car MOT’d if we’re allowed out and I’ve been given an extension?

Many garages are still open for business and can repair cars. MOTs can be carried out but this is not essential currently – staying at home is – so it’s not advisable to get your car booked in for an MOT, even if you’re a key worker. The extensions were designed to give people breathing space and allow social distancing.

Am I allowed to get my car repaired?

Yes. Cars must be kept in a roadworthy condition so if you’re a key worker you can get your car repaired or tyres changed.

Other people should think carefully about the importance of needing their car before booking the work in – can it wait until after the lockdown? If not, and you need your car for essential travel, you can get it repaired. Speak to your local garage and ask about their operation method during this time.

Do I need to get my car serviced during the coronavirus crisis? 

OK, let’s face facts: You should be staying at home, and getting your car serviced during this time is not essential. We spoke to a variety of main dealer bosses – who have closed their showrooms and workshops – and they said manufacturers will be very lenient on warranties affected by this during this time of national crisis. 

Many car manufacturers have put in place official exemptions during this time.

If you car has broken down and you need it as you are a key worker, some garages and MOT stations are open. Call around. 

Dealers and garages should offer customers everything they can to make sure it is easy – and safe – to have any repair work completed. Now some parts of the car business have closed, there is likely to be some leniency for those cars not looked after, as per the manufacturer guidelines. Missing a service by a month or two isn’t the end of the world – staying inside and protecting others right now is key.

How can I book my car in for a service or MOT during this time?

Car dealerships and garages are offering a variety of online booking methods for customers so they can make arrangements to have their cars looked after. It is best to call your dealership or garage before visiting and asking what their arrangements are to deal with your work.

MOTs are obviously not quite as important at the moment – as per the advice above.

Garages and car dealerships rely on servicing work to keep their wheels turning, so think long and hard before cancelling appointments. These professionals are working hard to keep their businesses running and your support will make all the difference to them.

Something that franchised dealers will be able to offer people now having to stay at home is a no-contact MOT collection and delivery service.

Available from real-time price comparison website BookMyGarage on its SecretService platform, it sees customers asked to place their keys in a bag and inform the garage of their location. The garage’s drivers wear gloves and use seat covers among other hygiene protocols. 

How do I SORN my car? 

Tell the DVLA you’re taking your vehicle off the road. But your car will need to be physically ‘off the road’ – on a driveway or in a garage, for example. 

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This is called a ‘Statutory Off Road Notification’ (SORN). You’ll get a refund for any full months of remaining tax – and you won’t be able to use the vehicle on the road until you tax it again. 

You don’t need insurance for a car that is not being used so can cancel in this circumstance. However, if it gets stolen you will not get reimbursed for the loss.

More: All our Help & Advice articles can be found here

James Baggott's avatar

James is the founder and editor-in-chief of Car Dealer Magazine, and CEO of parent company Baize Group. James has been a motoring journalist for more than 20 years writing about cars and the car industry.

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