A look back at the Covid-19 MOT extension and the impact on UK garages

Mechanics and customer speaking after MOT

August 19, 2021

Due to the millions of motorists who chose to delay their annual MOT check during the Covid-19 pandemic, garages were expecting to be fully-booked last September.

Covid-19 MOT extensions

During the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, drivers in the UK were told that if their cars were due to have their annual MOT test between 30th March and 31st July 2020, they were entitled to have their due date postponed by 6 months.

For example, if a motorist’s MOT certificate was due to expire on 30th April 2020, they would have to ensure they booked their vehicle in for a test before the extended due date of 30th October.

In a study carried out by the AA, they found that around 80% of motorists that could have delayed, did not - they simply chose to get their car’s MOT check carried out on time (before the expiry date). 

Garages were expected to be super busy between September and December

Due to many drivers choosing to delay their MOT and take advantage of the extension, it was predicted that September would see a surge in the number of MOT bookings, resulting in increased pressure for trusted mechanics and garages across the country.

According to research by Continental Tyres, they expected that between 800,000 and 1.2 million extra tests would need to be carried out between the months of September and December 2020, so it was highly advisable that you checked when your MOT was due to expire and got it booked in as soon as possible.

Some garages may have allowed you to book your MOT check up to 90 days in advance - we always highly recommend doing this to make sure you’re vehicle will definitely have a valid MOT certificate, that it is safe to drive on UK roads and you avoid invalidating your car insurance and facing a fine of up to £1,000.

What’s been said?

The Head of Roads Policy for the AA, Jack Cousens, said at the time: “With more than 5.5 million cars deferring an MOT is it crucial that they are tested to ensure they are safe to use.”

He also said that “usually people leave booking their MOT to the last possible moment, [but] drivers won’t have that luxury this time”.

What was the outcome?

A graph showing number of MOT tests over 5 years

By looking at the graph above, created by Willitpass.com, you’ll see that from March to June in 2020, the number of MOTs that were carried out was a lot lower than in previous years, which was expected due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions put in place.

After this, there was a big spike from August 2020 onwards up until June 2021, showing that a lot more MOTs were being performed each month compared to previous years as a result of the backlog caused by the MOT extensions.

In July of this year (2021), you can also see that the number of MOTs is lower than previous years, suggesting that the majority of the MOT backlog is finally starting to clear.

The consequences of NOT having a valid MOT certificate

If your car does not have an MOT check before the previous certificate expires, you cannot drive it on UK roads as it is illegal under Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. The main reason for this is because your vehicle could be dangerous to you, other motorists or pedestrians.

The only time that you are allowed to drive your car without an MOT certificate is when you are driving it to your pre-booked MOT test with your chosen trusted garage.

Driving around with an invalid MOT certificate will result in a void car insurance policy, meaning that you won’t be able to claim on your policy to cover any costs involved with a car accident, and it also could lead to a fine of up to £1,000 and even 6 to 8 penalty points being endorsed on your driving licence, which will make car insurance much more expensive in the future.

According to Halfords, you could even receive a fine of £2,500, as this is the penalty for driving a dangerous car in the UK, so it will also depend on the condition your car was in when you were caught driving without an MOT.

Remember, the police can easily detect vehicles that do not have a valid MOT with their ANPR technology, so there is no avoiding any penalties if you are caught.

What should I do now?

Firstly, and especially now that things in the UK have started to return to normality, you need to check exactly when your MOT is due to expire and make sure you book a test before the expiry date - even if you’re booking two or three months ahead.

Bear in mind that it’s still going to be extra difficult to book a test due to busy garages having a bit of a backlog and you won’t be able to leave it until the last minute, so make it a priority!

For more MOT and car insurance advice, be sure to check out our related articles below.

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