DON'T put off renewing your MOT until the due date because you could put your car insurance at risk - AND you could be slapped with a £1,000 fine.
If you've lost track of when your certificate expires, don't worry. We explain how to check when your MOT is due, and the new rules on MOT extensions during the coronavirus outbreak.
What is an MOT?
An MOT (Ministry of Transport) is a test to make sure your vehicles, including motorbikes, meet legal safety standards.
Drivers should try to organise an MOT test with a qualified mechanic BEFORE their certificate expires.
How much your MOT costs will change depending on the type and size of vehicle you drive.
But fees for cars are capped at £54.85, and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle.
The MOT tester will carry out a series of tests and check that the lights, steering, suspension, windscreen, horn, seat belts, tyres and brakes - among other things - are all in proper working condition.
The mechanics will also check your car's fuel system and emissions.
Your MOT will not test the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox.
How can I check my MOT expiry date?
If you have lost track of your MOT due date then don't worry because it is very easy to check.
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has created a free reminder service that will help make sure you never miss that important date.
The AA also offers a similar online service called Automyze to check the due date, as well as providing a list of nearby MOT garages.
You can get an MOT up to a month, minus a day, before it expires - and still keep the same renewal date.
If you own a brand new car then you don't have to get an MOT until the third anniversary of its registration.
After that, you have to get your vehicle tested every 12 months.
What if I lose my MOT certificate?
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency has recently launched a new service where car owners can download a copy of their MOT certificate for free, so no need to pay a garage £10.
You can also still apply for a replacement certificate through any MOT centre - and it doesn't have to be the one where the initial test was done.
Simply ring the centre up (you can't apply online) and give them your number plate and log book reference number.
You will be charged £10 or half the MOT test fee (if this is less) for a replacement.
Can I drive my car if my MOT certificate has expired?
If the MOT certificate has expired then the ONLY time you can drive your car is to an MOT test centre.
You will have to be able to prove that you've pre-booked an MOT appointment if you are stopped by police.
What if my car fails its MOT?
If your car fails its MOT, you will be given an MOT test refusal certificate.
If your original certificate has already expired, you will no longer be able to drive your car, unless you are taking it to a garage to have the failed defects fixed.
However, if you receive an MOT test refusal certificate before it expires you can still drive your car.
You still have to get the defects fixed before returning it to the garage for a retest.
You can be fined up to £2,500, banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a car deemed to be in a dangerous condition.
New changes to the MOT introduced in May 2018 will make it more difficult for diesel cars to pass the test.
The government was considering extending the date before a car needs an MOT from three to four years, but the proposal has since been scrapped out of safety concerns.
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What is an MOT extension and when does it end?
At the end of March 2020, drivers were handed a six-month MOT extension on cars, motorbikes and vans during the coronavirus outbreak.
This meant that people whose MOTs ran out would not have to seek a new one from March 30 onwards.
However, mandatory MOT tests are set to start again from August 1 as coronavirus restrictions are lifted, the government has announced.
The restriction was announced so that fewer people went to mechanics to help curb the spread of coronavirus.
But, on August 1, the extension is coming to an end, meaning drivers need to make sure their car has an MOT certificate to be road legal.
Cars, vans, and motorbikes due between March 30 and July 31 will still be eligible for the six-month break - provided they're kept in a roadworthy condition.
If you're eligible, your MOT expiry date will automatically be extended by six months. People can still get their MOT earlier should they wish, even if they are exempt from the legal requirement.
Drivers can still be prosecuted for driving unsafe vehicles, as well as being fined £2,500, getting banned from driving, and getting three penalty points.
Drivers who are vulnerable or self-isolating should contact their local garage, as some are offering pick up and drop off services so that drivers can get their car checked without visiting a garage.
If you can't take your vehicle for its MOT and your vehicle tax is due to run out, you can register it as off the road (SORN) on the gov.uk website.