One in five MOT extension cars still haven’t had a test

mot extension
Nearly two million drivers don’t have an MOT (Picture iStock/Mark Eastham)

Around one in five of the drivers who opted for the MOT extension during the pandemic last year hasn’t had their car retested. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) which oversees the annual roadworthiness checks said that around 1.86 million vehicles (19.5 per cent) still have to take their test.

It means hundreds of thousands of vehicles that are potentially unsafe could be on the road. Using a dangerous car is illegal and their drivers could be liable for a £2500 fine.

What was the MOT extension?

During the first coronavirus lockdown in 2020, the government allowed a six-month MOT extension. Any driver whose MOT was due between 30 March and 1 August 2020 could delay having their MOT carried out by up to six months. This was an attempt to stop the spread of the virus through garages.

If your MOT was due by 1 August, you had until 1 February to put your car through the test. Garages did remain open so not all drivers took advantage of the extension.

How many cars haven’t taken their MOT?

All of the nearly 10 million cars that took advantage of the MOT extension should have taken their test by now. The DVSA’s figures estimate around 1.86 million of these vehicles now need an MOT but don’t have one.

Why is this important?

The MOT is the annual roadworthiness check for cars that are three years and older. Usually around a third of vehicles fail their MOT every year. That means there could be about 600,000 cars on the road that don’t have an MOT and are unsafe.

The environment and our health might be suffering too. In 2018, the emissions test part of the MOT was made tougher, particularly for diesel cars. As a result, in 2019-20 almost 1.3m vehicles failed the emissions test. That’s nearly double the 745,000 that didn’t pass for emissions in 2017-18.

mot extension
Some drivers seem to be taking this a bit too literally… (Picture iStock/ChrisSteer)

Why haven’t drivers taken their MOT?

The DVSA believes that a large number of drivers have simply forgotten to re-book their car in for its MOT. But research by the Motor Ombudsman found that nearly nine out of 10 drivers knew exactly when their MOT expired.

Some people might have found they don’t need their cars. During the 2020 lockdown, the number of cars that registered a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) doubled. But recent research by the National Accident Helpline estimates that the number of people using their car as a main mode of transport will only fall by around 2.5 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels.

If you’ve remembered your car needs an MOT, find a garage here.

What has the extension meant for drivers?

According to garages, people whose MOTs fell between March and August chose to take the extension to buy six months of MOT-free motoring.

But it means that rather than being spread over 12 months, a lot of the MOTs that would have taken place during the late spring and early summer months now fall in autumn and winter.

As these now coincide with MOTs that would have been due over the winter months anyway, garages that do MOTs are very busy towards the end of the year. Conversely, they are very quiet during the summer months.

Going forward, drivers who want an MOT between October and February will need to book in advance to be sure they can get the date they want. Alternatively, book a garage through Green Flag.

We’re supporting Highways England’s ‘Go Left’ campaign.  If you break down on the motorway, remember to go left.

Find out more on the Highways England website.

2 comments on “One in five MOT extension cars still haven’t had a test

  1. Brian Whelan 07/05/2021 12:22 PM

    I’ve change my car

  2. Derek Freegard 02/07/2021 8:24 AM

    When the first lockdown started the engineering company I worked for kept going and I drove to work down near deserted roads. A month or so in I took my car to the nearby for MOT. I knew about the six month extention but decided to get it done. The tyre and MOT garage I used was empty. I was the only MOT that day. MOT chap also said then it would cause problems later

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