MOT check: Are car garages open for MOTs and servicing - and will the DVSA offer an extension?

How the new restrictions affect vehicle servicing and repairs

Drivers were offered a six-month MOT extension during the first lockdown
Drivers were offered a six-month MOT extension during the first lockdown

Lockdown restrictions have changed again recently in England, with more regions being placed into the most tightly controlled Tier 4 level.

Non-essential shops have been ordered to close and people told to stay at home unless they need to leave for work or a handful of other essential reasons.

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For drivers, that leaves them questioning what garage services they can still access and whether they can still have MOTs and servicing carried out.

Garages and service centres are allowed to remain open as essential services

Can I still get an MOT?

Yes, you can. Garages are classed as providing an essential service and are therefore allowed to remain open.

MOT tests are going ahead as normal, so if you have already booked a test or need to have your car tested during the four-week lockdown you still can. However, it’s worth checking with your garage as they are not obliged to stay open.

It’s also worth noting that there is a backlog of tests at the moment, so you may have to wait longer to get an appointment.

Will there be a second MOT extension?

During the first lockdown, the DVSA announced an extension to MOT validity, meaning anyone whose MOT was due to run out during the restrictions was automatically granted a six-month extension.

However, that is unlikely to happen again. As garages and service centres are able to remain open they can continue to carry out the tests and there is already a substantial backlog of tests.

Offering a further extension would make the current backlog worse. Millions of owners took advantage of the exemption to delay their car’s MOT but the extension period is now running out, leading to increased demand on MOT stations.

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Can I drive without an MOT if it expires during lockdown?

No. The MOT is a legal requirement and driving without one leaves you open to a fine of £1,000 and penalty points on your licence.

If your vehicle’s MOT is due to expire, whether or not it qualified for the first MOT extension, you must have your car tested and issued with a new pass certificate.

It is also against the law to drive an unroadworthy car even if you have a valid MOT, so you should complete regular checks to ensure it is safe to drive.

Can I still get my car serviced or repaired?

Yes. Garages and dealership workshops are allowed to remain open so you should be able to book a scheduled service or have repair work carried out.

However, showrooms have been forced to close and some dealerships may choose to close their service and maintenance departments as well, so double-check with your garage what their position is.

Remember, as well, that the government guidance is to avoid all non-essential travel so if you can safely delay your service you should. If your car has developed a serious or dangerous problem then you can, and should, arrange to have a garage assess and repair it. However, for minor problems or basic maintenance you should use your judgement about whether it is “essential” or “necessary”. There is plenty of advice on basic checks you can carry out at home to ensure your car remains roadworthy and the Government has issued this checklist of areas to check to stay safe.

During the last lockdown many car makers agreed to extend their service window so customers did not need to travel.