Getting a car MOT tested during the coronavirus lockdown


With strict restrictions in place to prevent people from leaving homes and gathering in groups, motorists with scheduled car maintenance might wonder if they can still have work carried out on their vehicles. 

MOT tests, servicing, repairs, filling up with fuel and collecting motors just purchased will be top of the agenda for owners, especially those deemed critical workers who are relying on their cars.

This is Money explains what the Government has said so far and which services are impacted.

Can I get my car MOT tested during the coronavirus lockdown? The Government says test centres can – for now – remain open

Can I get my car MOT tested?

As it currently stands, vehicle owners can have their cars MOT tested at any of the 23,000 centres operating across the UK.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency – which is responsible for MOT tests – states: ‘Requirements relating to vehicle use and testing are currently under review in light of the coronavirus, with further updates to be provided in due course.’  

This means if your car, motorbike or light van has an MOT that’s due to expire you will need to arrange to have a test carried out, otherwise you cannot drive it on the road without voiding the terms of you motor insurance and putting you at risk of being fined up to £1,000 if caught.

However, DVSA reiterates that drivers who are self-isolating after contracting the virus should not take their vehicle to be tested.

You can have a new MOT test done up to 28 days before the current one expires, so those with concerns that they could get ill can do this at the earliest convenience. 

If you fail to do this and self-isolation means you can’t take the car for a test, you can tell the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency that it is SORN and not being used. 

SORN is a Statutory Off Road Notification, which can be filled in online at DVLA’s site or by calling the agency directly on 0300 123 4321.  Vehicles owners will need the 11-digit number from their car’s V5 registration document.

Once you’ve recovered from the virus symptoms and are able to safely leave your home, you can book a test take the car to a garage to get a new MOT. 

You will need evidence that a test is booked in case you’re stopped by the police on the way to the garage.

Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office, said in an interview today: ‘Garages can remain open and that’s both for essential maintenance for cars and making sure they are safe on the road and for providing petrol.

‘But I would urge people to exercise self control and people should not be out and about unless they absolutely need to be for work.’

While this might be the case for passenger cars, there are restrictions in place for other vehicle types.

MOT tests for heavy goods vehicles, trailers and public service vehicles – such as buses – have all been suspended for three months from March 21. 

Vehicles in these groups that are due to have an MOT expire during this period will be issued with a three-month exemption certificate to allow them to remain on the road with the provision that they are tested as soon as the ban lifts.

If vehicle servicing can be avoided during these unprecedented times, it should be. However, garage can remain open under the current guidance

If vehicle servicing can be avoided during these unprecedented times, it should be. However, garage can remain open under the current guidance

Will I be able to get my car serviced? 

While the Government insists you will still be able to get your car serviced, many franchised dealerships are having to close due to the virus pandemic, which could hit the workforce in their dedicated servicing centres. 

The National Franchised Dealers Association has called on the government to ensure that ‘essential’ repair and maintenance services for vehicles will not be shutdown as part of wider closures of shops to ensure critical workers are driving safe cars that are mechanically sound.

If you’re self-isolating due to having the virus, the recommendation is that you don’t leave home – which is causing concerns for those with newer cars with servicing plans that require them to have their vehicles checked under warranty requirements.

If you own a car with a ‘variable servicing agreement’ based on mileage, you don’t need to worry as it won’t be acquiring miles during the time you’re self-quarantining. 

That said, if your motor is subject to fixed servicing intervals determined at specific times, there isn’t as much clarity. 

Most manufacturers allow a grace period of around one month or 1,000 miles to have the car tested before the warranty is invalidated by a lack of care on the owner’s part. 

The Motor Ombudsman recommends anyone in this situation should contact the car manufacturer for advice. 

With dealers closing this week and unable to facilitate this, you are likely to need to call the brand’s head office.

Fixter can collect, MOT or service your car and drop it back without you having to interact with other people - and they have new measures in place to clean vehicles once they're delivered back to their owners

Fixter can collect, MOT or service your car and drop it back without you having to interact with other people – and they have new measures in place to clean vehicles once they’re delivered back to their owners

Services to make MOTs, servicing and repairs easier and safer during pandemic

There are a number of services that allow for no-contact collection and delivery of vehicles for all maintenance requirements. 

Comparison site BookMyGarage says it has seen a rise in the number of garages offering no-contant services.

Some are offering this for free and all the motorist has to do is inform the garage of where they have left the keys. 

The person collecting the car will also be wearing protective gloves and use other protective equipment as appropriate when collecting and returning the vehicle.

The no-contact delivery and collection is being offered to those who need it, including NHS staff, other key workers, as well as those who require the service during these unprecedented times.  

Fixter, an end-to-end online car maintenance service, confirmed its business is booming, experiencing its single busiest day on record on Wednesday 18 March.

It said that in the Covid-19 crisis, customers are valuing the ‘physical contact free’ Fixter service, with their cars picked-up then serviced, MOT’d or maintained before being dropped back at their homes. 

The company has also introduced a sanitising cleanse for cars, before they are returned to customers, including a wipe down of the steering wheel, gear knobs, driving controls and handles.

There are also specialist services being offered to those still having to work.

For instance, Halfords is providing a free ten point car check  – normally worth £15 – to all NHS frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic. 

The checks, which includes top-ups of tyre inflation, screen wash and checks on oil levels, headlights and brake lights, are intended to help keep vital NHS workers moving at this critical time.

Taxing and insuring a vehicle unaffected

With Vehicle and Excise Duty shifting from paper discs to online in 2014, motorists can renew their car tax online using the government website.

The restrictions of movement should also not impact insurance and breakdown recovery policy renewals, which can be placed online. 

Can I still fill up with fuel?

Petrol stations remain open, for now. And prices at the pumps are falling.

However, under the directive of the Government, it should only be critical workers who are allowed to leave their homes to take advantage of cheaper petrol and diesel.

This week, Asda and Morrisons both announced cuts of up to 12p-a-litre on petrol due to the fall in wholesale fuel prices due to the crash in oil value in the last fortnight. 

Car showrooms have been ordered to close from Monday evening, meaning buyers and collectors of new vehicles will have to wait

Car showrooms have been ordered to close from Monday evening, meaning buyers and collectors of new vehicles will have to wait

Buying – or collecting – new cars will be impacted

Many franchised dealer groups announced on Monday that they would be temporary closing showrooms.

Sytner, Marshall Motor Group, HR Owen, Lookers and Chorley Group said they would be closing dealerships hours ahead of the Prime Minster’s announcement that all non-essential businesses – including motor showrooms – should not be opening for trade. 

This means customers can still place orders for cars over the phone, though the appeal of this is very limited. 

Orders already placed will also not be able to be collected due to dealership staff being told to stay home. 

This isn’t good news for the industry, with registrations of new vehicles falling back another 2.4 per cent last year to the lowest output for six years. And there’s been further declines in the first two months of 2020.

Last week, motor dealership group Pendragon slumped to an annual loss of £16.4million in the last year as it struggled to offload ‘excess’ used car stock. 

And the owner of major dealers Evans Halshaw and Stratstone warned that future prospects looked even worse than the sales slump in its rear view mirror.

Online vehicle purchasing site BuyaCa has introduced its own contactless handovers of new cars for vulnerable people, such as the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, as the business seeks ways to help consumers and dealers overcome unprecedentedly challenging times.

The business says it is also in the process of boosting stock, with stringent preparation and cleaning processes in place to ensure the safety of customers, who can now buy and even receive a car without stepping out of their home.

It is also waiving its £199 charge for delivery of new motors to key workers – and provide them with a £499 two-year warranty free of charge.

Used car sales will be affected by the government's restrictions, but there are services that might still be able to help

Used car sales will be affected by the government’s restrictions, but there are services that might still be able to help

What about buying a second-hand car? 

Used car dealerships are also being forced to close under the guidance of the Government, and with drivers told not to go out and mix with people in their immediate family they don’t live with there should be very limited private transactions taking place. 

This has opened the door for revolutionary online business, Cazoo, which is reporting strong demand for its service in the current climate of consumers staying home and social distancing.

Cazoo holds its own stock of thousands of second-hand vehicles, similar to an Amazon warehouse, and you can purchase entirely on the website or app.

It fully reconditions every motor before offering it for sale and delivers stock for free to customer’s doors in a two-hour delivery slot. 

Every vehicle sold comes with a seven-day money-back guarantee, so you can return it if you’re unhappy with the car, there’s also a free comprehensive 90-day warranty and roadside assistance.

Deliveries are conducted at an extended distance in order to protect both customers and employees during the pandemic, it says.

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