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Beat the rush for MOTs this autumn with Trust My Garage

Is your motor due for an MOT in the coming months? Find out how you can beat the rush with Trust My Garage!

In March, the DVSA granted six-month MOT exemptions to vehicles due a test after 30th March 2020 and before 31st July as part of the UK government’s measures to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Those exemptions will begin to expire in September. Due to this, the DVSA are predicting October and November will be extremely busy for garages, as well as the usual December demand over the festive period.

Why should I book an MOT now?

Of the 9 million tests the DVSA moved, nearly 3 million vehicles have since had an MOT and passed. However, they want to help increase that number and ease the burden on the industry as demand increases in the autumn.

Autumn tends to be the busiest time of year for MOT tests under normal circumstances, but this year DVSA are expecting demand to double in September, October and November. If your MOT is due this autumn, consider getting it done as soon as possible to avoid the rush and ensure your vehicle is safe and roadworthy.

Using any vehicle with defects present on the highway, regardless of its MOT status, is an offence. You can be fined up to £2,500 – and be banned from driving and get up to 3 penalty points per defect for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

It’s worth remembering that just because your vehicle has an MOT it doesn’t mean it’s safe or roadworthy. Always carry out regular vehicle checks – you can find out which in our “What to do when… your vehicle needs some TLC” blog post. If you want more complex items, such as suspension components, to be checked you can contact your local trusted garage and request some help.

How do I check a vehicle’s MOT expiry date?

To check the MOT status and MOT expiry date for your vehicle, you can use the DVSA’s MOT History service. If your vehicle was subject to an MOT extension throughout the UK lockdown, its MOT expiry date will automatically have been moved by six months.

You can also use this webpage to check if there are any outstanding recalls on your vehicle. This service allows motorists to check for defects or problems reported by the vehicle manufacturer which can impede vehicle safety or performance. If a recall is noted within the service, it is best to contact your manufacturer’s nearest garage to arrange an inspection or repair.

How can I book an MOT?

To book an MOT, you must first locate an MOT station in your area and contact them to discuss their availability. An MOT test takes around 45 minutes, plus additional time if there are any advisories, minor or major defects which require further attention.

Some motorists opt to book an MOT along with a vehicle service within the same appointment, as this saves them a return trip to the garage at a different date. Be careful though, as not all garages are MOT stations, and not all MOT stations offer vehicle servicing!

To find a garage in your area, you can use the Trust My Garage “Find a Garage” search and locate your nearest TMG members! Each garage in our network adheres to a Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) approved Code of Conduct to ensure the highest levels of service and professionalism.  You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Why use Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who must comply with a strict code of practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

What to do when… You’re maintaining your vehicle during lockdown

With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic affecting the UK, many motorists are making efforts to keep their vehicle in tip-top shape without breaking the social distancing measures set in place by the UK government. To help drivers, Trust My Garage has put together some advice on how you can stay within the guidelines and keep your vehicle at its best – read on to find out more!

With the implementation of a lockdown, it is best to use your car only for essential travel – such as food shopping, collecting a prescription, medical appointments or travelling to work if you are unable to work from home. By using vehicles less frequently than is the norm, many motors are left standing on driveways, in garages and parked on the roadside, leading to potential roadworthiness and safety issues.

Remember, many garages remain open for essential repairs, so if you have any concerns about your vehicle’s roadworthiness, get it checked out as soon as possible.

MOT status, tax and insurance – are you covered?

Without getting into your vehicle, you could be in violation of the UK’s motoring laws – but you can take simple steps to be sure you aren’t driving illegally.

MOT

Due to the pandemic, the UK government is extending car MOTs due from 30th March onward by six months on a 7-day rolling basis (so an MOT due on 1st April is now due on 1st October, and so on). Review dates are currently subject to a staggered implementation, and extended dates are being posted on the Gov.uk website here. To find out more on how the extension works, you can view our “The MOT Extension – how does it work and does it apply to you?” here.

Even if your vehicle’s MOT has been extended by the government, should you feel it is unsafe or unroadworthy take it to a garage as soon as possible for an MOT, repairs or maintenance. Your safety and the safety of other road users is paramount!

Tax

Although you may not be using your vehicle as regularly as normal, it is still subject to Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), commonly known as road tax. This is an annual tax that is levied as an excise duty and which must be paid for most types of vehicles which are to be driven or parked on public roads in the UK.

About a month before your road tax expires the DVLA will issue you with a V11 Vehicle Tax Reminder, containing the information you need to either renew your tax online, via telephone or at a Post Office branch, as well as the date your current road tax period will expire. You can also check the status of your road tax online via the Gov.uk website here.

Insurance

During lockdown, you may also need to check that your vehicle is still insured for use. Your insurance provider will send a reminder email or letter approximately a month before your policy is due for renewal, so you can choose to either renew with your current supplier, or with another provider depending on what suits you best.

If you aren’t sure when your insurance renewal is due, your existing policy documents will provide the correct date. Insurance providers often supply these via an online portal or paper format, depending on what you have requested, so you can check at your convenience.

Tread carefully when it comes to tyres

You should check your tyre pressures at least every two weeks – and if your vehicle has a spare, check that too! Under inflated tyres increase fuel consumption and reduce vehicle handling, and they also lead to increased tyre wear, which means your tyres may require replacing sooner than you expect.

The legal limit for minimum tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the whole tyre, however it is recommended to keep your tyres at 3mm or above for optimum grip. Drivers who fail to comply with the regulations face a fine of up to £2,500 and three penalty points for each illegal tyre. You should also look out for cuts or wear anywhere on the tyre and replace them if you can see tears or bulges.

If a vehicle stands for an extended period of time, flat spots may occur on your car’s tyres. These happen when a vehicle’s wheels have not rotated for a long period of time and the downward pressure from the body causes the tyres to become misshapen where they contact the road surface.

When a car has a flat spot on one of its tyres, this can lead to symptoms such as vibrations on the steering and inconsistent handling, because the wheel is unbalanced. If flat spots do occur on your tyres, they may rectify themselves as the vehicle is brought back into use; however this may take some time. If you are unsure whether the vibration you are encountering is a tyre flat spot or something more serious, contact your local garage.

Batteries and brakes – are they roadworthy?

When a vehicle is not used for a prolonged period of time there is a risk of the battery power draining to a point where there is insufficient charge to start your car. If you find your car has a flat battery you have a number of options:

  • Charge it using the correct type of external battery charger
  • Jump start the car using jumper leads connected to another vehicle or battery.

Before using either option it is always advisable to consult your vehicle handbook to ensure you connect any cables correctly, as so incorrect use could cause damage to your vehicle’s sensitive electrical systems.

If there are two cars in your household, you may want to consider alternating your essential trips in them. You should also be mindful that repeated short journeys will flatten your battery faster than usual, which is even more reason to follow the government’s guidance to shop for necessities as infrequently as possible. You should also avoid turning your engine on only to turn it off again shortly after.

Another issue that can occur when vehicles are left unused for long periods is brake seizure or sticking. This makes it difficult to get the vehicle rolling after not being used. If your brakes do stick or seize on this may not be as easy to resolve as a flat battery, so contact your local garage and arrange for a vehicle check prior to undertaking any travel after prolonged periods without use.

Working brakes should have a foot pedal that feels firm throughout its working travel, getting firmer the more you push down on the pedal. If you notice that the brakes feel spongy or slack, and perhaps the car appears to be taking longer to slow down or stop, you likely have air in the brake lines. If this is the case, take your vehicle to a garage to have it inspected!

Keep things fluid

You should check fluid levels to keep your engine well maintained and have your car ready to drive when you need it. Top up your:

  • Oil: Make sure your engine oil level is showing between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick. If your vehicle doesn’t have a dipstick consult the handbook on how to check your engine oil level electronically. Details of the correct oil type and grade will also be noted in your handbook.
  • Coolant: The coolant level in your vehicle should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the water tank in the engine compartment. If you need to top up your coolant, you must do so as per the vehicle manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Windscreen wash: A clear view of the road is vital. A dirty windscreen combined with low Spring sunshine can make visibility difficult. If your washers aren’t working correctly your view of the road ahead can be severely impaired, so top up your screen wash and check you wiper blades for dirt or trapped debris

Take a long, hard look

Prior to setting off on any journey, it’s always good to visually inspect your vehicle for any issues, such as dirty or broken lights or tyre inflation, and ensure your front and rear number plates are clearly visible.

Not sure how best to care for your car?

Our ‘What to do when…’ series can provide some further tips and insight across other areas of motoring and vehicle maintenance to help you ensure your motor is running at its best! You can check out our other posts in the series here.

If you’re looking for a professional local garage to help give your car some TLC you can find a local CTSI approved Trust My Garage member by visiting the Trust My Garage website’s ‘Find a Garage’ map! You can even read reviews from other motorists about the members in your area to help you decide which garage is right for you. Try it out here:

Want to know more about Trust My Garage?

Trust My Garage is a collection of Britain’s trusted local garages – each one different and all dedicated to the highest standards of skill and personal service.

Every garage in Trust My Garage are members of the Independent Garage Association, which is part of the RMI, one of Britain’s oldest motor trade organisations. IGA members are true professionals who have to comply with a strict code of practice.

Every customer of all Trust My Garage members can rely on using a nationally recognised brand to help you and your vehicle get the best value service for you and your vehicle. If you want to find out more about Trust My Garage, visit our website, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Don’t forget: If you can think of any more top lockdown maintenance tips, leave us a comment in the box below!

The MOT Extension – how does it work and does it apply to you?

With the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic currently affecting the UK, the Government has implemented a rolling 6-month MOT exemption for vehicles with their MOT due. Not sure of how it works or what it means for your car? Trust My Garage has the answers! Read on to find out more.

UPDATE: The DVSA have published further updates to their guidance, stating that if a vehicle fails its MOT, the exemption is no longer valid. A failed vehicle needs to be fixed and pass its MOT before it can be driven on the road. Read the guidance in full here.

What changes have happened?

The Government issued an instruction on 23rd March in which the public have been asked to remain at home as much as possible to help curb the spread of the coronavirus currently occurring worldwide. This includes working from home where feasible, minimising contact with other people and remaining in isolation if they believe they have one or more symptoms of the virus.

Critical workers, such as medical staff, delivery drivers and teachers are still being asked to work, and garages have been listed as one of the business types which can remain open to help support people during this time.

What happens if my MOT is due?

The DVSA have announced that MOTs due on or after Monday 30th March have been granted a six-month extension on a rolling basis – so if your vehicle is due on 1st April, it will now be due on 1st October instead.

This process is being applied approximately 7 days ahead of the expiry date of the vehicle’s MOT certificate, so has not yet been applied to all vehicles due for MOT over the coming weeks. For example: every Tuesday, the following Tuesday’s tests are moved 6 months ahead.

The new ‘due date’ will appear in the DVSA’s MOT History service when it is amended. It enables motorists to check their extension has been done and they can legally use that vehicle to get to work as a critical worker, or for purchasing necessary shopping.

What happens if my vehicle needs maintenance or a repair?

The Government have asked the public to ensure their vehicles remain in a safe and roadworthy condition, even when they’ve been granted an MOT extension.

Using any vehicle with defects present on the highway, regardless of its MOT status, is an offence. You can be fined up to £2,500 – and be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

One way of checking if your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition is to ensure it has a valid MOT certificate.

As garages are still allowed to be open during this time, you should be able to contact one of over 3,000 Trust My Garage members and discuss your options. Many garage businesses are now offering a free collection and delivery service to help vulnerable or at-risk motorists, or those who are in self-isolation too.

To find your nearest Trust My Garage member, you can try our handy “Find a Garage” map, or pop in your postcode here:

If you know what your vehicle needs, TMG members can even provide a work estimate online – so you know what service your vehicle will receive, and at what rate! You can also view each garage’s profile to learn more about the business, their opening hours and check ratings from other customers, so you can be 100% confident in the garage you choose to use.

All TMG members subscribe to a Trading Standards-approved Code of Conduct, which includes a strict Customer Charter, and each member upholds the high standards of quality garages designed to support their customers’ needs.

More about Trust My Garage

If you’re looking for more information about Trust My Garage, you can head over to our website, TrustMyGarage.co.uk. We’re also on social media, so check out our Facebook and Twitter profiles to get the latest motoring news and updates straight into your social feeds – and you can even check out our latest TV advert below!

If you’ve got any comments or feedback about your trusted local TMG members, be sure to leave us a comment in the box below!