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MOT extension – Millions of drivers warned to keep their car road-legal this winter

  • Lockdown has resulted in millions of MOTs being deferred – but drivers must keep their cars properly maintained regardless of MOT status  
  • Motorists warned to check their car is winter ready – simple tasks include checks to tyres, lights, windscreens, and anti-freeze levels.  
  • Drivers can be prosecuted for driving a car which is unsafe or not roadworthy.
  • GoCompare Car Insurance shares five tasks to keep your car road-legal this winter.

The coronavirus lockdown earlier this year resulted in millions of cars receiving a six-month extension to their MOT certificate1.  With the current MOT failure rate at 32%2, millions of vehicles that don’t meet levels of roadworthiness could be on the streets.  GoCompare Car Insurance is warning that this year, more than ever, it’s essential that drivers ensure that their cars are safe for winter driving.

Mark Greening from GoCompare Car Insurance commented, “The automatic extension of MOTs during the start of lockdown has left millions of cars without their annual roadworthiness check.  But regardless when your car’s MOT is due, you have a legal obligation to ensure that it is safe to drive.

“As we approach winter, shorter daylight hours, rain, fog, and snow can make driving more challenging.  So, it is essential drivers ensure their cars are in the best possible shape. Knowing how to do simple jobs such as checking the tread on your tyres or change a windscreen wiper blade will help you avoid getting a fine or points on your licence.   

“If poor car maintenance leads to an accident you could face criminal charges for driving a vehicle in an unroadworthy and dangerous condition. This could also invalidate your car insurance leaving you picking-up the bill should you need to make a claim.  Performing regular checks can also help keep down your car’s running costs.  A well-maintained car is less likely to breakdown and, knowing how to perform some basic tasks can save you money on repair bills.  If you don’t feel confident in preparing your vehicle for winter, many garages offer a winter check service.”

GoCompare Car Insurance shares five tasks to keep your car street-legal this winter.

  1. Tyres – the 20p coin check

The depth of tread on your tyres makes a significant difference to your car’s stopping distance, particularly in wet weather or icy conditions. The legal minimum depth of tread across the middle of the tyre is 1.6mm, which is roughly the same as the depth of the border on a 20p coin.  A simple check is to insert a 20p piece into the tread on your car’s tyres – they will be above the legal limit if you can’t see the outer band on the coin. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents recommends worn tyres are replaced well before the legal minimum tread limit is reached, ideally as soon as they reach 3mm. If you’re stopped while driving a car with tyres that are damaged or worn beyond the legal limit you could face three penalty points for each tyre and £2,500 in fines. 

Changes in air temperature can affect tyre pressure.  You can check of your vehicles’ tyres at a petrol station and your car’s handbook will give details of the correct pressure.     

  • Windscreen – keep it clean and in good nick

Shorter days and bad weather coupled with dirt and salt thrown-up from the road can dramatically affect visibility when you are driving, so it’s important that you keep your car’s windows clean.   Stock-up on de-icer to remove ice and frost on the windscreen and, ensure your car’s screen-wash reservoir is full and use a screen-wash with added antifreeze.

Check for any cracks or chips – these have the potential to make your car unroadworthy and should be dealt with quickly.   Also, sudden temperature changes associated with using boiling water to defrost your car’s windows can cause more chips or cracks to appear. 

Generally, if you have a crack or chip in your windscreen bigger than 10mm in the area directly in front of the driver, your car will fail its MOT. Damage larger than 40mm anywhere else on your windscreen will also result in a fail.

If you are stopped by the police you could receive a fixed penalty of three points and a fine.  If you are involved in an accident, you could be charged with a more serious driving offence. The accident could be deemed your responsibility because you were driving with a damaged windscreen.

Check your car’s windscreen wipers regularly.  Damaged or worn wipers don’t work effectively and leave smears on the glass, making it harder to see through.  If the rubber blades are worn or damaged replace the wipers.  Damaged wipers can cause a car to fail its MOT.    

  • Light the way

During the winter when the days are shorter or visibility is poor, it is essential that your car’s lights are in good working order.  Clean and check your vehicle’s lights regularly – don’t forget to check the full beam and fog lights as well.  Blown or cracked lights are a MOT failure and, driving with broken lights is both illegal and dangerous. 

  • Make sure your battery is up to scratch

Winter driving conditions can put extra pressure on your car’s battery.   Greater use of your car’s lights and heater puts added strain on the battery.   Batteries have a limited lifespan and those over five years old may need replacing.  You can get your car’s battery tested at petrol stations, garages or buy a home test kit. 

  • Top-up on antifreeze

Antifreeze or coolant is used to stop your engine overheating or and the water from freezing up in the winter. Frozen water expands and can split engine hoses and pipes, causing leaks, and reducing cooling efficiency. Make sure you use the right antifreeze/coolant for your vehicle by checking the manual or asking your garage for advice. Don’t forget to check use the right reservoir too.

For more information on car maintenance jobs you can perform at home see Gocompare.com’s essential motoring checklist: http://www.gocompare.com/car-insurance/essential-motoring-checklist/


For further information please contact:

Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare

Notes to editors

1The MOT extension which came into effect on March 30, was revised on 29 June.  Any cars due a test between 30 March and 31 July will receive an automatic six-month extension to their current certificate.  The extension does not apply to cars with an MOT expiry date on or after 1 August.   Motorists qualifying for the six-months extension are still required to keep their car in a road legal condition and can be prosecuted for not doing so.

2The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency: MOT class 3 & 4 vehicles: initial failures by defect category, January 2020. The initial failure rate for tests was 31.7%.       https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/855784/dvsa-mot-03-mot-class-3-and-4-vehicles-initial-failures-by-defect-category.csv/preview


GoCompare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs.

GoCompare does not charge people to use its services, and it does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. GoCompare makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. GoCompare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest, and has teamed up with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover.

GoCompare is the only comparison website to be invited to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

For more information visit www.gocompare.com and www.gocogroup.com