Category Archives: MOT

What should I do if I forget my MOT

What should I do if I forget my MOT?

It is a legal requirement for every vehicle of more than 3 years old to have an MOT test on a yearly basis in order to gain a certificate of being safe for the road. An MOT is important to for several reasons; it ensures that the vehicle is roadworthy, it gives you a heads up regarding any problems which may rise in the future, it gives you peace of mind as a driver and it is the law to have them done.

Despite the importance of taking your car for its MOTs, life sometimes gets in the way, causing some people to forget that their MOT is even due. In these circumstances, the realisation that you may have forgotten your MOT can be a shock, causing you to feel extremely stressed. You may not even know what to do about your situation, and how to resolve it.

If this all sounds very familiar, there is no need to panic, simply read ahead to find out what you need to do next to stay legal and avoid any fines as well as acting as soon as possible.

Do I need an MOT test?

Do I need an MOT test?

If you have not taken your vehicle for its MOT, it may be because you have only just come to the realisation that you need one. Every vehicle over 3 years old needs to go for an MOT test once a year. This will involve it being inspected before a certificate of roadworthiness is issued for the vehicle.

You need to book your car in for its MOT test every year, before the date on which it was tested the year before. For example, if your car went for its MOT test on the 15th August last year, the test will need to be completed by the 14th August to ensure the vehicle is fully covered year round. Also take into consideration that the vehicle may need repairs, which could hold you up from driving it even longer.

MOTs are not only important for legal reasons, but they are also important to insure the safety of you as the vehicle driver and other road users. The car will be checked for any potential safety hazards including brakes, emissions, tyres and many interior and exterior issues. However, the car’s MOT test only reflects a snapshot in time and is only a guarantee of a very basic level of safety. For this reason, it is highly important that you maintain your car in other ways too to ensure it is fully roadworthy, for example, taking it to be regularly serviced.


I’m not sure if I have a valid MOT for my vehicle

If you are concerned that your MOT certificate may be out of date, you may not even know if you have a valid MOT in place for your vehicle. Do not worry, you don’t have to rely on your memory; it is possible to find out whether or not you are due to take your vehicle for its next MOT.

The DVLA have an online service on which you can check if your vehicle has a valid MOT. Simply enter in the registration number, make and model of the vehicle, and you will be able to see whether the vehicle has a valid MOT certificate and, if so when it runs out. The process is easy, and should only take a few minutes.

Alternatively, if you have had the car for more than a year and have previously taken the car for its MOT, you will have been allocated with a VT20 MOT certificate of approval, on which the expiry date will be stated for your reference.


What are the consequences of forgetting your MOT?

What are the consequences of forgetting your MOT?

It is highly important that you stop driving your vehicle as soon as you realise that it does not have a valid MOT. It is illegal to drive a vehicle which has an out of date MOT, so you would be at risk of serious consequences if you do continue to drive it.

It is possible that you will incur a fine up to £1000 on the spot if you are caught driving a vehicle with no valid MOT.

What’s more, not having an MOT certificate can make your insurance invalid, so if you had an accident whilst driving the vehicle without an MOT certificate, your insurance may not cover you or pay out. This could cause serious implications, particularly if your car was in need of serious repairs or was written off due to the accident, and if someone else’s car needed repairing, this would also create problems for you.

I have forgotten my MOT; what should I do?

If you have forgotten your MOT, you need to stop driving your vehicle immediately. It is illegal to carry on driving it and you may incur a fine. Before continuing to drive the vehicle, you will need to take it for its MOT test.

Contact us at In Town Automotive as soon as possible to make an appointment for your MOT test, or alternatively book in online.

The only time you are legally allowed to drive your car without a valid MOT is when you are driving it to the garage. Do not be tempted to drive elsewhere in the car; even if you are just planning to go a short distance you may get caught out, and you will knowingly be acting illegally. What’s more, if you happen to get into an accident whilst driving you may not be covered by your insurance.

Once you have been allocated with a certificate of MOT stating that your car is roadworthy, you will be able to drive the car again freely, and will no longer have to worry about incurring any fines.


How to remember your MOT test

Despite the importance of your MOT test, it can be difficult to keep track of the date to ensure it is done on time. In fact, it was reported in a survey that a third of drivers have admitted to driving a car which does not have a valid MOT. Some of these drivers had even been driving their unchecked vehicles for longer than 6 months. Balancing the rest of your life alongside remembering these important dates can be too difficult to handle, but these deadlines need to be met, so it is important to make sure that you enforce a system which aids you in doing so.

The following tips may help you to remember when your MOT is due so that you never have to risk incurring penalties again:

  • Set a reminder on your phone for the month before so that you have time to book it in before it runs out
  • Write the date it expires in the calendar
  • Make the MOT date a memorable date, for example, the first of a month
  • Take your car for its MOT test at the same time as its car tax is due, or its service is due; that way you can book in for both at the same time
  • Write the MOT date in your yearly calendar
  • Go to the same garage each time your MOT is due and ask for reminders

The dangers of driving without an MOT

The dangers of driving without an MOT

It can be easy to ignore a reminder for your car’s MOT test; kidding yourself that you won’t get caught and you can leave it for another day with no problems. Many people believe that their MOT is unimportant and therefore keep putting it off.

However, the consequences for not having a valid MOT on your vehicle are significant and what’s more, you will be putting yourself and others in danger if you fail to take your car for its test.

Your MOT test involves an inspection of the safety of your car, so without it, you will risking the car being potentially defected. For this reason, having an MOT test will give you peace of mind and you will be able to drive knowing that you will be in full safety.

Figures show that people underestimate the importance of their MOT, with 70% admitting that they left it a week before taking their car to the garage, and several admitted to leaving it up to 6 months.


MOT statistics

Wherever your car is concerned, it is of paramount importance that you ensure it is as safe as possible; however, sometimes it can be very easy to be completely in denial about the seriousness of issues such as your MOT test.

The Department for Transport published research regarding facts and figures about MOT testing, including the following:

  • Vehicle defects are a contributor to 3% of accidents in the UK
  • On average, 40% of vehicles fail their MOT tests
  • As vehicle ages increases, so does the likelihood of MOT test failure, rising to 60% for a vehicle which is 13 years or older
  • As mileage increases, so does likelihood of MOT test failure, for example, 50% of vehicles which have driven 90,000 miles or more fail their MOT test.
  • The greater the distance travelled between MOT tests, the higher the likelihood the vehicle will fail its MOT test.

MOT: the rules

MOT: the rules

When it comes to owning a vehicle, you have a lot on your plate to remember. Insurance, road tax, servicing, and all the regular checks you have to do generally as a vehicle owner such as fluid levels and tyre pressure mount up to result in a very difficult process of having a lot of information to remember. Particularly for those who are new to driving, owning a car is a major responsibility.

For some people, failing to get an MOT test is sometimes due to a genuine unawareness of the rules. Just in case you are not completely aware of the rules regarding MOT testing, the following are all relevant:

  • If your MOT has expired, the only time you are legally allowed to drive your car is when you are taking it to and from the garage.
  • If your MOT has run out and you are stopped by the police on the way to the MOT, you will have to prove that you have an appointment which you are on the way to.
  • If your car fails its MOT, you can only drive it if the last year’s MOT is still valid for example if you took the car to its MOT test earlier in the year this year than last year.
  • If your vehicle fails its MOT test, you will not be able to drive it until the necessary repairs have been made and it has been retested with a positive result.
  • You can take your car for its MOT any time in the 12 month period after it has passed its previous MOT.
  • If your car fails its MOT, the necessary repairs are then made and the retest is completed within a 10 working day period, the retest should be free.
  • Tractors, goods vehicles which run on electricity, motorbikes made before 1960 and vehicle less than 3 years old are exempt from being MOT tested.
  • If you drive your car without a valid MOT test, you could incur a fine of up to £1000.

Contact Us

If you have any questions regarding MOTs in Northampton, the procedure and what is entailed, or if you would like to book in for MOTs Northampton at In Town Automotive, contact us on 01604 666 700, and our professionals will be more than happy to advise you.

8 Car Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

8 Car Maintenance Mistakes to Avoid

Owning a vehicle

Owning a vehicle is a major responsibility and in order to work well and ensure your safety, cars require regular maintenance measures to be carried out. Maintaining your vehicle will also ensure that it has a long life.

Despite the importance of maintaining your car well, life can get in the way sometimes and costs can get in the way, meaning that you may disregard some of your car maintenance obligations from time to time.

Getting regular MOTs and services are always a top priority, but there are other ways you can maintain your vehicle too.

To help you to prioritise what you need to do and plan your maintenance time effectively, we have put together a list of the most common car maintenance mistakes people make and how to avoid them. Read on to find out how you can maintain your car for safer driving.

Not checking tyre pressure

Many people take a quick glance at their tyres and simply assume that they are absolutely fine before driving off. However, on closer inspection, your tyres could actually be low on inflation. They can lose inflation fairly easily just by driving over potholes, and from changes in temperature. If this is the case, you could have poor fuel economy, which will cause you to be spending much more money than you need to. The last thing you want is a flat tyre, so it important to check your tyre pressure regularly. To do this, you will need to check the pressure which is needed via the vehicle handbook or the inside of the door jamb, and head to the nearest petrol station to use the air pump.

Ignoring the engine light

When the check engine light comes on the dashboard, it can be easy to simply ignore it and just speed off without thinking twice. However, the longer you ignore it, the more likely it is that your car will break down without further notice. What’s more, the longer you leave it, the worse the problem is likely to get; it may become dangerous to drive and the problem will get more and more expensive to fix. The engine light is a sign that your car needs some proper attention from a trained mechanic. Ideally, as soon as you see this light, take it to the local garage and get the problem fixed by the professionals.

Not changing the oil

Not changing the oil

Due to the development in mechanics and motor industry technology, there is no need to change your oil as regularly as you once had to. It is no longer necessary to change the oil every 3,000 miles; in fact, you the average car will only require an oil change every 7,800 miles. This is a relief for most car owners, who have to spend less time and money on their vehicle maintenance. However, it can be more difficult to remember when the oil needs changing and the old changes cannot simply be skipped. Without old changes, your vehicle’s engine will seize up and it will break down. Plus, if the oil in there is old, it can start to break down, causing sludge in the engine and damaging the parts.

Not checking fluid

Many vehicle owners wrongly believe that the oil is the only fluid in the car which needs checking; however, there are actually many other fluid levels which need checking, changing and topping up regularly. These checks help your vehicle to stay in good condition and avoids leaks. For full information on your particular vehicle, check the manufacturers’ guidelines. The brake fluid, transmission fluid, engine coolant, and power steering fluid all need checking on a regular basis.

Ignoring an overheating engine

Due to the entire mechanical process of driving, a car’s engine gets incredibly hot when it is running; it requires a cooling down system to avoid it overheating. However, on occasion, these systems do fail, meaning that the car is no longer safe to drive. Many drivers admit to continuing to drive even when their engine is overheating, however, this is not a wise decision at all. If your engine does start to overheat, it is important to turn it off immediately and call for someone to tow the vehicle.

Failing to inspect the brakes

When your brakes start to get worn, it can be easy to ignore the squealing noise they make, sometimes allocating it to another car or part of your car. However, your brakes are one of the most important components of your car to ensure your safety and the safety of other road users when driving. If you do start to hear a squealing or grinding noise and suspect that it may be the brakes, get an inspection as soon as possible from a professional.

Not changing windscreen wipers

Not changing windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers weaken over time as they are used against harsh weather conditions. It can be easy to ignore the problems experienced by poor wiper blades, but chatters, tears and general wear can mean that the wipers leave streaks on the windscreen. You need to ensure that as soon as your visibility is compromised due to worn windscreen wipers, it is time to change them. If you are unsure as to whether or not your wiper blades need changing, check for imperfections in the wipe pattern, a change in effectiveness, marks or splodges on your windscreen, noisy sounds whilst operating, and waring to the rubber.

Not using filters as recommended

Filters stop dirt particles from entering the engine, air conditioning or fuel of your vehicle to prevent problems from occurring. In order to work well, your filters need to be clean. If they are dirty, they can lead to a multitude of problems, for example, poor fuel efficiency, and the system wearing. Have your vehicle filters changed as regularly as necessary and it will prolong the life of your vehicle.


For more information on maintaining your vehicle or if you need professional help to maintain your car, contact us at In Town Automotive. Our professionals will be able to advise you on all your car maintenance questions.

How Often Should I Get a Car Service

How Often Should I Get a Car Serviced?

Car repairs come when we least expect it and it’s always inconvenient. To minimise the impact of break down, it’s really important you keep an eye out for warning signs and get your car serviced at regular intervals.

Warning Signs

Warning Signs

  • The blinking light on dashboard

Possibly one of the most obvious signs that your car gives when it needs servicing. The signs on the dashboard indicate when the engine is not performing up to the required standards. When these lights start blinking it is a clear indication to the driver that issues with the engine must be addressed otherwise they may turn into a major problem.


  • Grinding or SquealingGrinding or Squealing

When you slow down to turn or want to completely stop your vehicle, you may suddenly find that your brakes are grinding and squealing, you should listen closely to this because it is your brakes telling you that they need a bit of TLC. While it could simply be your brake pads that are wearing out, there is a chance that your discs and callipers are facing issues.

It is important to get the brakes serviced as soon as you hear these noises because issues related to brakes can escalate quickly and in the blink of an eye your brakes can go from bad to worse. Problems with brakes can compromise the safety of everyone around you postponing the service of brakes is never a good idea.

Braking technology has improved leaps and bounds over the last few years and they are now designed to be extremely responsive, requiring little effort from the drivers. If you experience any resistance, strange noises or oversensitivity, you need to get your brakes serviced.

  • Smoke Under the Bonnet

Smoke Under the Bonnet

Smoke coming from under the bonnet is similar to your engine screaming at you. Sometimes the smoke could also be accompanied by a burning smell and this could also mean that there is an oil leak. Smoke from under the bonnet could also mean that there is a severe problem with the radiator.

However, if it is coming from the exhaust then there could be oil leaking inside the engine. Leaking is a clear sign that your car needs a tune up. If the sound of your vehicle is exceptionally loud then it could indicate problems with the exhaust and you may need to get your exhaust repaired or replaced.


  • Grinding Gears

The gearbox is a high maintenance component of a vehicle and it needs regular servicing in order to perform efficiently. Fluids, screens and filters also need to be replaced from time to time. However among all the warning signs this is the most vocal. If you have trouble changing gears or hear grinding noises when you shift gears, then it’s time to visit us at In Town and possibly get your clutch replaced.

  • Slow StartSlow Start

If your vehicle acts like it is in desperate need of a coffee to get started, this is a clear indication that there could be problems with the battery. While the vehicle starting with a little hesitation is quite normal from time to time, if the problem is persistent then don’t be fooled into thinking that you could get it checked later.

Batteries are usually inexpensive and problems related to them should be fixed as soon as they are encountered, as they tend to give up on you at the most inconvenient of times.

  • Oil Spots

Oil Spots

An oil spot under the vehicle cannot be overlooked and if there is one, then you need to get your car serviced immediately. Oil is extremely crucial for the engine as it needs lubrication in order to function smoothly. Without oil, the bearings may become dry and the engine is at a risk of seizing and locking up.

  • Abnormal Vibrations

This is the least obvious indication that your car can give you when it needs to be serviced. The progression of these vibrations is quite slow and it often starts with a mild sensation which is easy to miss. It is natural to assume that such vibrations are normal even when the situation has gotten much worse.

There are many reasons why your car could vibrate, such as failing of a universal joint, a loose piece of plastic panelling, loosening of a bearing or worn out or misaligned wheels.

Driving a vehicle on misaligned wheels can be extremely dangerous and it’s advisable to ensure that you get your wheels aligned as soon as possible. So, before the subtle movement of your car becomes an unavoidable shudder you should take your car for a service.


  • Unexpected StallsUnexpected Stalls

The car stalling unexpectedly can be a serious risk while driving and if it happens even when the right gear is in place then it may be time to get your car serviced. There could be many reasons behind the car starting to cut out when you’re pulling off from a junction, but the most common reason behind it is often clogged fuel filters or faulty spark plugs.

How Often Should the Car be Serviced?

In order to keep your vehicle in the best possible condition, it is important to get it serviced every year. This servicing schedule is ideal for those with newer vehicles but for drivers who take out their vehicle more frequently, the car may need to be serviced more regularly.

How Often Should the Car be Serviced?

However, the frequency of servicing also depends on other factors such as the age of vehicle, type of fuel consumed and the distance it has covered in its lifetime. Vehicles that have covered a lot of distance and are quite old should be serviced more often to ensure that they remain in the right condition. Usually the information related to servicing of various components is also specified in the car’s manual.

If you feel your car might be due a service then don’t hesitate to contact us at In Town Automotive to get your car booked in today.

The Essential MOT Checklist

The Essential MOT Checklist

It is compulsory for every vehicle to clear a mechanical and emissions test to ensure that the car is safe to drive and does not cause excess pollution. This test is known as MOT test which has been named after the old Ministry of Transport.MOT

According to regulations, it is compulsory for a vehicle that is more than 3 years old to get an MOT test done every year. In this test, the condition of several essential parts of a car are inspected for safety and a certificate is given upon passing the MOT test that certifies the car as safe to be driven on the roads.

MOT’s can be undertaken only at authorised garages. Before you take your vehicle to such an authorised centre there are certain areas that you can check yourself in order to increase your chances of clearing the test. The following things are generally tested during an MOT:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Registration plate
  • Exhaust system
  • Lights
  • Fuel system
  • Steering and suspension
  • Brakes
  • Wipers and washers
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Windscreen
  • Mirrors
  • Horn
  • Doors
  • Seatbelts and seats

What happens if your car fails its MOT?

During the MOT test, if a problem is found with any of the above checklist then your car will fail its MOT test and you will be given a VT30 certificate that will contain details of things that you need to rectify in your car. Another test will be scheduled and this time it will be a partial test in which the areas that were highlighted in the previous test are inspected.

The Essential MOT Checklist

  • LightsLights

Fact: As many as 30% of MOT failures are due to improper lighting.

For a car to be safe on the roads, functional lighting is crucial. Before taking your vehicle for an MOT test it is important that you check whether the front and rear lights are operating without any problems. Also, check that hazard lights, dipped lights, indicators, headlights and full beam lights are also operational.

Along with the lights being fully operational, it is also mandatory that they display the right colour according to their function. This makes it necessary for you to check if any colour coatings have peeled away. You may need to get a friend’s help or park against a reflective surface to confirm that there is no problem with lighting.

Registration plate lights, brake lights, fog lights, front and rear lights, indicators and rear reflectors must:

  • Illuminate with a single operation of the switch
  • Be in good condition
  • Not be obscured
  • Not be adversely affected by the operation of any other light
  • Show the correct colour
  • Be correctly positioned and secure


  • Car Exterior

Car ExteriorDuring the MOT test, a general inspection is carried out of the chassis, seats, doors, body and engine mountings. They should not be heavily corroded and there shouldn’t be any sharp edges which could potentially cause injury.

There should not be any visible damage to the registration plate that could make it difficult to read. The registration plate should be firmly fitted at the rear and front of a car. A person standing at a distance of 20 metres should be able to see the number clearly.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be displayed permanently either on a VIN plate attached to the vehicle or etched on the chassis or body of vehicle.

  • Emissions, exhausts and fuelEmissions, exhausts and fuel

The exhaust system is thoroughly inspected in an MOT test to ensure that it does not leak and that it is absolutely secure.

The tank cap should be able to seal properly and the system is checked for possible leaks.

A fuel analyser probe is used to test the smoke that is emitted from the exhaust while the engine is running. Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions must not exceed the legal limit.

  • Under the Bonnet

Under the BonnetThe battery should not show any visible damage that can cause leakage of electrolytes.




  • InteriorInterior

The horn should be loud enough so that it can be heard by another vehicle on the road and it should emit a continuous uniform note.

It is also important to inspect the car seats before the MOT test to ensure that they are in the correct positions. The seat belts too should be fully functional.

  • Tyres

TyresFact: 10% of MOT failures are due to tyres.

Before your car’s MOT test, you should get your tyre pressure checked. The ideal tyre pressure for your vehicle is specified on the doorjamb.

The most important thing checked in an MOT test related to tyres is the tread depth. It should not be below the limit of 1.6mm and should be consistent through at least 75% of the tyre surface. The tyres should be in a proper condition and if they have been through a lot of wear and tear then it is advisable to get your tyres changed before the test.

  • WindscreensWindscreens

Fact: 6.6% of MOT failures are due to issues related to mirrors, wipers and windscreens.

There should not be damage or anything that could potentially distract the attention of the driver on the road. Obstructions directly in the drivers view should not be larger than 10mm and those outside the view, but within the sweep area of wipers, should not be larger than 40mm.

The driver should not have difficulties in seeing objects at the side or rear of the vehicle. The wing mirrors and rear view mirrors should not have suffered any damage that blocks the driver’s view. Along with mirrors, the washers and wipers should be functional and sweep a wide enough area to give clarity to the driver about the road ahead in rough weather. The washer jets should not be obstructed and any blockage should be removed before the MOT test.

  • Brakes

BrakesFact: 9.6% of MOT failures are due to issues with the braking system

Needless to say, brakes are extremely important in any vehicle and they should be in the right condition before taking your vehicle for the MOT test. In the test the pedals, brakes and levers are inspected and a test is conducted to test the efficiency of braking system.

The above requirements are not only important from the MOT test perspective but also a necessary level of maintenance that ensures your safety when you’re out on the roads. To increase your chances of clearing the test you should either get your car serviced or take your vehicle to a garage that can conduct this test for you and rectify any possible problems that can show up during the test.

Don't Forget Your MOT

Don’t Forget Your MOT


To check that your car is roadworthy you need to figure out your MOT due date. Getting an MOT done can turn out to be very stressful for car owners as several things have to be considered; right from sourcing a reliable test station to fretting over the cost of repairs that will be needed.

As far as a reliable test station is concerned, there is no other option other than In Town Automotive for your MOT.


The new number plates come out in the month of March every year, so March and April are popular times to book an MOT. Getting an MOT is a legal requirement and it is essential that you know that missing the expiry date can be potentially dangerous.

Making sure that your vehicle is functioning properly is crucial and there are few checks that you can do to maintain the health of your car and that will make your pass your MOT with flying colours.

The first thing that you need to do is find out the due date of your MOT and this can be done very easily by checking out the government’s MOT status page. Just punch in your registration number and the online tool available on the website will give you your MOT due date.

MOT Due Date for a New Car

You are legally obligated to get an MOT done annually, once it is three years old, so if your car hasn’t yet crossed the three year threshold – it does not require an MOT. As soon as your car reaches its third-year registration birthday, you will need to get an MOT.

The due date can be worked out simply by looking in the vehicle registration document. For instance, if your car was registered on March 10, 2014 then your MOT due date will be March 10, 2017.

nissan micra

However, we at In Town Automotive would suggest that you should get an MOT done before the exact MOT due date. That way, if your car fails the test you still have time to get the necessary repairs done before the expiry date actually arrives.

So, don’t delay schedule an appointment with us for peace of mind and one less thing on your plate.