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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.

The Complete Guide to Maintaining your Rented Car

The Complete Guide to Maintaining your Rented Car

When you rent a car, be it on holiday or otherwise, it can be a daunting task to keep it looking pristine for when it is time to take it back to the garage. The deposit you put down on the car is sometimes hefty, and you don’t want to incur any unwanted fines for damage.

Instead of spending the last few days of renting the car worrying about taking it back, follow the next few easy steps and return the car looking brand spanking new!

Check the car before you drive it off

Check the car before you drive it off

One of the most important procedures to take before you even set off in your rented car is to check it thoroughly for any signs of damage. This includes scratches, scuffs, dents, and any damage to the interior too. It is especially important to take note if the car is at all dirty because any dirt from the road could cause you to be unable to see any scratches which are currently on the car before you drive it away.

Once you have checked for any damage, make sure to make a personal note of everything you have found, and also ask for the rent shop to do the same. This will ensure that you cannot be blamed for any damage which was already on the car before you rented it.

Checking the car for any even slight damage is extremely important so that you don’t incur any fines which aren’t your fault. This way, you won’t be worried about any existing damages and whether or not you could be caught out by them.

Check your safety

As well as checking the car for any existing damage, it is also important to check for any signs that the car might not be safe to drive. This includes looking at the dashboard for any warning lights and checking the oil level.

The car should have already been serviced and checked for any hazards, but it is best to make sure for yourself as much as possible before you drive it off.

Before whizzing away in your rented car, you should also make sure that the car is set exactly how your own would be, in terms of seat positioning of the driver’s seat, and the positioning of the mirrors. These are all factors which will increase the safety of your driving when you’re out and about.

Drive carefully

Drive carefully

This one goes without saying, but driving carefully is equally as important in a rented car as it would be in your own car. This is because the insurance policy will work in the same way, and you could find yourself having to pay out a lot of money if anything goes wrong. On top of that, you could also be asked to pay out for any repairs to damage which is caused when you are in possession of the car.

When you are in a car different to the one you are used to, it is easy to misjudge spaces and the size of the rented car, so it is highly important to pay particular attention to your surroundings, especially when you’re reversing and driving in tight spaces such as one-way streets.

It may also take some time to get used to the clutch, gears and other controls in the rented car, so you will have to allow for time to adjust by slowing down your speed. It is also important to pay attention to the speed limits and abide by them.

Many people choose to rent a car for a holiday in a foreign country, and this is another consideration for when you are driving the rented car. You will need to consider the speed limits, potentially having to drive on the opposite side of the road, and the layout of the car being opposite to what you are used to. For this reason, it is best to drive slowly at first whilst you are getting used to the car, and to make sure you know where you are going in terms of directions too.

Refrain from eating and drinking in the car

You may well be used to eating and drinking during long journeys in your own car, or when you are at a standstill, but in a rented car, you will need to refrain from doing so, as you could incur fines from a dirty or stained interior. This is particularly relevant if the seats in the rented car are fabric, as opposed to leather which is easier to clean.

It is also advisable to refrain from other activities which you may well usually do in your car, whether at a standstill or whilst driving. Painting your nails, smoking, storing junk and rubbish in your car, and doing your make up are all things you should avoid in a rented car.

If you do happen to make a mess in the rented car, it is important to try and clear up the mess as effectively as possible so that you don’t have to pay a charge for cleaning it.

Take pictures on final inspection

Last but not least, it is important to make sure you get a fair deal on your return of the rented car. More and more often, the procedure to return your car is much like checking out of a hotel where you simply leave your keys and walk out. It can even be the case that an employee does not even check over the car when you leave it.

If this is the case, you could potentially come to a dispute if any damage is recorded on the car after you have dropped it off and you believe it was not your fault. For this reason, it is important to take pictures, or even a video of the car at the rent shop before you leave so that you have proof to show that the car was in good condition when it was returned.


If you need any further advice on caring for a car, rented or otherwise, contact us at In Town Automotive and our professionals will be able to help you.

Five Sure-Fire Signs Your Clutch Needs to Be Replaced

Sure-fire Signs Your Clutch Needs to Be Replaced

Needless to say, the clutch is an extremely important part of a transmission system. It is required each time the driver wishes to shift gears, stop the vehicle without killing the engine or bring the vehicle to a halt slowly without a jerk. There are many mechanical components in a clutch and due to the complex assembly of these components, the clutch experiences a lot of wear and tear. So, the clutch should be maintained properly and kept in a perfect condition to ensure that the vehicle operates smoothly.

What does clutch do?

The clutch happens to be the most frequently used mechanical component in a vehicle. It is responsible for transferring power from the engine of a vehicle to its transmission system through a complex mechanism. When operated, the clutch brings about synchronisation between the transmission system and the engine in a manual transmission vehicle.

When the foot is taken off the clutch pedal it creates a pressure which operates the hydraulic mechanism connecting to the engine’s flywheel and transmits this motion to the wheels. Basically, the clutch connects two shafts and locks them in a manner that they both spin at the same speed. The clutch makes it possible to stop a car without stalling the engine.

Tips to maintain Clutch Health

Tips to maintain Clutch Health

While the wear and tear of a clutch is unavoidable there are things you can do to prolong the life of a clutch and delay the moment when it has to be replaced. Here are a few tips to take good care of your clutch system:

  • Avoid riding the clutch

This is a term most commonly used by driving instructors and it refers to the habit of keeping the clutch pedal slightly pressed at all times even when it is not required. Keeping the clutch pedal slightly pressed pushes the pressure pad against the clutch plate but this pressure is not enough to engage it completely.

This increases the friction and results in more wearing out of the clutch. Hence while driving one should keep their feet away from the clutch pedal and should be pressed only when one has to shift gears. The next time you slow down for traffic lights or turn around the corners with a semi-pressed clutch you should think about the damage you’re causing to the clutch plate.

  • Put the car in neutral when stoppedPut the car in neutral when stopped

If you are waiting at traffic lights with the first gear engaged, the clutch pedal pressed and your foot on the brake then you are putting unnecessary strain on the clutch. In such situations you should put your car in neutral if you intend to stop for a longer duration of time and make use of the handbrake to prevent the car from moving.

  • Quick change of gears

Another practice that often leads to wear and tear of the clutch is lingering when changing gears. This is especially true in the case of those who are still learning how to drive the car. The reason behind this is that the longer the clutch pedal is pressed down, the more strain is applied on the clutch. You may wonder that changing gears slowly only means an extra few seconds on the pedal but when you take an entire driving session into consideration, these extra few seconds may cumulatively turn into minutes which is quite harmful for the clutch.

  • Use the handbrake more often

Use the handbrake more often

Leaving a car with a gear engaged is like a death blow to the clutch even if you have turned off the engine. When possible, the handbrake should be used to keep the car stationary or parked instead of leaving the vehicle in gear. Doing this will ensure that less pressure is exerted on the clutch disc and hence delay the process of wearing out of clutch.


Signs that your clutch is wearing out

In an ideal situation, where there is little traffic and the driving conditions are problem-free, modern clutches should last and there will be no need to replace them for many years. However, the number of vehicles on roads in any region is rising exponentially and the roads are not always kind to the transmission systems of vehicles.

  • Slipping

When a clutch nears the end of its life it may begin to slip, which means that the clutch fails to engage or disengage even when the clutch pedal is completely depressed. The RPM of the engine may increase unnecessarily and the car will not be able to go any faster. This phenomenon will be much more noticeable when the vehicle is climbing uphill, overtaking another vehicle or pulling heavy loads. A slipping clutch can further deteriorate the condition of a clutch and result in additional wear and tear due to overheating.

In order to clearly define clutch slipping you should start your car, depress the clutch pedal and engage the gear directly into a higher gear such as the third or fifth gear. The car getting stalled is a positive sign that indicates that the clutch is working fine but if the RPM keeps rising higher and higher, then you should consider replacing the clutch.

  • Trouble in Shifting GearsTrouble in Shifting Gears

Suppose you have depressed the clutch pedal completely and still the gear does not click, this is a clear sign that the clutch is worn out. When the clutch gets worn out there could be some shuddering of the gear stick. The gear will shift from neutral into another gear after a lot of difficulty and you may have to push really hard. It could also be due to other reasons such as faulty clutch parts like the fork or failure of cylinder. However, in order to understand the actual reason behind the clutch not working properly, you should contact professionals who specialise in these services.

  • Soft Clutch

One of the first signs of a clutch wearing out is a spongy clutch. When the clutch begins to feel soft and spongy, this means the clutch is wearing out. The clutch pedal has to be let out in order to put the car into gear successfully.

Another give-away of a clutch in poor condition is the shuddering of the clutch pedal. When the shuddering becomes prominent at low speeds it could be a sign that the clutch plate has impurities like sludge and oil and that the clutch plate is wearing out and needs to be addressed.

In any of the above cases a visit to the workshop is crucial and should not be delayed.

  • Burning Smell

Identifying problems on a car may require you to engage all of your senses and out of the five, the sense of smell is one of the most important. If you can sense a burning smell when you shift your gears then it could be an indication that your clutch needs to be replaced. A burning smell is often a clear indication of a clutch that is slipping. When the friction material on the clutch disc is flattened due to wear and tear, this distinctive smell is created. However, if the burning smell is due to worn out tyres then you should consider getting your tyres replaced.

As the disc and flBurning Smellywheel are in constant touch, there are higher chances of wear and tear and this naturally leads to a slipping clutch. When the flywheel and clutch spin at different speeds then there is a possibility that the wear and tear of the clutch increases. A rattling sound heard when the clutch is not in use is also an omen of a worn out clutch. This sound increases when the clutch is engaged.

  • Faulty Cylinders

Sometimes the reason behind problems of a clutch may not be the clutch plate but the many mechanical components that are present in a clutch system. The problem could also be due to cylinders, bearings and the fork. To ensure smooth functioning of a clutch these parts should be in the right working condition.

Sometimes the problems can also be solved by adjusting the cable linkage in a clutch system that employs direct linkage. Another possibility is leakage of the master and slave cylinders in a hydraulic clutch system. When problems are experienced due to the fault of these components then they must be replaced in order to rectify the problems.

  • Grinding Noise

A distinctive grinding noise emanating from the engine when the clutch pedal is depressed is another major sign that the clutch has worn out and needs replacing. You’re lucky if the sound is not due to a worn out clutch but due to faulty bearings, as replacing these bearings is much less expensive compared to replacing the clutch pad. However, one shouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of such problems and overlook it because it can lead to bigger problems such as further damage.

  • Visible Damage

A poor clutch can cause many problems, some of which can even be dangerous. At the initial signs of a clutch wearing out it should be brought to the notice of a professional mechanic. If you are facing similar issues then you shouldn’t wait for the problem to get out of hand and immediately get your car serviced. These problems arise due to mechanical wear and tear and hence there is no possibility of the problems disappearing on their own.

In order to get the problem diagnosed and solved, you should contact us at In Town Automotive as we specialise in clutch repairs.