Millions of motorists have been warned not to forget their car’s MOT due date after new figures revealed more than 5 million cars were driven without an MOT.

Of those 5.2 million cars, more than 360,000 were presented for a new MOT more than a year after their old test had expired.

That’s according to new research, conducted by Select Car Leasing, into the annual UK vehicle check-up.  

An MOT ensures that vehicles meet safety and environmental standards. Road laws about MOTs are strict, and drivers can face fines and prosecutions for failing to have an MOT for their vehicle.

All vehicles are required to get an MOT three years after its registration date and thereafter on the anniversary of the MOT every year.

There is a common misconception that there is a grace period for getting an MOT after the previous one has expired, but this isn’t correct. 

Motorists cannot drive or park their vehicles on the road if the MOT has run out. The only exception to this is if you’re driving to or from getting the car repaired, or to a pre-arranged MOT test.  Failure to follow these rules could result in a £1,000 fine.

Graham Conway, Managing Director at Select Car Leasing, said that data from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) illustrates the ‘truly shocking’ number of vehicles presented for an MOT long after the expiry date.

The FOI data reveals that over 5.2 million vehicles were presented for an MOT at least 15 days after the previous test had expired.

More than 1.5 million of these vehicles were presented for an MOT test 15 to 31 days after the test had expired.

While 1.9 million vehicles were presented one to three months after the previous MOT had expired. 

Mr Conway said: “MOTs are essential for ensuring that cars on the road are safe and roadworthy. Common reasons for failing an MOT include issues with lights and signals, suspension and brakes. Not presenting a vehicle for an MOT on time might mean that crucial safety concerns are overlooked.

“And the stats we’ve uncovered illustrate the truly shocking nature of lapsed MOTs.

“It could well be an indication that drivers have simply forgotten the MOT test date, and then present their vehicles at a testing station as soon as they can. Other drivers may have let MOTs lapse simply because they couldn’t afford the cost of the test – and repairs – in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis.

“Either scenario paints a worrying picture. It’s essential all motorists heed their MOT test date in order to protect themselves and other road users. If in doubt, you can always sign up to the Government’s MOT reminder service, which alerts you about the impending test date via text message or email.”

In some cases, these vehicles might have been SORNed. This is the Statutory Off Road Notification and the owner of the vehicle is legally required to notify the DVLA that a vehicle is no longer being used on the road and is therefore no longer required to pay road tax.

Conway added, “While both an MOT and a SORN are legal requirements, the MOT is the test that ensures that the vehicle is roadworthy. In some cases, vehicles presented for their MOT long after it has expired, might have been SORNed for a period.

“While SORNed vehicles may account for some of these vehicles being presented for an MOT so long after the expiry date, it is still frightening to consider that a large number of motorists may have continued to drive without a valid MOT.”