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Could forgetfulness cost you your car?

Carlton Boyce / 11 August 2016 ( 17 May 2018 )

Without the visual reminder of a tax disc, more people are forgetting their annual car responsibilities - but doing so could cost you your car.

You can organise your computer calendar to send you an alert when your MOT is due

Forgetting your MOT

Research by cap hpi reveals that 70% of motorists are confused as to when their car’s MOT is due, following changes to the system for taxing your car that mean we are no longer required to display a tax disc in the windscreen.

The problem is that many motorists used to synchronise their car’s road tax, car insurance renewal, and MOT to coincide – but many are simply forgetting to MOT their car now they no longer have the visual road tax reminder to prompt them to get it done.

Philip Nothard, consumer and retail editor for cap hpi said: “Our research proves that without the tax disk as a reminder, it’s easy for motorists to let the MOT renewal date slip, posing a danger to themselves and other road users.”

Changes to the MOT from May 20, 2018 mean more rigorous emissions checks for diesel cars (a good guide is that if your diesel car emits smoke from the exhaust, it's not going to pass its MOT), as well as new pass and fail categories that are intended to make your MOT result easier to understand.

Find out more on the new MOT changes and in the meantime, make sure you book your MOT in with plenty of time, as if you're caught driving without an MOT you can get fined £1,000 - and if you're driving a car with 'dangerous' defects the fine can rocket to £2,500 and three penalty points.

Forgetting your car insurance

The problem extends to car insurance too. While the number of uninsured vehicles on UK roads might have dropped from 1.4 million in 2010 to 1 million currently, police used the provisions of Section 165A of the Road Traffic Act 1988 to seize 135,000 uninsured cars in 2013.

Edmund King OBE, AA president said: “While some drivers clearly disregard the law, there are a number of drivers who inadvertently forget to renew their insurance and vehicle excise duty due to the rise of paperless systems.’

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The solution

The solutions are many and varied and depend on your willingness to embrace technology. Here are my four favourite ways to make sure that you never forget!


Synchronise your car’s MOT, road tax and insurance as before. It might seem like a bit of a waste to get an MOT on your car before it’s due, but having all three timed to coincide will give you prompts from both your local garage and car insurer to help you to remember to get them all sorted.

Avoid getting ripped off by a garage

Set your own reminders

If you don’t want to rely on other people, you can also set reminders on your computer’s calendar for all three events.

The car insurance and tax reminders are simple but I set the one for the MOT to alert me six weeks before it expires. This gives me two weeks to get it booked in; if it passes I then have a 13-month MOT certificate (the maximum possible) and if it fails I’ve built in a month’s grace to get the necessary repairs done.

6 ways to beat MOT stress

Accept help from the government

The government also has a free online MOT reminder service. The service, called When is my MOT due? is available as a website or an iOS app. It can be used to set up a reminder, find a local MOT station, or even to run an MOT check on a car you are thinking of buying.

Go online

Finally, you could do what I’ve done and use an online service like Patina. I’ve set my car’s tax, insurance and MOT dates in there and receive automatic reminders from them. Doing this gives me a safety net in addition to the other methods and I haven’t forgotten to do them – yet!

Next article: Changes to the car tax system in 2017 >>>

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.