If a car is labelled dangerous under the new scoring system, it will be illegal to use it on a public road, with fines running into thousands of pounds if you so much as drive it to the scrapyard.
The new rules are aimed at improving air quality and making the roads safer, but with more than one in three cars already failing their MOT, this could be a testing year for many.
The MOT test is always an anxious time for motorists, but as of today there is even more to worry about.
New cars are due their first annual MOT test after three years and a record 2.6 million motors fall into that category this year, because of strong sales in 2015.
Last year, 35.4 per cent failed their initial test, with defective lighting and signalling, suspension and tyres the most common faults.
This could rise as cars now face stricter checks for items including reversing lights, brake pads and fluids, and tyres and bumpers, while diesel cars face tough scrutiny for emissions.
Instead of a simple pass or fail, there are now two failure categories: dangerous and major.
Owners face a £2,500 fine, driving ban and three points if they so much as drive a “dangerous” car to another garage for repairs or a scrapyard.
There are three pass levels: minor, where problems should be repaired as soon as possible; advisory, where problems should be monitored and repaired if necessary; and pass, where the car meets the minimum legal standard.
Matt Oliver, GoCompare Car Insurance spokesman, said the fine for not having a valid MOT is £1,000 and you could also be prosecuted for driving the vehicle: “The only exception is if you had booked an MOT and were driving to the test, but you would have to prove this to the police.”
You have also breached the terms of your insurance policy.
“Offenders involved in an accident would be liable for any costs and could struggle to get affordable insurance at renewal,” Oliver added.
He urged drivers to sign up for the free “Get MOT reminder” service at Gov.uk/mot-reminder.
Around 1.8 million cars a year are scrapped, but the numbers could now accelerate.
Rebecca Currier, spokesperson for scrap recycling network CarTakeBack.com, said use a reputable company if disposing of your old car: “Official scrap car recycling centres known as Authorised Treatment Facilities (ATFs) recycle cars responsibly and meet the 95 per cent recycling target set by the Government.”
Only ATFs can issue a Certificate of Destruction (CoD), which is proof the car has been disposed of correctly.
Without the correct paperwork the DVLA will assume the vehicle is still in your possession and continue to send demands for road tax, plus an £80 fine if not paid.
Beware dodgy dealers offering cash for your scrap car, now illegal in England, Wales and Scotland, often with fraudulent certificates.
“Any payment should be made by made by cheque or bank transfer,” she said.
A quick search online should help you find car recycling centres, often with a quote for collecting and scrapping your car.
She added: “Prices change, but we currently pay around £100 for a medium- sized car including collection, more if there are any reusable parts.”
Young drivers should be encouraged to remember their MOT, as research from Co-op Insurance shows two fifths would be tempted to put theirs off.
Many are deterred by the cost, but head of motor insurance Nick Ansley said: “Servicing a vehicle should be a priority to ensure your car is safe for you, your passengers and fellow road users.”
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