Clarification on MOT extension offers little comfort to Wigan garage owner

Some car garages have decided to close. Photo: Quest Classic Car Restoration

A garage owner in Wigan is still worried for his business, despite the government clarifying recent MOT extension advice.

Last week the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency announced six-month extensions for the annual tests on cars with a ticket expiring after 30th March in a bid to reduce the need to visit a test centre during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Some cars still require testing, and the DVSA clarified, when asked by UCLan Live, that cars currently on a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) need testing, along with any car which failed a test before Monday’s deadline.

Garages are among businesses allowed to stay open, but Phil Knowles at Pemberton MOT Centre admits he is feeling the strain after losing most of his revenue from testing cars.

“It’s wiped out 70 per cent of my business,” he said.

“People in isolation don’t need cars on the road. I’ve put three staff on furlough and I’m wondering if it will ever come up.

“The majority aren’t using their cars and it’s wiping out the industry, but I can see why they’ve done it.”

Despite acknowledging the government’s position, Mr Knowles thinks a different approach could have been beneficial to businesses. 

“It’s a catch-22 but personally I think a three-month extension with a review would have perhaps been more bearable,” he suggested.

“It’s going to put a lot out of work and many will never open again.”

Commenting on the situation, a DVSA spokesperson told UCLan Live: “All vehicles with an MOT due up to and including 29th March 2020 will require an MOT in order to be driven legally.

“Vehicles with an MOT due on or after 30 March 2020 will get an automatic six month extension to their test due date.

“MOT testing will not stop from 30th March. MOT tests beyond this date would include; Vehicles that failed their MOT prior to 30th March 2020 that will need to be retested before they can be used, vehicles which were due a test before 30 March that have not yet been tested, vehicles whose MOT is due on or after 30 March, whose owner would like to ensure it is safe to drive and a vehicle that has been SORNed and needs an MOT – in the same way as any other vehicle whose MOT expired prior to the 30th March.”

On what might happen once exemptions are stopped at the end of the coronavirus pandemic, the DVSA said: “Obviously these are early days. We will continue to follow the best advice available and announce how we’ll transition to normal service when the time is right.”

Other garages, however, are closing temporarily. 

Quest Classic Car Restoration specialises in vehicles which are not usually used every day and for essential travel.

On deciding to halt work, they issued a statement to customers.

It read: “In order to play our part, and protect our customers, staff and community we have elected to temporarily halt operations.

“Rest assured both our team and ourselves are already eager to reopen and continue operations once we are clear to do so.”

The company, which has been running since 1979, is using the shutdown to develop a new website and give the staff what it called a “well-earned, but brief rest.”