The DVSA has urged drivers to check their vehicles before taking to the roads this Christmas.
Figures have reportedly shown almost 50,000 cars were late for their MOT test last December which were classified as dangerous.
DVSA statistics further revealed that in December 2018 of the 1.5 million cars tested, 385,859 had a late MOT and were driven illegally. 49,588 of those tested late then failed as a result of a dangerous defect, such as bald tyres or broken headlights.
With up to 3 million extra car journeys each day in the lead up to Christmas, the DVSA has urged drivers to carry out five simple road safety checks on tyres, lights, brakes and windscreens and make sure the car has an up to date MOT. They have also produced a new seasonal film about the five checks.
Chris Price, DVSA’s Head of MOT Policy, said: “DVSA’s priority is helping everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive.
“It’s easy to forget your car’s MOT amid the hustle and bustle and seasonal cheer, but making sure your car is safe before you set off is crucial.
“Carrying out five simple checks and making sure your car has a valid MOT will help you and your family have a happy Christmas and will help us keep everyone safe on Britain’s roads.”
The figures showed that of all vehicles late for an MOT, three quarters were because car owners forgot it was due. The DVSA’s MOT Reminder service has been designed to take away the hassle of having to remember when the MOT is due.
Drivers can also check whether the car has a valid MOT using DVSA’s free MOT History service. They should also ensure the vehicle is properly taxed and insured.
DVSA’s five simple car safety checks:
1. Check your brakes
Brakes need to work properly as they are fundamental to your safety when driving a vehicle.
You can test the brake pedal each time you drive the car. If it feels different, the brakes make a noise or if the vehicle pulls to one side, you must contact your local garage as soon as possible.
2. Check your lights
Your headlights, sidelights, indicator and brake lights all need to be working and clean.
Turn on all the lights and walk around the car. Give them a tap to check they’re not loose or damaged and check the colours are correct and match. Your car manual will explain how to change a bulb, or your garage can do this.
You can test brake lights by reversing up to a garage door or window and pressing the brake. Look for a reflection in the rearview mirror. You should check your lights once a week and before a long journey.
3. Check your tyre tread
The legal tyre tread depth for cars is 1.6mm (this is different for motorcycles) and the condition of your tyres is key to your safety. This is especially important when roads are wet and icy.
Turn the steering wheel fully to the left or right. Look for the treadwear indicators which are at the bottom of the tyre grooves. If they are flush with the level of the tread, you need to replace the tyre.
Another good rule of thumb is the 20p test. Insert a 20p coin into the groove on the tyre. If the tread covers the outer band of the coin the tyre depth is legal. Check the tread depth is even across the tyre. Tyre tread needs to be checked once a month and before a long journey.
4. Check your tyre pressure
Tyres need to be correctly inflated, without any cuts or bulges. Correctly inflated tyres reduce the risk of accidents, will last longer and will save you money on fuel.
Your car manual will tell you the right pressure for your tyres. Most petrol stations and garages will have a pressure gauge and air pump, so check when you fill up. At the same time look out for bulges and cuts. You should check your tyre pressure once a month and before a long journey.
5. Check your windscreen wash and washers
Windscreen washer fluid helps to keep your windscreen clean. You need to check fluid is topped up and the windscreen wipers work, without streaking water. When the engine is cold, lift the bonnet, check the windscreen washer bottle and top up if necessary. Using washer fluid will help prevent the washers freezing in winter.
Check the windscreen wiper blade by sight for wear and tear. Your car manual will tell you how to change the windscreen wiper blade or your garage can do this. You should check the windscreen wash and washer once a month and before a long journey.