Almost half of drivers believe an MOT is a guarantee their car will be safe to drive for the next 12 months.
A valid MOT certificate only confirms that a car has met the minimum standard of roadworthiness at the moment the test was completed.
But 47 per cent assume that if it has passed an MOT, they don’t need to worry about getting anything checked for another year.
And the study of 2,000 drivers also found that 42 per cent shun servicing their vehicle and rely on the MOT as the only annual check.
Londoners are the biggest culprits, with 65 per cent admitting the MOT is their car’s only annual check, compared to 30 per cent of Scots.
Aaron Edwards, MOT category manager at Halfords Autocentres, which commissioned the research to coincide with one of the busiest months for MOTs, said: “An MOT is only a certificate to say the car is safe to drive the moment it has been tested, so it is concerning that so many motorists treat it as a service.
“It is not a guarantee that the car is in good running order six months down the line, and it is vital that motorists carry out regular checks as well as an annual service.
“Good car maintenance is important for safety purposes as well as the car’s performance.”
The study also found 38 per cent of motorists think their car’s brakes are fine because it has passed an MOT.
But one third of cars failed their MOT last year, with broken lights the most common reason for failure, something that could be identified by a simple check.
Issues with the suspension and brakes were the second and third most common cause for failure.
And tyres with less than the minimum legal tread are the fourth biggest reason cars fail their MOT – with one in 10 failures down to the tyres not being up to scratch.
This might be partly because just 26 per cent of motorists polled knew the minimum legal tyre tread is 1.6mm.
Worryingly, the study, carried out via OnePoll, found 11 per cent of motorists aren’t sure when their car’s MOT is – potentially risking a fine of up to £1,000 while also invalidating their insurance if their MOT has expired.
Halfords Autocentres has published a list of tips to boost the chances of their car passing its MOT first time.