By law, cars over 3 years old must pass a yearly MOT test to show that they are safe to be on the roads.
MOT tests are carried out at authorised test centres around the country. Each MOT test centre will display an official blue sign with three white triangles to indicate that they are authorised.
The MOT test constitutes a series of checks on your car, such as checking the breaks, fuel system, lights, mirrors, seatbelts, windscreen wipers and exhaust system.
We have put together this useful MOT guide to help you understand how the MOT test works and how to get one. We will cover everything from when your MOT runs out, how long an MOT test takes, how much an MOT costs and what to do if you fail your MOT, as well as so much more.
So, go ahead and find out everything you need to know about getting an MOT test on your car.
A valid MOT test is required to ensure that your car meets the minimum safety standards to make it road-worthy.
There are a range of different tests and checks carried out on your car during an MOT. These include:
If your car needs work to get it up to the necessary standards to make it road-worthy, there may be parts to order or an additional appointment needed to complete the repairs or replacements.
Your MOT will run out at midnight on the date of your MOT expiry. You can find out when your MOT runs out by looking on your MOT certificate.
You are entitled to have your car MOT within one month of the expiry date stated on your certificate. This means there shouldn’t be a last-minute panic to book your MOT in. This one month grace period gives you plenty of time to get everything sorted before your MOT due date.
Nevertheless, booking your MOT test as early as possible is always a good idea and there is no reason to leave your test until last-minute.
An average MOT test takes between 45 and 60 minutes, but this can depend on a number of factors.
First, if your car fails it’s MOT then it will need repairs which will take a lot longer. A test centre isn’t allowed to let you drive a car away that has failed an MOT until the problems are fixed.
Second, even if there aren’t any repairs, the MOT test centre you take it to might have a queue of other jobs before they get a chance to take a look at your vehicle. Thus, while the test might take less than an hour, it may need to be at the garage for much longer.
In fact, test centres can ask you to drop your car off first thing in the morning and collect it when ready. Therefore, you should be prepared to be without your vehicle for the whole day.
So, given that an MOT is a legal requirement for most motorists, how much can you expect to be spending on the MOT test?
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency sets the maximum fee that authorised MOT test centres can charge for an MOT.
Currently, it’s £54.85 for cars and motor caravans and £29.65 for motorbikes. However, most garages charge less than this.
An MOT might also be included in the cost of a full service for your car. Yet, a service, even if it includes an MOT, is likely to be more expensive than an MOT on its own.
If your MOT has expired, it is illegal to drive your car on the road and you could be prosecuted for doing so.
Driving without a valid MOT also makes your car insurance invalid, which means you might not be covered if you were to have an accident.
The only exception where you would be allowed to drive without an MOT would be if you already had an MOT test booked and were driving your car to the test centre.
Everyone knows that car tax, an MOT and insurance are legal requirements for car owners, but what if you forget to MOT your car but need to renew your car tax?
When taxing your vehicle online, it will be automatically checked to ensure that it has a valid MOT certification. If you don’t, you won’t be able to purchase your car tax.
Similarly, if you choose to purchase your vehicle tax in person, you can take your MOT certificate and V11 reminder to tax your car at some Post Offices. However, once again, they won’t let you purchase car tax unless you can show a valid MOT certificate.
When you receive your V11 vehicle tax reminder through the post, it is helpful to check when your car’s next MOT is due. This will help you make sure you have an up-to-date MOT when the time comes to renew your vehicle tax.
An MOT is valid for one year and your MOT due date will be printed on your current pass certificate.
The earliest you can MOT your vehicle is up to one month before your current MOT certificate expires.
You should note, however, that if you MOT your car early and it fails, you won’t be able to drive that car – even though you still have an MOT certificate that hasn’t reached its expiry date yet.
Vehicle registration logbook? Tax disc? Vehicle insurance certificate? Driving licence? Proof of address? Service History?
Which documents do you actually need for an MOT?
The answer: none.
All approved MOT testing centres can now access the necessary documentation online thanks to a recent Government scheme. However, you should ensure that all your details are correct. For example, if you’re recently moved home, it is a good idea to double check that you’ve completed your DVLA change of address.
So, all you have to do on the day of your MOT test is get yourself and your car to the test centre and wait.
If you lose your MOT certificate, there’s no need to worry. You won’t need to have a whole new MOT test or pay for a new one.
To get a replacement MOT certificate all you need to do is:
Although a valid MOT is required by law for most cars to enable them to have valid insurance and to purchase vehicle tax, there are a few exceptions to this rule.
The first exception to the MOT rules are brand new cars. In most cases, new cars do not require an MOT test until they are three years old.
Some older vehicles are also exempt from needing an annual MOT test. For instance, if you have a classic car that is more than 40 years old, it may not require an MOT test or vehicle tax.
Other vehicles that don’t require a yearly MOT include:
If you think your vehicle is exempt from needing an MOT, you need to fill in the Government’s MOT Exemption form so that you can either tax it or apply for tax exemption.
With nearly two in five MOT tests failing first time, let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons for failing an MOT.
Usually, a vehicle fails an MOT because of minor faults that the owner could have fixed themselves before paying for a test.
Here are just some of the reasons your car might fail its MOT test:
The most common reasons that cars fail their MOTs include:
It is a good idea to check these things before taking your car for an MOT test to see if you can fix them yourself.
Unfortunately, you cannot solve all potential problems on your own – some vehicle issues will require the expertise of the garage.
So, what happens if you fail your MOT?
If your car fails its MOT, the test centre will give you a VT30 certificate showing the reasons for the fail.
If your car has a dangerous fault, you won’t be allowed to drive it. Get a quote for repairs from the garage you got the MOT from, and then call around some other local garages. You might be able to get the repairs done cheaper elsewhere, even if it means they need to tow your vehicle to their garage.
If your vehicle fails the MOT:
You need to fix all major and dangerous faults to make your car roadworthy. Then, you should rearrange a partial MOT retest which your car must pass before you can drive it on the roads again.
Alternatively, if you do not have any major faults, you might get a list of ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ problems that you need to monitor or fix in the future.
On 29 March 2020, the DVLA introduced a COVID MOT extension to the normal testing regime. The aim of this government scheme was to help reinforce COVID-19 lockdown measures and protect people who would potentially expose themselves to the virus while taking their vehicles to have an MOT test.
Thus, if a vehicle’s MOT expired between 30 March 2020 and 31 July 2020, it was automatically extended by six months from the existing MOT expiry date. For example, if the MOT due date was 3 May 2020, it was automatically extended to 3 November 2020.
What about in 2021?
On 29 June 2020, the government announced that the COVID MOT extension scheme was to end on 31 July 2020. As a result, from 1 August 2020, every driver needed a valid MOT certificate.
So, now the MOT regime is performing in the same way it did before the pandemic began. This means that you must continue to get your MOT every year as usual.
And there you have it – everything you need to know about getting an MOT in the UK. Now you know how to get an MOT, you should never miss your MOT due date or be driving with an expired MOT certificate.
For more information about how to keep all your vehicle documents up-to-date, take a look at our other DVLA guides.
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