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Your Complete Guide To The MOT Test

As per UK law, vehicles that are over three years old are mandated to undergo an annual MOT (Ministry of Transport) test to confirm their fitness for the road. In this guide find out every detail regarding the MOT test, from its essentials, the covered aspects, to how to handle issues like a lost certificate. Included is an exhaustive MOT checklist to ensure your vehicle is prepared for the assessment.

Understanding the MOT Test

The MOT testing procedure might seem stressful to many vehicle owners. The anxiety of leaving your car at a service station or test centre, coupled with the apprehension of hefty repair bills, makes the MOT test quite daunting. However, an understanding of the MOT process is crucial, especially concerning the purchase, sale, transfer, and safe operation of your vehicle.

A missing or invalid certificate can have severe repercussions such as fines, points on your licence, or even a driving ban. Moreover, the MOT status greatly influences a vehicle’s market price during buying and selling.

The acronym MOT signifies the Ministry of Transport, the governmental body accountable for the roads when the MOT test was initiated in 1960. Initially, the test was only compulsory for cars over ten years old, but this period has significantly reduced since, with the test becoming more comprehensive.

The MOT test was designed to examine a vehicle’s safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions, spanning from smaller motorbikes to the largest trucks. Its primary objective was to prohibit vehicles with potentially hazardous faults from hitting the roads.

Following the Government’s implementation of stricter MOT measures in May 2018, over a million cars were deemed ‘dangerous’ by year-end. Evidently, the tests have become more challenging.


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Crucial Aspects of an MOT Test

The MOT test scrutinises various parts of your car to verify they comply with the minimum standards set by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Authority. This includes the presence and legibility of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and the secure, legible, and correct format of your registration plate.

The MOT test also includes checks on the:

  • Lights
  • Steering and Suspension
  • Wipers and Washer Bottle
  • Windscreen
  • Horn
  • Seatbelts
  • Seats
  • Fuel System
  • Emissions
  • Bodywork
  • Doors
  • Mirrors
  • Wheels and Tyres
  • Brakes

Examining these components before the MOT test can save you from unnecessary retesting or repair costs due to issues like a faulty light bulb or an empty windscreen washer bottle.

Evidencing a Successful MOT Test

Upon passing the MOT test, you will receive a VT20 MOT Test Pass certificate. The certificate design was updated in May 2018 to list any faults or defects in a clearer and more understandable manner. If the MOT computer system malfunctions, an MOT tester can issue a ‘Contingency MOT test certificate’. A failed test will warrant a VT30 MOT Test Failure certificate.

Replacing Your MOT Certificate

The importance of a valid MOT certificate cannot be overstated. If lost or damaged, immediate replacement is recommended. Any MOT test centre can issue a duplicate, and you don’t need to revisit the centre that originally conducted the test. Providing the vehicle registration details and the V5C log book reference number will get you a replacement at a cost of £10 or half the full MOT test fee, whichever is lower.

Vehicles Exempt from an MOT Test

Certain vehicles are exempt from the MOT test due to their newness or antiquity:

  • Vehicles younger than 3 years from the manufacturing or registration date typically don’t require testing as they are usually under warranty.
  • Classic cars over 40 years old that haven’t been ‘substantially changed’.

If you own a classic vehicle, it’s recommended to read the Department for Transport guidance to confirm if an MOT is necessary. The Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs offers specific expert advice on individual car makes and models.

To apply for an MOT exemption or purchase your car tax, complete an MOT exemption form (Form V112).

As technology continues to evolve, more and more services are transitioning online, and the UK’s MOT (Ministry of Transport) checks are no exception. From checking your MOT status, MOT history, upcoming due date, to even tax and insurance, this article gives you a thorough look at how to navigate these online checks effectively.


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Reliable Platforms for Checking Your MOT Status

Several reliable platforms, including the DVLA, offer online services to check your MOT status for free. These platforms become particularly useful when you misplace your certificate, need to confirm when your MOT is due, or are considering buying a car and need to check its MOT status. Trusted online platforms like Halfords, Confused, Regit, and AA provide this service. The premium ones also incorporate the manufacturer service schedule when available.

These digital services allow you to sign up for reminders to avoid missing your MOT date, requiring only your registration number or the number plate of the vehicle you’re considering buying.

The DVSA’s Government MOT Checker

The Government’s official MOT checker provides a comprehensive service, encompassing both your MOT and Vehicle Tax details, as stored by the DVLA/DVSA. To utilise this service, you simply need to enter the vehicle’s registration details and confirm the type of car it finds.

Checking Your Vehicles MOT History

Several platforms, including HPI and the AA, offer a record of a vehicle’s MOT history. You can check this data and future dates for free with CarGuide or directly via the DVSA.

Remember Your MOT Due Date to Avoid Fines

Failing to maintain a valid MOT can lead to severe consequences, including fines up to £2,500, three penalty points, a driving ban, and potential implications for your insurance cover. By checking your VT20 MOT Pass certificate or utilising online services such as the Gov MOT checker, you can ensure that you remember your MOT due date.

The Relationship Between an MOT, Car Tax & Insurance

A valid MOT pass certificate is not just a legal requirement for driving; it’s also crucial for other services, including your car tax and insurance. Forgetting your MOT can, therefore, ripple out, affecting these other aspects.

What Does an MOT Cost?

While there’s no minimum cost for an MOT test, the DVSA sets the maximum fee for a car at £54.85. This cost doesn’t include potential repair costs if your car fails the MOT.


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Locating a Local MOT Centre or Garage

Finding a local MOT centre or garage is as simple as performing a quick Google search. You can even use the same method to locate Council MOT centres.

Selling a Car without an MOT

Though selling a car without an MOT might seem like a hassle, especially for older cars, it’s indeed possible. While this approach has its drawbacks, it can be a valid option in some cases.

The Cost of an MOT Failure

The cost of MOT test failures can vary. However, several services can help you navigate this process, such as car scrapping services and online car buying services.

Common Reasons for MOT Failure

Understanding the common reasons for MOT failures can help you prevent them. Some of the most common issues include problems with lights, suspension, brakes, tyres, and windscreens.

1. Lighting Issues – 18%

One of the most frequently reported issues during MOT tests involves the vehicle’s lighting system. This typically includes problems with headlights, brake lights, fog lights, reversing lights, and daytime running lights. Checking all of these lights before your MOT test can help you identify any blown bulbs that need replacing, a task that is generally quick and cost-effective.

2. Suspension Problems – 12%

Suspension faults can be tricky to identify. A basic test is to push down on each corner of your vehicle and then let go. If the vehicle quickly settles back to its proper height, your shock absorbers may be functioning well. Nevertheless, it might be advisable to get your suspension system professionally checked if you suspect any issues.

3. Brake Deficiencies – 10%

Brake-related problems, like loose or unresponsive handbrakes, can lead to MOT test failures. Make sure to examine your car’s braking system before the test to identify and rectify any problems.

4. Tyre Concerns – 7%

Examine your tyres’ pressure and tread depth. Remember, the legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. Many modern tyres have wear indicators, but a 20p coin can also be a useful tool to check the depth of the main grooves.

5. Windscreen Complications – 7%

Windscreen washers and wiper blades must function correctly and efficiently clear the glass. Any chips or damage in the driver’s central view that exceed 10mm, or any damage larger than 40mm in the total swept area, can result in an MOT failure.

6. Exhaust System Failures – 4%

Before your MOT test, start your car and let it run to check for any unusual smoke or noises, especially if you have a diesel car with a particulate filter.

7. Steering Discrepancies – 3%

Detecting steering issues might be challenging without professional assistance, but if you notice any stiff or unresponsive steering, have it checked out before your MOT test.

8. Fluid Checks

This includes brake fluid, windscreen washer fluid, oil, and checking for any leaks. Maintaining the appropriate levels of these fluids is essential for your vehicle’s performance and safety.

9. Additional Checks

Other potential MOT test failure factors include the fuel cap, mirrors, horn, seatbelts, rust, and warning lights. These components must all be in proper working order for a successful MOT test.

By following these preventative measures, you can increase the likelihood of your vehicle passing its MOT test the first time around, saving you time, money, and stress. Regular maintenance and early detection of potential issues are key in preventing unexpected MOT failures.

Essential Tips for Passing Your MOT

Preparing well for your MOT can greatly enhance your chances of passing. Cleaning your car thoroughly, checking fluids, replacing old wiper blades, and getting potential MOT failures repaired beforehand are some ways to ensure you’re well-prepared for your MOT.


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The UK MOT Test FAQs

Q1: What is the UK MOT Test?

The UK MOT Test, also known as the Ministry of Transport Test, is an annual examination that vehicles in the United Kingdom are required to undergo to ensure they meet the necessary safety and environmental standards.

Q2: Who needs to take the UK MOT Test?

All vehicles that are more than three years old must take the UK MOT Test to ensure their roadworthiness and compliance with legal requirements.

Q3: Where can I take the UK MOT Test?

The UK MOT Test can be taken at authorized MOT testing centers throughout the country. These centers are approved by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Q4: What does the UK MOT Test check?

The UK MOT Test covers various aspects of a vehicle, including its brakes, lights, tires, exhaust emissions, steering, suspension, and general structural integrity. It is designed to assess the safety and environmental impact of the vehicle.

Q5: How often do I need to take the UK MOT Test?

The UK MOT Test is required annually for vehicles that are more than three years old. It is important to note that the test must be completed before the current MOT certificate expires to ensure the vehicle remains legal to drive on the road.

Q6: What happens if my vehicle fails the UK MOT Test?

If your vehicle fails the UK MOT Test, it means that it does not meet the required standards. In such cases, necessary repairs and improvements must be made to bring the vehicle up to the required standard. Once the repairs are completed, the vehicle can be retested to obtain a valid MOT certificate.

Q7: Can I drive my vehicle without a valid UK MOT certificate?

No, it is illegal to drive a vehicle without a valid UK MOT certificate if it is over three years old. Doing so can result in penalties, fines, and even the possibility of your vehicle being impounded.

Q8: How much does the UK MOT Test cost?

The cost of the UK MOT Test may vary depending on the testing center you choose. The maximum fee for a car MOT test set by the DVSA is £54.85, but prices may vary at different testing centers.

Q9: Can I book my UK MOT Test online?

Yes, you can book your UK MOT Test online. The DVSA provides an official website where you can find approved testing centers and book your MOT Test at a convenient date and time.

Q10: How long does the UK MOT Test take?

The duration of the UK MOT Test can vary depending on the type and condition of the vehicle. On average, it takes around 45 minutes to 1 hour for the test to be completed. However, it’s a good practice to allow extra time for unforeseen circumstances or any required repairs.


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