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MOTs: Everything You Need To Know

Everything You Need To Know About MOTs

Published 31 January 2017


What is an MOT?

Vehicles that are more than three years old are legally required to take an MOT (Ministry of Transport) test every year to check it is roadworthy.


How Much Does An MOT Cost?

The amount you pay for an MOT test fluctuates depending on the type of vehicle – but there is a maximum charge.

Those fees are listed in full on the GOV.UK website. In summary however, the maximum MOT fee for a car with up to eight passenger seats is £54.85. For a motorcycle it’s £29.65. Generally, the larger the vehicle the higher the maximum fee.


When Do I Need To Get an MOT Test?

When your car is three years old from the date of its registration it will need its first MOT test – and then it needs to be retested every year on the anniversary of its last MOT test.

Once passed, you’ll get an MOT test certificate with the date of test on it, and the date of expiry so you know when the vehicle requires a new MOT. If you choose, you can get the vehicle retested up to a month (minus a day) before it expires and keep the original renewal date.


MOT Exemptions

Cars that are 40 years old or more are exempt, unless the vehicle has had substantial changes.


How To Find Out When My MOT is Due?

If you’ve lost your MOT certificate you can simply use the tool to enter your registration number and vehicle make.

This will check both your MOT status and tax status in a matter of seconds. You’ll also be able to have a fresh MOT certificate sent to you for free to replace the lost one.


What Does an MOT Advisory Note Mean?

Sometimes, your car may pass its MOT but with so-called “minor faults”. These indicate issues with the vehicle that haven’t been deemed serious enough for it to fail, but will need addressing in the near future.

Think of them as warnings. Although your car has been passed fit to drive, minor faults shouldn’t be ignored. Typical issues might be tyres that are getting close to having the minimum tread depth and will need replacing soon, or brake pads showing signs of being worn.

If minor faults are ignored, there’s a good chance your car may fail an upcoming MOT test. It may also have an effect on resale value as any buyer will be aware of the need to make repairs.



What Happens If My Car Fails an MOT Test?

If your car fails its MOT, then you can only take your vehicle away if your current MOT certificate is still valid and no ‘dangerous’ problems were listed in the new report from the failed MOT. Otherwise, you must get it repaired before you’re allowed to drive.

If you decide to take it to another garage to have the failed defects addressed then your car will still need to meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times or you can be fined.



What Is Checked During an MOT Test?

The MOT tests some important items on your vehicle to check that they meet the legal standards.

It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition.

The test doesn’t cover the condition of the:

  • engine
  • clutch
  • gearbox


  • Body / vehicle structure / general items,
  • Towbars,
  • Fuel system,
  • Exhaust emissions,
  • Exhaust system,
  • Seatbelts,
  • Seats,
  • Doors,
  • Mirrors,
  • Load security,
  • Brakes,
  • Tyres and wheels,
  • Registration plates,
  • Lights,
  • Bonnet,
  • Wipers and washers,
  • Windscreen,
  • Horn,
  • Steering and suspension,
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Electrical.


What Pre-MOT Checks Should I Do?

It is worth doing a check on the following items before your MOT, which you can easily do without any mechanical knowledge.

Check your seat belts

Are the mandatory seat belts in the car, and are they suitable for the car?  Are they in good condition and are working.
Seats – Make sure the driver seat can be adjusted, and that the seats are securely fitted.  Make sure the seat backs can be fixed in the upright position.


Is the door latch secure in the closed position? Do the front doors open from the inside and the outside and in the back do the doors open from the outside. Take a look at the hinges and catches to make sure they are in a good condition.


Makes sure that they are clean the correct mirrors are attached, secure and free from damage

Load Security

Make sure that your boot or tailgate close correctly

Tyres and Wheels

Look at the condition, are they secure and are the correct tyre size and type.

Check the tread of your tyres, a handy tip is by using a 20p coin.  Place the coin in the tread and if the outer band of the coin is hidden then your tread is above the legal limit.  Remember to test all around the tyre.

If your spare wheel is not in a good state then do not put it in the car as spare wheels are not tested.

Registration Plates – These needs to be secure in a good condition, the right colour with the right size lettering – You will know if yours is not, as it will look totally different to other car plates on the road.  Make sure they are clean and readable.


Get your mate for this quick test – check all the beams are working correctly and all the indicators.


Does the bonnet close correctly and securely

Wipers and washers

Are they working and do you have sufficient screen wash


Check the condition for chips and cracks, if there are any major cracks these need to be fixed.  Any small chips which are in the drivers visibility will also need sorting.


Does it work and is it adequate for your vehicle.

By carrying out your own little MOT checks you can make your own replacements, which will be a lot less that getting the garage to do it.  Simple checks of your own should save the pain of having to get a re test for silly things that could have been avoided.

If you are unsure of how to change a wiper or perhaps a bulb then have a look on YouTube where you will find lots of people videoing themselves carrying out such tasks!


MOT Inspection Manual

The MOT inspection manual tells you:

  • everything that’s tested
  • how the MOT tester will check it
  • the reasons things can be failed


What are the penalties of not having an MOT?

You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a car without a valid MOT.

If your car fails an MOT with ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ problems, you might not be allowed to drive it until these have been fixed. You’ll be given a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ which is recorded in the MOT database.

If you drive a vehicle deemed ‘dangerous’ you can be fined up to £2,500, as well as receive a driving ban and 3 penalty points.


Can I Get an MOT Test Reminder?

If you wish to receive free text message or email reminders a month before your MOT is due for renewal, you can subscribe to the Department for Transport’s free service.

You’ll need:

  • the vehicle’s number plate
  • a mobile phone number or email address

You can also check the MOT status of a vehicle at any time by entering its number plate on the Government’s online tool.


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