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What Is An MOT?

MOT tests are a regular feature of driving for the vast majority of motorists. The only exceptions to this are people who always drive cars less than three years old. But what exactly are these tests, and what should you expect when you take your vehicle in to be assessed?

What Does MOT Stand For?

‘MOT’ stands for Ministry of Transport, so the full name of these assessments is Ministry of Transport tests. They are designed to check that vehicles meet the required safety and environmental standards.

There are currently around 21,000 authorised test centres across the UK, and these centres all display an official blue sign that features three white triangles. Make sure you look out for this sign when choosing a test centre.

What Is Included In A Car Service?

An MOT is not like a service and it doesn’t check the general mechanical condition of your car, for example the condition of the clutch, engine and gearbox. It does however check a wide range of important vehicle parts to ensure they meet the relevant legal standards.

During the test, the body and structure of your car will be examined to make sure they are free from excessive damage or corrosion in specified areas, and there are no sharp edges that are likely to result in injuries. The tester will also examine your vehicle’s fuel and braking systems, steering and suspension, exhaust system and emissions, doors, airbags, seats, seatbelts, mirrors, windscreen, windscreen wipers and washers, registration plates and electrics.

They will look at your tyres and wheels too, examining their condition, security, size and type, and tread depth. Any spare wheels and tyres will not be assessed.

Full MOT Checklist

How Long Does An MOT Take?

Typically, an MOT test takes around 45 minutes to an hour. However, if your car needs repair work, it may take longer. Exactly how long will depend on the nature of the repairs required.

You can wait at the test centre while the MOT is carried out, or you can leave your vehicle and go back to collect it later once the assessment is complete.

When Is My First MOT Due?

The first MOT on a car is due on the third anniversary of its registration. However, it’s important to be aware that some vehicles need to have their first test one year after registration instead. These include taxis and private and public service vehicles with more than eight seats.

When Is My MOT Due After This?

After this, you need to get your vehicle MOT tested every year. The date your MOT runs out will be printed on its pass certificate. You can put your car in for the test up to a month (minus a day) before your MOT runs out and keep the same renewal date. This gives you a little extra flexibility.

However, if you get your vehicle MOT tested earlier than this, your renewal date for the following year will be brought forward.

How Long Does An MOT Last?

This certification lasts for a year, so it’s really important to keep track of when your last test was and when you will need to go for your next one.

How Much Does An MOT Cost?

The maximum price of these tests is set by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. The exact figure depends on the type of vehicle you have, but for cars with up to eight passenger seats, the maximum cost is currently £54.85. For motorbikes, it’s £29.65. However at Tyre City you'll find our MOT test price much more affordable.

What If Your Car Fails Its MOT?

If your car fails its MOT, the test centre will give you a VT3O Certificate that sets out why.

The rules regarding MOTs changed in 2018 and now, if your car is deemed to have a dangerous fault, you won’t be able to drive it away. You will need to either arrange immediate repairs at the centre that carried out the test or have your car towed to another centre to be fixed.

If your vehicle has a major fault but is still classified as roadworthy, and as long as your previous MOT hasn’t yet expired, you can still drive it to get the faults repaired and to a pre-booked MOT.

Can You Drive Without An MOT?

It is illegal to drive your car if your MOT has expired, and you might be prosecuted if you’re found doing this. You risk being fined up to £1,000, and if your car has a dangerous fault, you could be fined up to £2,500, get three penalty points on your licence or even be banned from driving. Driving without a valid MOT also invalidates your car insurance.

How Can I Increase The Chances Of My Car Passing Its MOT?

Some simple checks could help you to avoid an MOT failure. For example, before you take your vehicle in for the test, make sure your windscreen washer fluid is topped up and any mess is cleaned from the cabin and boot. Ensure your windows and mirrors are clean too, and remove any stickers from your windscreen that are blocking your view.

Also, if you have any warning lights showing on your dashboard, sort out the underlying problem before the MOT test.

It also pays to inspect your lights, seats, seatbelts, windscreen wipers, engine oil levels and horn before the test, and to take a look at your tyres. They should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm and be inflated to the correct pressure. Look out for signs of damage such as cuts or bulges in the sidewalls or splits in the tread. 

Identifying and fixing problems before your MOT could save you the hassle and expense of arranging a re-rest, so it’s worth spending a little time carrying out these checks.