There are an abundance of high-street variations available for your car’s yearly MOT test. If you’re looking to keep as much of your money in your own pocket as possible, then those special offers you’ve seen for £20 tests will look pretty attractive right now. But be careful. All that glitters isn’t always gold.
With all the different offers, how much does an MOT cost for a car?
What you pay for your MOT test and certificate isn’t always what you might pay in total. The price you might pay to get your car through all of the areas it is likely to fail on could be an awful lot more. This is the key area that the garages are interested in.
An MOT itself isn’t a good earner at all for the garage—but the repairs they require can be.
The MOT breakdown
So, how much does an MOT cost in the UK?
Think about it; the maximum a garage is allowed to charge for an MOT test in the UK is £54.85.
The Government sets this price, and all the relevant rules and information is available from their website.
The average labour charges of independent mechanics can range anywhere between £45/hour and £65/hour.
If you weigh up that it takes an average of between 45 minutes to an hour to carry out the MOT test, that puts the mechanic on an almost impossible deadline to achieve the hourly rate they require.
The dealerships and franchises are already into a negative when it comes to profits, as their hourly rates are even higher—the UK average being around £92/hr.
When you consider this, and any extras, for example, a garage that offers a collection and delivery service, then you can see already, that the challenge that faces a garage in making their hopeful level of profit has already flown out of the window.
So, what’s the deal with those £20 and £25 MOT tests?
The term used in marketing for such an attractive proposition is known as a ‘loss-leader’. The supermarkets sell baked beans or spaghetti hoops at a loss in the hope that once a shopper starts loading their trolley with all the other irresistible items on the shelves, they’ll make enough profit to counter the loss.
It’s just the same with the cheap MOTs. The garage is hoping to hit you with enough repair costs, or in some cases by over-inflating their repair charges that they’ll cover the loss of the MOT price by tagging on a range of extra costs to boot.
So with this information, answering the question: how much is the cost of an MOT? It could be much more than you first see on the price tag.
The new MOT laws and how they help a garage to trap you
Your MOT certificate now outlines your vehicle’s faults in a breakdown of 3 categories: minor, major or dangerous.
Minor faults won’t prevent your car from passing its MOT, but they should be repaired as soon as possible. They’re pretty much the same as the former ‘advisory’ items you’d find on the old style certificate.
Major and dangerous MOT faults will fail your vehicle—immediately.
Once your car has failed its MOT, then the law is very strict about its use on the roads. The fine for driving a car without an MOT, down to any of those dangerous or major faults, is £2,500. You could also receive 3 points on your license or in some instances be banned from driving altogether.
So, any car that fails its MOT can’t legally be driven away from the garage. You either need to get it fixed (and at this point the mechanic is rubbing his oily hands together) or have it towed away.
You don’t have to be stuck with the garage that provided your MOT test
Finding an alternate garage with cheaper repair costs for the issues you need fixing might not be too hard, but finding one that can do it cheaper that includes the towing fee to get it to their garage probably is.
The only exception is where a major fault hasn’t rendered your car unroadworthy, and your existing MOT certificate is still in date. At that point, you might still be able to drive it away. Be careful, though. Make sure you know for sure that you’re covered. The last thing you want is to be hit with a huge fine because you weren’t properly educated on the matter.
The average cost of getting a car through its MOT
According to data, the average cost of an MOT repair bill is £143. Depending on how the car failed the test will determine the exact costs to that vehicle, but unless you’re dealing with a reputable and renowned mechanic, you’re in danger of paying a premium to make up for that low (but initially exciting) MOT price.
Simple problems that can lead to an MOT fail are things like blown light bulbs, low levels of windscreen wiper fluid, or even dirty number plates.
A garage might charge you £10 to change a £1.50 bulb. They’ll add a mark-up cost to any materials, and washing your car, well, that should be something you should have taken care of before even dropping it off. If the additional cost of a retest to earn your certificate is down to a bucket of soapy water or a £3 run through the car wash, then shame on you.
And that’s everywhere in the UK. How much does an MOT cost in Scotland or Wales? Exactly the same as in England. So all these factors need to be catered for wherever you live.
Think smart and save yourself time and money
There are plenty of repairs you can get carried out by your local or trusted mechanic before taking advantage of a cheap MOT. That way, you may be able to take advantage of a hopeful saving after all.
If the cost of replacing brake pads and discs is higher at your MOT centre, or you can swap out an expensive timing belt cost for a lower one from a better service, then these are the ways to save money if you know they’re likely to fail an MOT test.
A cheap MOT isn’t always a bad thing, but getting taken for a ride by a garage that offers one is. Spend your money wisely. Do your research, and always find a trusted service to carry out your repairs, car services and MOTs.