Everything you always wanted to know about the MOT* (*but were too afraid to ask)

Ok, so we’re not Woody Allen, and it’s highly unlikely that this is going to turn into a ‘cult’ blog post. However, there are plenty of questions involving motoring basics that our customers get a little flushed or embarrassed about asking.

We’re here to put that straight.

One of the popular phrases (or clichés, if you like) in assemblies, brainstorms, consultancies or development meetings, is…

There’s no such thing as a stupid question

When it comes to the health of your car, which let’s face it, is paramount in the safety and well-being of your passengers (family and friends alike), so if there’s even the smallest detail that you’re unsure of, and need to know more about—you must ask.

To get ahead of the curve, we’ve decided to help out the shyest among you with all the MOT basics we think you need to know.

We hope they help—and spare those blushes when dealing with your mechanic or Fixter garage.

What does MOT stand for?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport test. The Ministry of Transport was one of the government departments to precede the current Department for Transport. The test was introduced in 1960 under the Road Traffic Act 1956.

The MOT (test) is an annual test of vehicle safety, roadworthiness and a check of vehicle emissions. Your certificate lasts one year from the time of testing.

Does my car need an MOT?

Every car over 3-years-old needs a valid MOT certificate by law.

Don’t panic, though—there are around 20,000 garages in Great Britain that are licensed to carry out the test and award the certificate.

Drivers in Northern Ireland will need to find a DVA test centre (Driver and Vehicle Agency) to carry out the inspection. The DVA is the equivalent of the GB DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).

When do new cars need an MOT?

New cars are all expected to perform to the correct level of roadworthiness as they leave the showroom, and expected to maintain the standard for the first 3 years of use.

However, after those 3 years, your car will need testing just like everyone else’s, so put a reminder in your diary. Your MOT is held on a digital database, so if you don’t have one, or yours has expired, it’s an easy spot for the police.

Driving without an MOT carries a heavy fine

Driving without an MOT is illegal and carries a £1000 fine for those who choose to break the law. The only exception to the rule is if you’re driving to a pre-booked MOT test appointment.

Even if you’re not driving the car, it’s illegal to park it on public highways (roads to you and I) without a valid certificate.

Has my car got an MOT?

Whenever you buy a car, you should be provided with all of the relevant paperwork—including the MOT document.

If you didn’t receive one, don’t panic! Here’s how to check for an MOT online. The Government allows you to check the MOT status of your vehicle online. All you need is the vehicle registration number, and you’ll be provided with a list of information about your car, and of course, if a valid MOT is in place.

The page shows you when your MOT is due. If the MOT has expired, it will tell you when it happened.

If you’d like to delve a little deeper, you can check the history of your vehicle MOT for any tests in England, Scotland or Wales since 2005. You’ll need the registration number and the 11-digit log book number (document V5C).

When is my car MOT due?

Your MOT certificate will show the date that your MOT runs out. You are entitled to have your car tested within a month of the expiry date, so there should be no last-minute panic.

Booking the test in plenty of time is always a good idea. If your car needs work to get it up to scratch, there may be parts to order or an additional appointment required to carry out the necessary repairs or replacements.

When does my MOT run out?

Your MOT will run out at midnight on the date of expiry. However, if you have your car retested in the month prior to its expiration, you are awarded the full 12 months from its expiry date.

So, there’s absolutely no reason for leaving the test until the last minute.

How long does an MOT take?

The average testing time for an MOT is between 45 minutes and an hour. Depending on the garage, and if they’re prepared to carry out any required repairs as they find them, it could take a little—or a lot—longer. It all depends on the work your car needs to earn a pass.

Is my car taxed and MOT’d?

If you run your car through the Government vehicle checker, it will also reveal the tax status of your car. You can find out when your tax is due, and if you need to tax your vehicle, you can do that online too.

What are the checks on an MOT?

There are a multitude of tests and checks carried out on your car. The following list outlines the main areas:

  • Vehicle identification
  • Brakes
  • Bodywork
  • Doors and openings
  • Exhaust and emissions
  • Horn
  • Lights
  • Seats and seatbelts
  • Steering
  • Tow bar (where applicable)
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Windows and mirrors

The most common fails are with lights and signals (29.6%), suspension (20.2%) and brakes (17.2%).

Over 10 million vehicles failed the MOT test in the year following May 2018—that’s over a third of all the cars tested.

Is my car MOT exempt?

When a car reaches the grand age of 40-years-old, it becomes exempt from the MOT test. The exemption might be discounted if a vehicle has undergone significant modification during the past 30 years.

The exemption also includes vans and motorbikes as well as cars.

Trucks, lorries, other large goods vehicles, kit cars and self-built vehicles will require a valid MOT, however old they are.

There are a few other exceptions: electric powered goods vehicles, tractors, track-laying vehicles, hackney carriages or private-hire vehicles licensed by local authorities, vehicles designed not to exceed 15mph and more.

For the full list, check out Form V112; page 2 covers all the exceptions.

How much does an MOT cost?

For the grand finale, here’s the big question on everyone’s lips…

The maximum fee that a garage is allowed to charge for the MOT test is £54.85 for a car and £29.65 for a motorcycle.

Many test centres will often charge significantly reduced rates, as the associated repairs to many vehicles will make up for any loss. It’s an excellent way to get extra work into their garage.

Let Fixter find the best option to MOT a car in your area

We’ll provide you with a range of options for your MOT. Some from as little as £29.

Many of our prices save our customers up to 30% against the prices of our competition. Why not give our instant quote request a try?

It’s a stress-free service, as all of our partner mechanics will collect and deliver your car back to you once the work is complete.

About Fixter

Fixter is revolutionising the car maintenance industry, one repair at a time. Fixter was founded to make car maintenance as easy as booking a taxi. Digital, transparent and stress-free, with world-class customer service. Since launching in Manchester in 2017, Fixter has expanded to more than 100 cities across the UK and provided thousands of car owners with honest, convenient and affordable car repair services.