Getting to know MOTs

MOT stands for ‘Ministry of Transport’ and applies to all cars that are over three years old. The annual test is designed to check that a vehicle meets the current road safety and environmental standards. It’s illegal to drive without a valid MOT certificate, and you can be fined up to £1,000 if you are caught doing so.


What do they test during the MOT?


The test should last no more than an hour, and will look at various aspects of the car to make sure that they are legal. It is not a substitute for servicing, and the assessment excludes the condition of the engine, clutch and gearbox.

It is carried out by a tester who is specifically trained in MOTs, and the test includes examining the performance of the brakes, the headlamp aim, the fuel system for leaks, the level of exhaust emissions, the seatbelts, the tyres, the registration plates, as well as the steering, amongst other areas.


(Image courtesy of DVSA)


How can you find out online when the last test was for a vehicle?


You can easily check the testing history of a vehicle online by visiting the GOV.UK website. Upon entering the car’s registration, this will reveal if it passed or failed any test, the mileage recorded when it was tested, what parts failed at each test if applicable, and if any parts had minor problems. The site also displays the date for when the next test is due.


What does the Test Certificate show?


At the end of the test, and if the car has passed, you will receive a paper copy of the certificate which is valid for a period of one year and will be held on the central  database. You are able to complete the next test up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out (this is known as the ‘Expiry Date’).

The certificate will show any advisory comments such as if any of the tyres have deteriorated.

You will get a bilingual (Welsh and English) version of the certificate if your vehicle is tested in Wales.


What happens if your car fails?


If your car fails, you will be given a VT30 ‘Refusal of an MOT Test Certificate’. It will list the reasons why the car did not pass, and the issues listed on the certificate will need to be addressed and repaired before the car is retested.


Where can you get an MOT?


To find your local MOT test centre which is accredited to The Motor Ombudsman’s Service and Repair Code of Practice, visit The Motor Ombudsman’s Garage Finder.

Only an approved MOT test centre can provide a valid MOT. Make sure that the centre is displaying the official MOT logo, a blue sign with three connecting white triangles in the centre.


How much does an MOT cost?

Prices vary between garages, so it’s worth shopping around, however the maximum fee that you are allowed to pay for a car is £54.85.

You can find a complete list of prices for all vehicles on the DVSA website.

Are there any online reminders available?


To help avoid missing the inspection due date after the car has had its first MOT, you can sign up for free annual reminders on the GOV.UK website. All you will need is the vehicle’s registration number and a valid e-mail address.