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MOT test

What you need to know to pass the MOT

The latest on rules, fees and appeals for this important annual safety and environmental test

If your vehicle’s more than three years old, you’ll have to get it tested every year to show that it meets minimum roadworthiness and emissions standards. The rules are different if it’s a taxi.

The MOT basically confirms, without dismantling, that your vehicle meets the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards required by law.

An MOT's no substitute for regular maintenance, and doesn’t mean that your vehicle’s roadworthy for the life of the 'certificate'.

If you want to know exactly what the test covers, you can read the official testing guides.

  • You can easily check the official MOT history and status of a vehicle you own or are thinking of buying. You only need to know the make and vehicle registration number.
  • The status check confirms the date and mileage of the last test and the expiry date. It also shows details of previous MOTs back to 2005. Records before 2005 weren't computerised.

Mot test

Test fees

The Government (Department for Transport) sets the maximum fee that can be charged for an MOT.

  • Currently £54.85 for a car.
  • Maximum fees are set to take account of the time a test should take and the costs associated with being an MOT tester.
The 'certificate'
  • The paper document you get from the garage is just your receipt, though it is still widely referred to as a certificate. It’s not proof of an MOT.
  • The official record – dates, mileage, location and any advisory work noted at the time – is held online and is connected to all MOT testing stations.

Your MOT 'certificate' will show the mileage at up to three previous MOT tests as well as the latest one.  This is to help beat ‘clocking’,where a vehicle’s mileage is fraudulently reduced to increase its value.

If it’s your car:

  • Check the mileage on the 'certificate' when you collect the car
  • If the garage has made a mistake the system will only allow them to correct it within seven days
  • Any error, if missed can affect your car’s value or make it harder to sell.

If you're buying a car

Vehicles made before 1960

Classic and historic vehicles are often very well maintained and have a much lower accident and MOT failure rate. 

Since November 2012 cars and motorcycles made before 1960 haven’t needed an MOT.

Not satisfied with your MOT?

Pass or fail, if you disagree with the result, it’s best to talk to the you test station first if possible. It's important not to let anyone else carry out repairs to your vehicle.

If you’re not satisfied with the way your test was conducted, complain to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) as this helps them maintain good service and consistent standards.

Getting an MOT early

You can take your car for an MOT up to a month early and keep the same renewal date but what if the car fails the test?

  • The expiry date of your old MOT still stands so you’ll still have a current MOT and if you take your car away, you’ll not be committing the specific offence of driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

But, you can't simply ignore the test result and continue to drive your car normally until the old MOT expires.

  • It is an offence to drive a vehicle with a known defect and to drive an un-roadworthy.
  • You can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Latest changes to the MOT

Since February 2014, a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) missing where one was fitted when the vehicle was built, will result in an MOT failure.

The last big update to the MOT test was in 2012/13 when several new test items were added to meet European Directive 2009/40/EC, aimed at setting minimum test standards across Europe.

These were the main changes:

Electronic parking brake controls are now included and must be present and not inappropriately repaired or modified. 

Checks of antilock brakes now include Electronic Stability Control (ESC) if fitted.

If you've got one of these warning lights then it must now work correctly:

  • Electronic parking brake
  • Electronic stability control 
  • Headlight main beam warning light
  • Electronic power steering warning light
  • Brake fluid level warning light
  • Seat belt pre-tensioner warning light

If a steering lock was fitted as standard it must be present and working.

The power steering fluid level must be above the minimum level indicated on the reservoir.

  • Products on the lens or light source that obviously reduce the light's intensity or change its colour are now a reason for failure.
  • HID headlights can cause dazzle if they are dirty or aimed too high. Where HID or LED dipped beam headlamps are fitted the tester will check the operation of any headlamp levelling and cleaning devices fitted.
Electrical wiring and battery
  • An insecure or leaking battery is now a reason for failure.
  • Visible wiring that’s insecure, inadequately supported, bared by damaged insulation or likely to cause a short will result in a failure.
  • There will be a basic security/damage check of 7-pin trailer sockets and a full electrical connectivity check of 13 pin sockets.

Tyre pressure monitoring systems fitted since January 2012 must be working correctly and not indicating a malfunction.

Supplementary restraints
  • An airbag fitted as original equipment must be present and not obviously defective.
  • A seatbelt pre-tensioner fitted as original equipment must be present and not obviously deployed.
  • Seatbelt load limiters or folding webbing type limiters fitted as standard must be present and not obviously deployed.
  • A Supplementary Restraint System (SRS) malfunction warning light indicating a malfunction is a reason for failure.

Your car will fail the MOT if a speedometer isn’t fitted, is incomplete, inoperative, has a dial glass broken/missing or can’t be illuminated.

Seats and doors
  • You must be able to lock the driver's seat in two or three different fore and aft positions.
  • On electric seats the motors must move the seat fore and aft.
  • Doors must be easy to open and close – hinges, catches and pillars will be inspected.
  • A rear door that can’t be opened from the outside using the relevant control is a new reason for failure.
Tow bar

Inappropriate repair or modification to a tow bar assembly is a reason for failure if judged likely to affect the roadworthiness of the vehicle/trailer.

  • A catalytic converter fitted as original equipment but missing is a reason for failure.

23 January 2017