What's an MOT?

The MOT test explained

The MOT test is an annual inspection that makes sure your vehicle meets the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards required by law.

If your vehicle’s more than 3 years old, you’ll have to get it tested every year. In some areas of the UK (like London), taxis and private hire vehicles are required to have 2 MOT tests a year, so make sure to check the rules for your local area.

Need a hassle-free MOT? Book with Smart Care and we'll take care of it.

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What can I expect from an MOT?

Watch our video to learn what happens during an MOT and why getting one is so important.

What checks are included in an MOT?

The MOT test involves dozens of checks on your car, covering many components from the braking system and fuel system to seatbelts, wipers, mirrors, lights and the exhaust.

It doesn’t, however, include the condition of the engine, gearbox or clutch.

Most vehicles also have their exhaust emissions tested as part of the MOT — you won’t be able to get an MOT certificate if your vehicle’s exhaust emissions are too high.

Emissions checks were added to the MOT in 1991, but a European Union directive was introduced in 2018 leading to much stricter limits on diesel emissions.

According to GOV.UK, the only vehicles exempt from the emissions test are:

  • Vehicles with fewer than 4 wheels.
  • Vehicles with 2-stroke engines.
  • Hybrid vehicles.
  • Quadricycles.
  • Hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.
  • Electric vehicles.

Remember that an MOT pass doesn’t mean that your vehicle’s roadworthy for the life of the certificate, and regular maintenance is still vital.

Read our full list of what the MOT test covers.

Are any vehicles exempt from the MOT test?

Tractors, goods vehicles powered by electricity registered before 1 March 2015 and some historic or classic cars are exempt from the MOT test and don’t need a valid MOT certificate to use UK roads.

Cars, vans and motorcycles over 40 years old don't need an MOT as long as they've not been substantially changed in the previous 30 years.

If your vehicle meets the exemption criteria, you won’t have to apply to stop getting an MOT. Instead, when you tax your vehicle, you should declare it meets the exemption rules. Despite not getting an annual MOT, you should still make sure your vehicle remains in a roadworthy condition, to keep you and other drivers safe.

What does MOT stand for?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport, as this was the government department responsible for checking vehicle roadworthiness when the test was introduced, in 1960.

MOT tests from the AA

When you book an MOT test with AA Smart Care, you get:

  • Free vehicle collection and return
  • AA approved garages
  • Quick and easy online booking and payment
  • 12-month guarantee on all parts and labour
  • Fair, transparent pricing

If your car fails its MOT and you’d like us to make the necessary repairs, we’ll carry out your retest for free.

AA approved MOTs, services and repairs at a local garage near you

Book with Smart Care and get a 12-month guarantee on all parts and labour, fixed pricing with no hidden extras and free vehicle collection and return (subject to availability).