Everything you need to know about your car MOT

By: Andy Newbound

Everything you need to know about the MOT

If you’re the owner of any car that’s three years old or older, you’ll need to ensure that your vehicle has a valid MOT certificate before you can drive it on the roads. Even if you have your car serviced and maintained regularly and the vehicle is in perfect condition, the law states that you still need to ensure it passes its annual MOT.

So what does the Test involve and why is it so important? To help explain this, we’ve taken a close look at the process and answered a few of the most common questions.

What is an MOT?

Let’s start with the name, MOT. This actually stands for Ministry of Transport, a now defunct government ministry that first introduced the vehicle safety test in 1960. Although the name of the ministry no longer exists (it is now known as the Department of Transport) the phrase MOT has stood the test of time and still appears on the test certificate and on the government’s web pages.

So, why was it introduced and why do we still need the MOT? The test itself was first introduced as a basic safety test for a vehicle once it became 10 years old. Yes, 10 years old!! To increase safety, this has gradually been reduced to the current three year ruling.

The test initially focused on a car’s brakes, steering and lights, yet has now evolved throughout the last five decades into the thorough minimum safety test it is today, with over twenty separate areas of each vehicle checked.

Why does your car need an MOT?

It’s the law! Once a vehicle is three years old, it needs to ‘pass’ an annual MOT Test. Without this MOT ‘pass’ certificate, you’ll be unable to renew or obtain the vehicle’s road tax. It will also invalidate your motor insurance cover.

Just as importantly, the annual MOT Test is designed to ensure that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy. This is clearly to protect you and other road users. As a driver it’s your responsibility to ensure that your car has an MOT test every 12 months and that it passes – even if it needs additional maintenance or repairs.

Once your vehicle ‘passes’ it’s MOT Test, it will be issued with an MOT certificate. This document carries a date of issue and the MOT is valid for the following 12 months. Your certificate will also include an expiry date. The next MOT can be carried out up to 28 days before this date is reached.

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What happens during the test?

Your highly-qualified MOT technician will thoroughly inspect over twenty areas of your vehicle to make sure it meets the minimum safety levels, stated by law. Here’s a list of the major areas checked during the MOT Test:

- Body, vehicle structure and general items

- Tow bars

- Fuel system

- Exhaust emissions

- Exhaust system

- Seatbelts

- Seats

- Doors

- Mirrors

- Load security

- Brakes

- Tyres and wheels

- Registration plates

- Lights

- Bonnet

- Wipers and washers

- Windscreen

- Horn

- Steering and suspension

- Vehicle identification number (VIN)

- Electrical

At this stage, no maintenance or repairs will be carried out. Instead, the technician will simply confirm whether your car’s systems operate safely, or not. If a component isn’t working correctly or is unsafe, this will be documented as part of the inspection process. It may result in your car failing the MOT Test.

If all the areas inspected are operating safely, your car will ‘Pass’ the MOT Test inspection and be issued with an MOT certificate. This is valid for the next 12 months.

How long does the MOT Test take?

The detailed MOT testing and inspection process usually takes a qualified technician no longer than 45 minutes. However, this may vary depending on your vehicle type.

Remember, at this stage no repairs will be made if the inspector finds any worn, damaged or defective components. The MOT Test is just an inspection. Any faults found need to be corrected after the test.

What does it cost?

The maximum cost of the annual MOT Test is set by the Department of Transport and currently stands at no more than £54.85.

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What happens if your car fails its MOT?

Your car will fail its MOT if it needs repairs to meet the legal safety requirements. Any faults found will be recorded on the MOT check list, together with a note about areas that may need attention if the car is to pass future MOT Tests – these are called ‘advisories’.

Remember, it is illegal to drive a car that has failed its MOT, or has no current MOT; this invalidates your motor insurance. However, there is an exception to this rule – when you drive to a pre-arranged test appointment or to a garage for repairs identified during the MOT Test.

If your car fails it’s MOT Test, the technician will issue a CT30 Certificate. This tells you in detail what needs to be fixed before the car can pass a re-test. This is also the work you’ll need to have carried out in order to drive legally on UK roads. At Stoneacre, we can give you a quote also telling you how much these repairs will cost.

How long do you have to get it retested?

There is actually no time limit by when you have to get your car repaired and re-tested. Although you won’t be able to legally drive the car, you can wait as long as you want before entering your car for a retest but you will then have to pay a second testing fee in full. However, the retest will be waived in the following circumstances:

- If your car has failed its MOT Test and you leave the car at the Testing Station to have the repairs and retest carried out.

- You take your car away for repairs but you return in to the testing station for a re-test by the end of the nest working day.

Can you get a replacement certificate if yours is lost?

The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) keeps an electronic record of every MOT carried out, so you will not have to produce your certificate to tax your car or insure it. However, a hard-copy certificate could be useful if you choose to sell your car privately: buyers might be unable to check online and may prefer to see the actual certificate.

When your car passes its MOT, you will be given an MOT certificate by the Testing Station. In addition to confirming that your car has passed its MOT, your certificate will contain an expiry date. This is the date by which the next MOT is required.

If you lose this certificate, you can obtain a replacement from the garage which issued your original. The fee for this is just £10. If you cannot access the garage (you might have moved out of the area or the garage may have closed) you can obtain a copy of a valid MOT certificate from any authorised MOT Testing Station. The fee for this is also £10.

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