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MOT Testing

The MOT Test is a vehicle check that is compulsory for all vehicles (including cars and motorbikes) that are over 3 years old and registered in the United Kingdom. The test is carried out by government approved MOT testing centres, and becomes due 3 years after first registration and the certificate is valid for one year, after which the vehicle needs to be re tested.

Testing ensures that vehicles are in a safe and roadworthy condition at the time of the test, but it is worth bearing in mind that a certificate only guarantees roadworthiness at the time of issue although the certificate is valid for a year. Something to bear in mind if you are buying a used car.

A MOT test can be taken up to a month before the due date and if the old certificate, or registration document in the case of the first MOT, is presented at the test, the certificate will be issued from the due date rather than the earlier test date.

0 - Intro

Here is a list of twelve simple but important checks anyone can do before taking their car for its MOT. Although these checks do not guarantee the car will pass, they will help avoid the easily preventable MOT failures.

1 - Tyres

Check all the tyres are inflated to the correct pressure, and there is at least 1.6mm of tread across the 3/4 of the tyre. Ensure there are no bulges, lumps or cut. The spare tyre is not tested, but a space saving tyre cannot be fitted to your vehicle when your car is presented for the test.

2 - Lights

Check that the following lights are working correctly: front position lights (aka side lights), headlights, rear lights, rear registration plate light, rear fog lamps, headlamps, brake lights and indicator lights. Check all bulbs are working even when light is tapped lightly with a hand and check and lens/casing is not cracked. Pay particular attention to the rear registration plate light as this is difficult to check in daylight, make sure both bulbs are functioning correctly.

3 - Hazard Lights

Check all indicator lights flash when the hazard light switch is selected. Check with the ignition on and off.

4 - Horn

Check this sounds correctly and is not a two tone type horn.

5 - Reg Plate

Check that is not cracked, securely fastened and not obscured. Also ensure the letters are of the correct size and spacing.

New checks have been introduced to the MOT Test to ensure the registration plate confirms to the Road Vehicles (Display of Registration Marks) Regulations 2001.

These checks will now confirm the following:

  • The characters and background colour comply with regulations
  • The character font is an a correct type
  • The characters are the correct size as is the size of the margin
  • The plates are fitted vertically
  • The non-reflective border is within the permitted width
  • Finally an unacceptable symbol or flag, such as football team crests or logo, is not displayed.

Also for vehicles registered on or after 1 September 2001 ( i.e 51 plates and later) the additional checks will also be performed:

  • It displays the BSAU 145d marking
  • It also displays the name and postcode of the registration plate supplier
  • It does not display a honeycomb or similar effect background.
6 - Vin

Check the car has a Vehicle Identification Number displayed.

7 - Seat Belts

Check all the seat belts fasten and unfasten correctly and are not damaged.

8 - Seats

Check the front seats secure. Front and rear seat backs can be secured in the upright position.

9 - Mirros

Mirrors should be fitted where required, usable and not damaged.

10 - Wipers & Washers

Make sure the wipers are not damaged and the washer bottle is full of liquid.

11 - Windscreen

Check for chips and cracks in the windscreen. In an area in front of the driver a chip cannot be bigger than 10mm, in other areas swept by the wipers that damage cannot be more than 40mm.

12 - Petrol Cap

Check that the seal around the petrol cap area is not worn.

MOT Test Fees

The MOT fees increased on 30th June 2008, the following are the current fees from that date.

The following shows the maximum a garage is allowed to charge for the MOT Test.

Service Price
Motor bicycles £28.65
Motor bicycles with side car £36.55
3 wheeled vehicles £36.55
(up to 8 passenger seats)
Motor caravans £53.10
Dual purpose vehicles £53.10
Public service vehicles
(up to 8 seats)
Private passenger vehicles &
(9-12 passenger seats)
Private passenger vehicles &
(9-12 passenger seats)

Lost MOT certificate

If you have lost your current MOT certificate then it is now a lot easier to find out its due date and get a replacement if necessary.

Firstly, unless you have been requested to produce your MOT certificate by the police, you are unlikely to require a replacement. You can now buy your Tax disc online, and if you do this the computerised record of your MOT is checked rather than you needing to present the MOT certificate.

How to check when your MOT is due

If you just need your current certificate to check when the MOT is due and you have the vehicle registration number then you can use the GOV.UK Website to tell you the due date of the MOT.

How to get a replacement MOT certificate

If you do need a replacement certificate take your V5C registration document to any MOT testing station and they can provide you with a replacement, they are likely to charge you £10 for this service.

MOT Failure Question

A question that is often asked follows:

If a car fails the MOT test, is the old test certificate still valid until its expiry date?

Well the answer does not seem to be found on any of the government information about the MOT test, so we emailed VOSA with this question and this is their response:

“An MOT certificate is valid until its expiry date. However if your vehicle fails a test before this date and you do not rectify the defects then you are driving an unroadworthy vehicle which is an offence.”

So to put this into context if your car fails the MOT due to illegal tyres then you are driving an unroadworthy vehicle, you were driving unroadworthy vehicle before the MOT, and you will be driving an unroadworthy vehicle until you get a new tyre. Therefore at anytime if caught you would be subject to a £2500 fine and 3 points per illegal tyre.

However once you get a new tyre your car is roadworthy and the old MOT is still valid until its expiry date, thus you can then drive your car again and get it retested to your timescale, with out worrying about driving without an MOT.

This is a very good reason to book your Mot early and give yourself plenty of time to book a retest if needed.

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