Everything You Need to Know about MOTs

In the United Kingdom, an MOT generally must be performed annually on all vehicles aged as a legal requirement once that vehicle reaches three years of age. But what exactly is an MOT and why do you need it?

MOT is an acronym for the ‘Ministry of Transport’ test as this was the government department responsible for vehicle roadworthiness standards in 1960 when the inspection mandate was first introduced. You need to ensure that your vehicle is up to date with its MOT and holds a valid MOT pass certificate to comply with UK law. An MOT is a test to inspect the vehicle to ensure it complies with UK road safety and environmental standards. As part of the routine inspection, a range of your vehicle’s parts will be checked and tested including the lights, steering, suspension, brakes, wipers, horn, fuel system, doors, mirrors, external bodywork, seat belts, wheels and tyres. It will also check the presence and clarity of your vehicle’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) and its exhaust emission levels. Vehicle parts that the MOT does not inspect the condition of include the clutch, engine and gearbox (transmission).

But are there any exceptions to the 3-year rule? In short, yes. In the United Kingdom, most cars generally need their first MOT when they reach three years of age, but in Northern Ireland, it isn’t required until a vehicle is four years old. There are also certain vehicles that need to have their first MOT when they are just one year old; a list of these vehicles can be found here. Some vehicles, such as tractors and electric goods vehicles that were registered before 1st March 2015, are exempt from the MOT requirement. Once your car, van, or motorcycle reaches 40 years of age, they too will be exempt from the MOT requirement, on the condition that they have not been substantially modified in the last 30 years. If your vehicle qualifies for one of these exemptions, you must declare this when applying for your vehicle tax. It is important to remember that regular checks and services should be undertaken on your vehicle to ensure that it remains roadworthy, as a valid MOT certificate or an MOT exemption doesn’t automatically ensure that your vehicle is safe to drive. Driving without a valid MOT test certificate, where required, may result in you being fined, receiving penalty points on your driving licence and/or a driving ban.

At this point, you may be wondering where to take your vehicle to get an MOT test done. The good news is that MOT-authorised test centres are situated all around the country, and test centres will display official blue signage featuring three white triangles to make it clear that MOT tests are conducted there. The MOT test is usually inexpensive and usually costs between £29.65 and £54.65 depending on the type of vehicle (prices correct as of May 2023), so long as the vehicle passes and no additional work needs doing.

Here are six common, and very avoidable, reasons vehicles fail their first MOT test:

  1. The number plate is not DVLA compliant.
  2. The tyre tread depth is below the minimum legal requirement.
  3. There is not enough screen wash in the tank.
  4. The vehicle has an overly dirty exterior or cluttered interior.
  5. There are illuminated warning lights present on the vehicle’s dashboard.
  6. There are stickers on the windscreen in the ‘line of sight’ i.e. inside the windscreen wipers sweep area.

If the vehicle fails the test the first time, it is important to note that you will usually have to pay an additional fee to repeat the test once the issues have been resolved, so it is wise to check and resolve any common and avoidable issues before taking your vehicle for its initial test.

Premier Components UK Ltd.
Unit 701
Meon Vale Business Park
Campden Road
CV37 8QR

Tel: +44(0) 1789 720 061
Company Number: 03577119
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