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Guide To The MOT Test

By Stephen Turvil | June 26, 2019


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MOT guide including how the test works, its purpose, how to complain if the result is wrong – plus the prices

Guide To The MOT Test

What is the purpose of the MOT?

The MOT clarifies whether your car is safe and environmentally efficient. Typically, this visual inspection is required 3 years after registration then every subsequent year. There are exceptions, though. A taxi has to be tested after 1 year. In contrast, a classic car is exempt once it hits 40 years but you still have to ensure it is roadworthy. There is a penalty if not.

Where can I get an MOT?

There are of thousands of test centres that can assess your vehicle. Each has to display a logo that incorporates a blue background and 3 white triangles. Every examiner has to work to the same manual to ensure the test is consistent. Your car either:

  • passes the test without any negative comment
  • passes even though there is a fault(s)
  • fails and cannot go on the toad until it is repaired

The table below reveals how the car’s components can be categorised, what the categories mean in terms of safety or environmental efficiency, and how they influence your test result.

Guide To The MOT Test Image 0

Your car can be tested up to 1 month before its MOT runs out without changing the annual expiry date. For example, if the certificate expires on March 20th – and it is tested between February 21st and March 19th - the new certificate will be valid until March 20th the following year. No time is added if your vehicle is tested prior to 1 month before its certificate expires.

What is checked during the MOT?

The examiner checks a vast range of components. The exhaust must be complete and effectively control pollution, for example. Tougher rules for diesel cars came into force in 2018. Also, the bodywork cannot be rusted in a manner likely to hurt someone that brushes against it. Further checks relate to the: tyres, seatbelts, lights, and brakes. The list is by no means exhaustive.

Who supervises the MOT?

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has a wide remit including responsibility for the MOT. It defines the requirements of the test, approves test centres and monitors their performance.

What can I do if my car wrongly fails or passes the MOT?

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency says speak to the test centre if you suspect it wrongly failed your vehicle. This gives the centre a chance to address your concerns. Do so before any repair work. If you are still unhappy, the DVSA has a complaints form you can download for free. VT17 is the reference. Now simply:

  • return the form within 14 days of the test
  • expect to be contacted within 5 days
  • if the DVSA decides to retest your vehicle, arrange a date and time then pay the relevant fee
  • study the subsequent inspection report

The procedure is similar if you suspect the centre wrongly gave your car a clean bill of health. However, the timescale is more flexible. Complain within 3 months if there is a potential corrosion problem, for example. Alternatively, complain within 28 days for other issues. There is no charge if your car is retested.

How much does the MOT cost?

Your MOT fee cannot exceed a specified sum. That sum is based on the class of vehicle. There is no VAT. Refer to the table below. 

Guide To The MOT Test Image 1

How can I check the MOT history of a vehicle?

If you want to check a car's MOT history, you can view it here for free

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