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MOT The Basic

MOT The Basic

There’s lots of information out there about MOT tests and it’s very easy to get bogged down in the detail of it all. So read on for a back to basics guide to the MOT test which should tell you everything you need to know from a motorist’s point of view. 

What is the MOT?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport, after the government body which first introduced the test in the 1960s. The MOT is a test for all vehicles on the UK roads. It tests a range of elements on the vehicle to ensure that it is safe. Over the years, the range of issues tested has been expanded considerably. You can expect the MOT test to take anything between 45 and 60 minutes. 

What vehicles need a MOT?

Newer vehicles don’t require a MOT. This is because it is generally assumed that cars are safe when they roll off the production line. A car won’t need its first MOT until it is 3 years old. After that, it will be tested each year. At the other end of the scale, once a car is 40 years old it doesn’t need a MOT test either. However, owners of classic cars still have to ensure that they are roadworthy. Although we talk about cars most often when it comes to MOT tests, motorbikes, vans, lorries and buses need to be checked too.

Is it expensive?

The government caps the rates which garages are allowed to charge for a MOT test. This is usually adjusted every year in line with inflation and is currently £54.85 for a car and £29.65 for a motorbike. Garages can’t charge any more than this limit, but can choose to charge less if they want to. Many garages offer cheap MOT tests as a way of attracting customers, so it pays to shop around. 

Getting it done

There is a large network of garages up and down the UK licensed to provide MOT checks. These vary from large chain operations with hundreds of branches to little local garages employing just one or two mechanics. You should always book your MOT test in advance as garages are often busy places. 

Passing and Failing

Until recently there were two possible outcomes to a MOT test – pass and fail. That’s still the case, but the fails have been split into two different categories. If your vehicle passes, you can file the certificate away and forget about it for another year. The two categories of fail are major and dangerous. 

A major fail means that your car has a serious fault which has to be sorted out straight away. However, that fault is something which doesn’t make the car dangerous to drive. Get it fixed and present the car for a retest within five days to get your pass certificate. If however your car fails on a dangerous fault, then you can’t drive until it is fixed. You can then get it retested in the same way. 


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