A Guide to Getting an MOT

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What You Need to Know

  1. An MOT shouldn’t be mistaken for servicing. An MOT doesn’t look into the mechanical condition of the car and passing the test doesn’t necessarily mean there are no problems with the vehicle.
  2. A new vehicle needs an MOT once it’s three years old. After that it needs to be tested annually.
  3. You’ll see garages displaying a symbol consisting of three white triangles on a blue background. All of these are approved MOT test centres.
  4. £54.85 is the maximum price for an MOT on a car with less than eight passenger seats, though centres are free to charge less.
  5. If you fail an MOT your car will need to retested. You cannot drive without a valid MOT certificate (unless you’re on the way to an MOT or to have repairs carried out.)
  6. In many cases you will not need to pay for a retest, or will only have to pay a partial fee.
  7. You can appeal against the result of the test if you believe it to be wrong.
  8. If you lose your certificate, replacements can be bought for £10 or less.

As a road user it’s your legal obligation to ensure that your vehicle is in roadworthy condition. An MOT test certifies that your car comes up to at least the minimum standard required by law. Without a valid MOT you cannot legally drive and will be at risk of persecution if you do. Indeed, the only time it’s acceptable to drive with an expired MOT is if you’ve already booked a new test and are on your way to the test centre.

In this guide we’ll run you through all you need to know about the MOT process.

How Often Do I Need to Get an MOT?

A vehicle’s first MOT usually needs to be carried out once it’s three years old. After this, it will need to be tested annually.

Where Do I Get an MOT?

You will have seen certain garages displaying a symbol which consists of three white triangles on a blue background. (If you’re unsure, you can see it on this page.) This symbol shows that a garage is an approved MOT test station. There are currently around 21,000 of these around the country, any of which you can use to book your MOT test. These centres and the scheme as a whole is overseen by the VOSA, who provide training to testers and set the standards for assessment.

How Much Does an MOT Cost?

At present the maximum fee that can be charged for an MOT test for a car (less than 8 passenger seats) is £54.85. For a motorbike (assuming you don’t have a side car) the maximum fee is £29.65. However, test centres can charge what they like below this level, so it’s worth shopping about.

Does an MOT Guarantee My Car Is In Good Condition?

No. An MOT merely confirms that your car, at the time of testing, met legal standards of roadworthiness. The engine and the gear box are not inspected and the general mechanical condition of the car isn’t looked at. Don’t confuse an MOT for servicing. Problems may still be present in your car. Be sure to have the vehicle looked at regularly and practice good car maintenance.

What If My Car Fails an MOT Test?

If you fail then your car has basically been deemed un-roadworthy. Oddly enough, as long as the existing MOT hasn’t yet expired, even if the car fails, you can still drive it until the old MOT is up. Of course, you can still be persecuted by police for driving an unsafe vehicle.

Once the old MOT has expired you’ll only be able to drive to a garage to have repairs done or a retest. Retests should take place at the same centre as the original test was conducted.

If you leave your car at the centre to repaired and retested within 10 working days then only a partial retest will be needed and you won’t have to pay for it. Likewise, if it’s taken away for repairs and brought back before the end of the next day, you won’t normally have to pay for a retest (it depends on the exact area in which the car failed).

If the car has to be taken away and returned within 10 working days, there may be a partial fee for retesting.

Can I Appeal Against the Result?

If you disagree with a failed result you can appeal using this form. You need to send this form within 14 working days of the test.

What If I Lose the Certificate?

You can get a replacement for £10 or less from any MOT testing station, regardless of whether it's where you went to be tested. You’ll need to have your vehicles registration number and V5c number from the registration certificate.

Further Reading


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