What is the MOT test?
The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is an annual vehicle safety and road worthiness test which examines road vehicles on a number of criteria to determine whether or not they are safe to be used on public roads.
When is my MOT due?
Your vehicle is first required to undergo an MOT test three years after initial registration (i.e. any vehicles initially registered in 2013 required their first MOT in 2016).
Thereafter, vehicles must undergo an MOT test every year, with the due date determined by its last test (i.e. any vehicles which passed an MOT test in October 2016 are due for another MOT in October 2017).
In some cases, vehicles require their first MOT within one year of initial registration. A list of such vehicles can be found on the UK Government’s website.
For the purposes of MOT testing, vehicles are categorised into certain classifications based upon criteria such as the size and weight of the vehicle, and how many passengers it can carry. Vehicle classifications for MOT tests are as follows:
- Motorbikes (engine size up to 200 cm3)
- Motorbikes (engine size up to 200 cm3)
- Motorbikes (engine size more than 200 cm3)
- Motorbikes with sidecars (engine size more than 200 cm3)
- 3-wheeled vehicles (up to 450kg unladen weight)
- 3-wheeled vehicles (more than 450kg unladen weight)
- Cars (up to 8 passenger seats)
- Motor caravans
- Quads (max unladen weight 400kg – for goods vehicles 550kg and max net power of 15kw)
- Dual purpose vehicles
- Private hire and public service vehicles (up to 8 seats)
- Ambulances and taxis
- Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (9-12 passenger seats)
- Goods vehicles (up to 3,000kg design gross weight)
- Any class 4 vehicle (9 to 12 passenger seats) with a seat belt installation check
- Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (13 or more passenger seats)
- Play buses
- Any class 5 vehicle (13 or more passenger seats) with a seat belt installation check
- Goods vehicles (3,000-3,500kg design gross weight)
How much does an MOT cost?
- Motorbikes without sidecar: £29.50
- 3-wheeled vehicles (Class 3 only): £37.80
- Any Class 4 vehicle (cars, vans, quads, etc.) with up to 8 seats: £54.85
- Ambulances and taxis with 9-12 seats: £57.30
- Any Class 4A vehicle: £64
- Private passenger vehicles with 13-16 seats: £59.55
- Vehicles with more than 16 seats: £80.65
- Any Class 5A vehicle with 13-16 seats: £80.50
- Any Class 5A vehicle with more than 16 seats: £124.50
- Goods vehicles of more than 3,000kg design gross weight: £58.60
- Motorbikes with sidecar: £37.80
Partial retests will cost half of the initial test fee. The maximum fee for a duplicate test certificate is £10.
How to properly prepare for your MOT
- Ensure that all vehicle controls (e.g. indicators, windscreen wipers, lights) are working properly.
- Ensure that your vehicle’s fuel, oil, brake fluid and windscreen wash is topped up.
- Ensure that seat belts and doors can be opened and closed.
- Check that all items such as seats, steering wheel and registration plates are fastened securely.
- Check that your tyres’ tread is at least 1.6mm and that all tyres on the vehicle are consistent in terms of size.
- Ensure that there are no sharp edges or potentially hazardous damage to the vehicle’s exterior.
- Bounce each corner of the vehicle to see if it goes down under pressure, rises to full height and then settles.
- Ensure that you can see 100% clearly out through the windscreen. Also, check that your headlamps’ brightness isn’t curtailed by an accumulation of debris.
- Check that your exhaust isn’t emitting smoke or leaking.
- Bring the vehicle registration document, letter of appointment and any current Certificate/Notice of Refusal with you to the MOT test.
What happens during an MOT test?
- Show up in good time (at least 10 minutes early) on the day of the test, as per the appointment notice you will have received either in the post, by text or on email. If you cannot make it to the test centre for the appointment, you can ask someone else to present your vehicle for the test.
- When you arrive at the test centre, park in the lane specified in your appointment notice. Keep your engine running at normal temperature for the emissions test.
- You will be asked to drive your vehicle into the testing hall when the testers are ready.
- After the first few checks, the tester will take control of your vehicle and you should go to the test centre’s waiting area. You will be able to see the test being carried out. Passengers and pets are not permitted in the testing hall at any stage.
- In rare cases, your vehicle may be chosen for a randomly administered quality control re-check. However, the probability of this happening is low.
- A few minutes after the test is finished, you will be informed of your vehicle’s result. You will either get a vehicle test certificate (if passed) or a list of faults which need to be repaired (if failed).
This 2-minute video shows what happens during an MOT test.
What is checked in the MOT test?
- Minimum 1 wing/door mirror fitted to your vehicle (most will have 2, with 1 on each side)
- Secure to vehicle
- Glass in good condition
- No dangers such as sharp edges
- Internal rear view mirror fitted to windscreen
- All doors must open and close
- Front doors must open and close from both inside and outside
- Securely latch when closed
- Hinges aren’t broken or damaged
- Door release (e.g. handle) working properly
- Secure and in upright position
- Front seats securely fixed to vehicle floor (no loose or broken nuts)
- Belts in good condition
- No damage, tear or fraying
- Can be securely fastened and easily unfastened
- Sounds when triggered
- All present and working
- Correct colour (e.g. red for brake lights, pale for reverse lights and headlamps, orange for indicators)
- Correct aim
- Secured to vehicle
- Secured to vehicle at front and back
- Clearly visible on front and back of vehicle
- Numbers and letters clearly legible (standard font used)
Chassis/vehicle identification number (VIN)
- Permanently displayed clearly on any vehicle registered after 1st January 1980
- No more than 1 VIN displayed on vehicle (same VIN can be displayed more than once)
- Satisfactory levels of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide
- Emission control components functioning
- No engine damage
- Catalytic converter fitted
- No leaks or corrosion
- Securely fixed to vehicle
- Correct number of silencers as per make and model requirements
- No leaks
- Fuel cap fastens and seals correctly
- Fuel cap can be opened easily
- No corrosion or damage to fuel tank or fuel pipe
Wipers & washers
- Function properly when triggered to give driver an unobscured view of the road
- Adequate amount of water in screen wash bottle
- Blades correctly sized and not torn
- Washer jets not blocked
Steering & suspension
- Steering wheel secure and in good condition
- No corrosion or damage to springs, shock absorbers or suspension links
- No corrosion or damage (e.g. dents, scratches) to external bodywork or underbody
- No sharp edges on external bodywork or underbody
Wheels & tyres
- Wheels in good condition (no damage or severe buckles)
- Tread depth at least 1.6mm across centre ¾ of tread
- No damage to tyre sidewalls
- Spare tyre could be checked if mounted externally
- Brake pedal and handbrake move freely when deployed
- No leakage from or damage to brake components (e.g. brake pads, master cylinder, brake pipes)
- Safe brake efficiency and balance
- Unobstructed view of the road
- Securely fitted to vehicle
- No chips or scratches within range of windscreen wipers
Common MOT failures
- Lighting & signalling (30% of all faults, 18.4% of all test failures)
- Suspension (18.7% of all faults, 12% of all test failures)
- Brakes (17.2% of all faults, 9.6% of all test failures)
- Tyres (10% of all faults, 7.4% of all test failures)
- Driver’s view of the road (8.5% of all faults, 6.6% of all test failures)
- Fuel & exhaust (5.8% of all faults, 4.3% of all test failures)
38.3% of vehicles fail the initial MOT test. Vehicles which fail the initial MOT test report an average of 3 faults.
Source: Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency
What to do after an MOT
If the vehicle passes
If your vehicle is deemed to have passed its MOT test, you will be given an MOT certificate confirming that your vehicle is officially in a roadworthy condition. The certificate comes in two parts: one of which contains test details (for submission when taxing your vehicle), the other containing an inspection report. You should continue to drive safely and maintain your vehicle’s condition for the duration of the MOT certification.
If the vehicle fails
If your vehicle is deemed to have failed its MOT test, you will be given a document detailing the faults which need to be addressed. You will be able to book a retest for a reduced fee within 21 days of the initial test. If you leave it any later to book, the retest will cost the full price of an initial test.
What scenarios are exempt from MOT testing?
In the vast majority of cases, a vehicle which is less than three years old does not require an MOT, although some vehicles could require an MOT within one year of initial registration.
The following vehicles are fully exempt from MOT testing, provided that you have completed a Declaration of Exemption form and submitted it to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency:
- Track-laying vehicles
- Articulated vehicles other than lorries & buses
- Works trucks
- Vehicles which are driven exclusively on land owned by the vehicle owner whereby no more than 6 miles is driven in a week
- Hackneys/taxis which have been taxed by Transport for London or an authorised local authority
- Vehicles for police purposes
- Electricity-powered goods vehicles
- Non-auxiliary trolley vehicles
- Vehicles authorised for use by a Special Types General Order
- Vehicles driven on UK islands without a suitable connecting bridge/tunnel/etc to mainland UK
- Vehicles manufactured or registered prior to 1st January 1960
Getting an MOT retest
You can book an MOT retest for a fee smaller than that of the initial test fee, provided you book it within 21 days of the initial test. Otherwise, you will be charged the full test amount again.
However, if you bring your vehicle back to the same testing station before the end of the next working day for a partial retest, or if you leave the vehicle at the testing station for repair within 10 working days, no additional fee will be charged.
If the vehicle is removed from the testing station for repair and brought back for a partial retest within 10 working days, you will only need to pay a partial retest fee.
You should note that only one partial retest can be obtained for each full test.
How to appeal an MOT result
If your vehicle fails the MOT test and you believe that the result was incorrect or unfair, you can lodge an appeal to get the result overturned. The steps involved in this process are as follows:
- Obtain a VS17 form from the testing station where the test was carried out, or download it from the UK Government website .
- Complete the form and send it to your local Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) office within 14 days. You must also send your full test fee when lodging the appeal.
- The DVSA will offer you an appointment within 5 working days to get the vehicle rechecked. If it is successful and the result is overturned, the fee (or part thereof) will be returned to you.