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Last updated: 13/09/2021 | Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

A guide to MOTs: Key facts

As you're probably aware, all cars and motorcycles in Great Britain and Northern Ireland require a valid MOT certificate to drive or park on public roads. To be deemed roadworthy a vehicle needs to pass its MOT test once a year, if it's over 3 years old. If your car doesn't meet the MOT requirements you'll have to declare it off-the-road.

In this guide, we’ll answer some commonly asked questions about MOTs, helping you understand what’s required and what’s involved in getting your car tested.

In This Guide:

How long does an MOT take?

The average MOT test in the UK takes anywhere between 45 minutes and an hour. Obviously this average takes into account the fact a large number of vehicles will pass without needing any labour or parts replacing. For this reason, the timing can vary depending on the status of your vehicle. 

A test centre is unable to allow you to drive away if your car has failed to pass its MOT, except if you're taking your car to have the necessary repairs or your existing MOT certificate is still valid. In this instance you need to be prepared to be without a vehicle until the repairs are completed.

Also, many test centres will be too busy to MOT your car straight away, and will ask you to drop the car in the morning so that it is waiting as soon as they are ready to begin the test. This will be discussed with you but in most cases expect the possibility of being without your car for multiple hours, or even the whole day.

How much does an MOT cost?

You can expect to pay between £25 and £50 for an MOT. The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, who control the national pricing structure for MOT's, have currently set the maximum cost of an MOT at an official test centre at £54.85 for cars and caravans, and £29.65 for motorbikes. Many test centres will charge less than this, and the price can vary, so it’s often worth shopping around in your area to find a cheap garage.

How often do I need to get an MOT?

You must get an MOT for your vehicle by either the third anniversary of it's registration, or by the anniversary of it's last MOT, if the vehicle is over 3 years old. If your MOT runs out, you won't be able to drive or park your vehicle on the road so make sure to renew your MOT before the anniversary date, to account for any repairs you may need to make, or to go through the process of declaring it off-the-road if you need to.

Some drivers prefer to match up their MOT with the time of year they renew their car insurance policy, and to renew both at the same time. If you're looking to do this, use our price comparison service to find cheap car insurance options to go alongside your MOT.

When does a new car need an MOT?

Your car is due for it' first MOT three years after vehicle registration. One of the reasons to buy a new car is that you can be assured that it is road safe, and this is reflected in the fact the first 3 years carry no legal requirement for testing.

This isn't to say that nothing can go wrong with a car in the first 3 years, so it's probably a good idea to keep up regular servicing, as this will give you peace of mind and maintain the car's value over time.

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