A Guide to MOTs
A valid MOT certificate is a legal requirement, proving that your car is in good working order.
In this guide we’ll go through the ins and outs of MOTs, telling you what’s involved in the test itself, what to do if your car fails, and perhaps most importantly, how much the whole process will cost.
What is an MOT test and how do I know if I need one?
A Ministry of Transport test (MOT) is a test of your car’s basic capabilities, during which personnel at a garage checking the various parts to make sure that your vehicle is road worthy, as well as meeting various standards of environmental safety.
In order to tax your car, you’ll need a valid MOT certificate for it, and since you cannot legally drive an untaxed vehicle, a valid MOT becomes legally necessary if you want to take your car out on the road.
A car will need to undergo a new MOT test every year once it turns three years old, regardless of its apparent condition.
What does the test involve?
Over the course of around 45 minutes, the garage will go through various parts of your car, checking for general functionality.
This will include checking that the brakes, suspension and all lights are working properly, as well as checking the windows, windscreen and general bodywork (including the petrol cap) for any significant damage. They will also examine your tyres to make sure you are using the correct type.
As of 2012, new regulations based on the increasing technological complexity of modern vehicles meant that the passing criteria for an MOT changed slightly to encompass more aspects of the car including power steering and electronic stability control amongst other things.
Note that any purely aesthetic damage to your car will not affect your MOT.
What if my car fails its MOT test?
If your car fails its MOT then, provided you have the necessary repairs carried out at the garage where the test took place, you will be entitled to a free re-test within 10 working days.
The regulations vary slightly depending on the nature of the establishment where you get your car tested, but in almost every case you will be entitled to a free re-test.
The repairs however will not be free and it is worth taking care to make sure, if you have the test done at a private garage, that you don’t get charged over the odds for repairs that may not even be necessary.
How much does an MOT test cost?
The cost of an MOT test will depend, up to a point, on the garage you visit.
There is an upper limit, set by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), which currently stands at:
£54.85 for cars, and
£29.65 for motorbikes
Your local council will have an MOT testing centre that, while technically only used for council vehicles, are obliged to be open to the public as well. These council testing centres often charge a little more than private garages, but are far less likely to try and swindle you for unnecessary repairs.
Even if you get charged the full amount, remember that you can still offset this expense by using our car insurance comparison service to save you far more than the £54.85 you might have spent on your MOT.