Last updated: 23/07/2020
If you own a car, you’ll know that all vehicles over three years of age on British roads must be subject to an annual test of their safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions.
The MOT test works much the same for vans as it does for cars. The vehicle will undergo a battery of tests, of everything from its horn to its steering, and if everything is in working order, will be issued an MOT certificate. If the van fails, you’ll need to make repairs to bring it up to code.
If you drive a van without a valid MOT, you can face a fine of up to £1,000 and invalidate your van insurance policy, which can be even more costly.
In This Guide:
- How do you get a van MOT?
- What is checked in a van MOT?
- What happens if your van fails its MOT?
- What is the penalty for driving a van without a valid MOT?
- Top reasons vans fail their first MOT
How do you get a van MOT?
MOT tests are conducted at more than 20,000 car repair garages across the UK, each authorised by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to provide MOT testing for certain classes of vehicles. Vans fall within classes 4, 5, or 7. In some cases, you’ll need to seek out a specialised van MOT testing centre.
The cost of an MOT inspection for a van ranges from £54.85 to £124.50, depending on the class of vehicle and if it needs to have its seatbelt installation checked (this applies to older vans with more than eight passenger seats).
The MOT test takes between 45 minutes and an hour, during which the van is checked by a DVSA accredited tester to ensure it’s roadworthy. If the vehicle passes the test then you will be issued a certificate and also generally given a list of ‘advisory’ items that may require attention in the future, so you can keep an eye on them.
Once your vehicle hits three years of age, you’ll need to have it MOT tested annually. You can find the expiry date of your MOT on your existing MOT certificate. You can have your MOT tested up to 28 days in advance of this date.
What is checked in a van MOT?
- Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): that it’s present and legible
- Registration plates: the condition, security, legibility and format, which must abide by regulations and not have been altered
- Lights: their condition, operation, security and colour; aim of the headlamp
- Steering and suspension: that they are secure and operate correctly
- Wipers and washer bottle: that they operate correctly and give the driver a clear view of the road
- Windscreen: that no chips or cracks compromise visibility. The maximum allowable damage size is 10mm in the driver's line of vision or 40mm elsewhere on the screen.
- Horn: that it’s audible by other road users and that the sound is uniform
- Seatbelts: that all required seatbelts exist and are secure and functioning
- Seats: that the front seats are secure
- Fuel system: that there are no leaks and that the fuel cap seals and fastens securely
- Exhaust and emissions: that exhaust emissions are within guidelines; that the exhaust noise isn’t too loud; that there aren't any leaks in the exhaust system
- Bodywork: that there’s no excessive corrosion or damage; that there are no sharp edges
- Doors: that they open and close correctly and latch securely
- Mirrors: that they provide an adequate view to the rear from the driver’s seat
- Wheels and tyres: that they're in good condition, secure, and the appropriate size and with the right tread depth
- Brakes: tested on a roller brake tester to ensure they’re performing correctly
What happens if your van fails its MOT?
A significant portion of vans fail their MOT tests. According to data from the DVSA, 25% of vans will fail their first MOT test at three years, most commonly for issues with lighting, brakes, and tyres. Vans are more likely than cars to fail MOT tests, mainly because they are driven further than cars and worked harder. At three years of age, vans have been driven an average of 47,000 miles, while cars have an average of just 26,000 miles on their odometer.
If your van fails, you will be given a refusal of MOT certificate. Your vehicle must then be repaired and retested. The testing centre is not allowed to let you drive away with a vehicle that has failed an MOT unless the problems are fixed, or you are driving it to have those faults repaired at another repair shop.
What is the penalty for driving a van without a valid MOT?
If your van doesn’t have a valid, in date MOT certificate, you won’t be able to legally drive it, except to a pre-booked appointment at an MOT testing centre. You also won’t be able to renew your road tax. If you’re caught driving without a valid MOT, you can face a fine of up to £1,000. Police and mobile camera units have access to computerised MOT data from the DVSA and can remotely check if your vehicle has a valid certificate.
Additionally, your van insurance policy can be invalidated if you’re found to be driving without a valid MOT. You’ll usually be required to present your MOT in the event of an accident and insurance companies can reject claims, especially for accidents involving injuries, if you can’t do so, leaving you liable for costs.
Top reasons vans fail their first MOT
- Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment: 36,660 annual failures
- Driver’s view of the road: 14,056 annual failures
- Brakes: 13,190 annual failures
- Tyres: 10,605 annual failures
- Suspension: 6551 annual failures