MOT and Vehicle Testing – The Complete Guide
To be entitled to legally drive a road vehicle within the UK, it needs to be officially deemed ‘road safe’. This means that a number of essential checks and measures need to be brought in to ensure that your car or van is safe to use both for you and your passengers – as well as other road users. An MOT test, undertaken regularly at a vehicle testing centre, will ensure that your car is up to full health and is declared safe for use on UK roads. Getting an MOT check isn’t as complex as it may seem – and there are many occasions when cars pass these tests with flying colours. This is our guide to everything you need to know about the DVLA MOT check – and what a vehicle testing facility or garage will do for you to ensure that you are safe to take to the road.
How to Check When MOT Check is Due
The DVLA, based in Swansea, is responsible for retaining all legal documents and registrations based on cars and vehicles using UK roads. Therefore, they can be relied upon to provide you with information on when your next MOT is due. If you have bought a new car, you are required to book in for an MOT car check by its third anniversary of last having one. The DVLA offers a handy online MOT lookup service, which you can use to track when your car will be next due to undergo a full MOT service.
Get a Car’s MOT history
If you’ve recently bought a car – whether from a deal or through a private sale – you may wish to know how it has performed in previous MOT checks, and when you are next due to submit your vehicle for an MOT inspection. Once again, the DVLA provides a wealth of useful information on MOT results from 2005 onwards – though details are only available for England, Wales and Scotland, meaning that Northern Ireland is not covered at this time. Simply make sure you have your car’s make and number plate registration to hand, and use the DVLA’s online MOT history checker to get all the information you need. This is very useful in finding out whether or not an MOT certificate you have received is legitimate or not – and it is highly recommended that you undertake such checks to avoid any wrongful repercussions.
Who Enforces MOT Checks?
MOT service requirements are enshrined in law and are therefore overseen by the DVLA in Swansea, who act on behalf of the government to ensure that all UK road vehicles are safely registered and kept up to date. MOT requirements are carried out by independent and chain facilities up and down the country, from local garages to high street names.
What is Checked in an MOT?
Many people may assume that a car MOT check simply covers the safety issues that a vehicle faces – however, it is also all about making sure that your vehicle adheres to all legal guidelines before reaching public roads. The following features of your car are looked into at a vehicle testing station during an MOT test:
- Tyre and wheel condition
- Lights condition and aim
- Brake system
- Door condition and seatbelts (rear and front)
- Mirror security and condition
- Windscreen condition and safety
- Vehicle emissions and safety
- Windscreen wipers
- Shell and body work
- Front seating
- Suspension quality
- Horn functionality
- Fuel cap and system
- Washer bottle
- Vehicle registration and ID – including plates
Getting Your MOT
It’s important to keep an eye on when your vehicle is due an MOT service for reasons we have listed above. The DVLA advises that you apply for an MOT booking by the third year of a car’s registration, or by each MOT anniversary should your car or vehicle be over three years old. It’s important that you MOT a car or at least book in for a car MOT check at least a month ahead of its anniversary.
You can get your MOT check performed at an authorised centre – of which there are many up and down the country. The process is slightly different in Northern Ireland.
What Does a Car MOT Cost?
MOT fees will vary from one vehicle testing centre to another – however, the DVLA has imposed maximum fees which apply depending upon the type of vehicle you run. You can expect to pay up to a maximum of £54.85 if you are applying for a car MOT check, whereas you’ll expect to pay no more than £29.65 on motorcycles (as standard, though engine sizes and sidecars will vary). These fees are exempt from VAT, though additional costs will of course apply if you need to make any changes to your vehicle to keep in line with recommendations made during your MOT service.
MOT Failures – What They Mean
Your car or vehicle will fail its MOT if there are a number of factors that are in need of fixing or replacement. Failures will be recorded in the MOT database and you’ll need to bring your car up to code to receive a new MOT certificate in future. If you have a current, valid certificate, however, you will still be entitled to drive it as you are effectively covered.
However, to be able to pass your MOT test in future, you must attend to any issues that are raised in the report – and you must make sure that your car is considered road worthy to avoid incurring fines or even points on your driving licence. Points, as all drivers should know, could add up to your suspension from driving – therefore, it is hardly worth risking them.
What Happens if You Have No MOT
Driving without valid MOT documents or without having complied by the DVLA’s MOT service requirements may result in you receiving an MOT fine or penalty – meaning that you could be on the receiving end of a reprimand if you do not make sure that your road vehicle is up to scratch. You may face an MOT penalty of up to £1000 – and it’s important to understand, too, that an MOT check is no blank slate for you to drive your vehicle in a dangerous condition. If, for example, you continue to drive your car using illegal components or unsafe tyres, steering etc, you will likely face higher fines of up to £5000 if a court deems you having driven a car that is unsafe to use on the road. It’s therefore important to ensure that your vehicle is completely up to code as well as MOT ready before putting your foot down.
Replacing an MOT Certificate
There may be an occasion where you lose or damage your existing MOT certificate – meaning that you may request a replacement record of MOT results from your applicable MOT centre. These replacements generally cost £10 or half of what the centre charges for a full MOT service – and you’ll be expected to pay the lower amount.
Appealing a Decision
It’s advised that you get in touch with the DVSA (Driver Vehicle Standards Agency) if you feel that your vehicle should have passed its MOT but instead received a notification of failure. Under these circumstances, you should fill in and return this complaint form – but make sure you do so within 14 business days of having taken the test. You may need to have your car undergo a further MOT check – but the DVSA will be in touch with you within five business days to discuss the outcome of your appeal come what may.
If you are unhappy with the service you have received, you may make a complaint by calling the DVSA on 0843 903 3770 – which is open for contact between 7:30am and 6pm Monday to Friday. This is a call connection service, calls cost 7p per minute plus your operator’s access charge. We are not associated with the DVLA. It is advised that you contact your MOT centre and whomever was responsible for undergoing checks before you take on further work yourself.
Where to Get an MOT
There are thousands of vehicle testing centres, garages and MOT centres up and down the country – from independent sources to chains such as Kwik Fit. Fees for MOT testing will vary from centre to centre, but it is important that you are given assurance that the centre you opt for is fully certified to undertake all the MOT inspection requirements laid out by the DVLA and DVSA. There is a handy third-party MOT centre locator available here – where you can easily find your nearest source of MOT support.
How much does average MOT Cost?
MOT fees will generally be set at an MOT centre’s discretion – though they will not be able to charge you more than £54.85 for a car MOT check. For motorcycles, you’ll be expected to pay no more than £29.65.
Are there any vehicles exempt from an MOT?
If your car is less than three years old, you won’t be legally required to have an MOT service until the third anniversary of its registration. Otherwise, you will generally expect to go in for an MOT check once every year – and you will need to remember to book in at least a month ahead of time.
Some vehicles of a certain age may not have to undergo MOT checks at all – those that run on electricity and those manufactured before 1960 will generally be considered exempt. Tractors, too, require no MOT checks. There is a full list of vehicles and cars not covered available here.
How do I complain about an MOT?
It’s recommended that you get in touch with the DVSA. You can call the DVSA contact number listed on our site or by visiting the official website. You can also fill out a form to send to the DVSA via email or post. Download the form here, before filling in and sending via email to [email protected], or posting to the following address:
When will my MOT expire?
You are required to submit your car for an MOT check every year – meaning that you must keep this date in mind to be able to attend to an annual renewal and MOT service. If your car is less than three years old, you have until it reaches this age to apply for your first MOT check.
The DVSA is responsible for handling queries regarding MOT requirements and any questions that motorists may have when it comes to arranging for a valid certificate to ensure that they can take to the road. You can call them or write to them directly at the following address if you are in need of any specific advice, or if you need to make a formal complaint.