Classic car MOT

When is a car considered a classic? And if you have a classic car, do you have to pay for an MOT to keep it on the road? Find out what you need to know about MOTs and historic vehicles with our handy guide… 

When is a car considered a classic? And if you have a classic car, do you have to pay for an MOT to keep it on the road? Find out what you need to know about MOTs and historic vehicles with our handy guide… 

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
3
minute read
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Posted 17 DECEMBER 2020

When does a car become MOT exempt?

Any car that’s 40 years old or older doesn’t need an MOT (as long as it hasn’t been materially changed). The government uses the date your vehicle was built or first registered to determine its age.

Previously, only cars registered or built before 1960 were exempt, but the rules changed in May 2018.

Although there’s no strict definition of a historic car, many people use the 40-year criteria to decide whether they describe a vehicle as a classic.

It’s important to remember that most mainstream insurance providers will insure cars built from the 1970s onwards - and at Compare the Market you can compare prices for cars manufactured from 1970 onwards.

Are modified classic cars exempt from an MOT?

Not every car built or first registered at least 40 years ago is eligible for MOT exemption.

Your car will also need to have no ‘substantial changes’ made to it in the past 30 years. Substantial changes include replaced axles or chassis and a new engine.

Some car modifications, including those made to preserve a vehicle or changes to a previously commercial vehicle, could be considered an acceptable alteration.

If you’re unclear whether your vehicle qualifies for an MOT exemption, the government provides detailed substantial changes guidance.

Do I need to apply for a classic car MOT exemption?

No. There’s no application process or forms that need to be completed for an MOT exemption.

Cars aged 40 years or older will also qualify for a tax exemption. You’ll need to apply for the exemption through the Post Office.

Is it dangerous to make classic cars MOT exempt?

Although MOTs test the safety of your vehicle, drivers are responsible for keeping their cars roadworthy.

If you don’t maintain the lights, tyres and other vital parts of your car you could face a fine of up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points on your licence for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

How do I keep my classic car roadworthy?

A few simple but essential checks on fluid levels, tyre tread and other parts of your car will keep it in a roadworthy condition.

Regular servicing will also reduce your chances of breakdown and help identify any problems before they become unsafe.

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