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Classic car MOT

At what point is a car considered a classic? And if you own a classic car, do you have to pay for an MOT to keep it on the road? Here’s everything you need to know about MOTs and older vehicles. 

At what point is a car considered a classic? And if you own a classic car, do you have to pay for an MOT to keep it on the road? Here’s everything you need to know about MOTs and older vehicles. 

Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance expert
Reviewed by
Rory Reid
Car and technology expert
Last Updated
26 AUGUST 2022
3 min read
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When does a car become MOT exempt?

Any car that’s more than 40 years old doesn’t need an MOT (as long as it hasn’t been materially changed). 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 consider 40 to be the age when a car becomes a classic.

Do modified classic cars need to have an MOT?

Not every car built or first registered at least 40 years ago is exempt from its MOT.

Your car needs to have avoided ‘substantial changes’ over the past 30 years. Substantial changes include altering the suspension or steering, or replacing the engine.

Some modifications, including those made to preserve a car, or changes to a previously commercial vehicle are considered okay.

If you’re not sure if your car qualifies for an MOT exemption, you can check the government’s guidance.

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

You don’t need to go through an application process or fill in any forms to exempt your car from its MOT.

Is it dangerous to make classic cars MOT exempt?

MOTs are there to make sure cars are roadworthy, so it follows that making certain cars exempt will lead to having risky cars on the road. However, drivers are still responsible for making sure their cars are 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. For driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition, you could also receive three penalty points on your licence or even be banned from driving.

How do I keep my classic car roadworthy?

You should have your car regularly serviced. This will help identify any issues before they become a safety risk. It will also mean that you’re less likely to break down.

Make sure you regularly check your car’s fluid levels, tyre tread and other parts to keep it in a roadworthy condition.

Even if your car is exempt, you might want to book it in for an MOT anyway, for your own peace of mind.

Frequently asked questions

How do I check how old my car is?

If you don’t have the information in your V5C log book, the DVLA should be able to tell you how old your car is. You can also find free online car valuation services that could determine your car’s age from its registration number.

Do classic vans or motorcycles need an MOT?

Classic vans and motorcycles are also MOT-exempt, which means that they won’t need one if they’re over 40 years old.

Do I have to pay road tax on classic cars?

Cars over 40 years old also qualify for a road tax exemption. You can apply for this at the Post Office.

Can I insure my classic car?

Most mainstream insurance providers will insure cars built from the 1970s onwards – and at Compare the Market you can compare prices for cars made after 1970.

If your car is older than that, you may need to look into specialist classic car insurance.

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Julie Daniels - motor insurance comparison expert

Julie is passionate about delivering a great customer experience and rewarding people for saving on their insurance through our loyalty and rewards programme. She’s spoken to the media, including outlets like Sky News and Capital FM, about car and home insurance, as well as our rewards scheme.

Learn more about Julie

Rory Reid - car and technology expert

Rory Reid is a car and technology expert. He serves as the main presenter on Auto Trader’s YouTube channel and was previously a host on BBC Top Gear and its sister show Extra Gear. He is also a presenter on Fifth Gear. Previously, he hosted Sky TV’s Gadget Geeks, CNET’s Car Tech channel, BBC Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition and on the YouTube channel Fast, Furious & Funny.

Learn more about Rory

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