A simples guide

What is an MOT?

The MOT is the legally required annual inspection made of cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles to ensure road worthiness. Vehicles more than three years old are required to be submitted for testing at an authorised MOT centre.

The centre will then carry our various tests and if the vehicle passes all aspects, you’ll receive an MOT certificate valid for 12 months.

It is illegal to drive on UK roads without a valid MOT unless you are on the way to a pre-booked MOT inspection. You’ll also find that proof of your MOT is required when you buy your car tax.

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What is checked during an MOT?

The MOT is a comprehensive check and includes the following checks:

  • Body & Structure – Check that the body of the vehicle is free from excessive corrosion and damage in specific areas and that there are no sharp edges likely to cause injury.
  • Fuel System - Ensure there are no leaks and that the fuel cap fastens and seals securely.
  • Exhaust Emissions - Check that the vehicle meets the requirements for exhaust emissions, dependent on the age and fuel type for your particular vehicle.
  • Exhaust System - Ensure that the exhaust system is secure, complete and without serious leaks and that it silences effectively.
  • Seat Belts - All belts front and back are checked for condition, operation and security. All compulsory seat belts must be in place.
front of car
car wheel

What else is checked during an MOT?

  • Seats - The front seats must be secure. Front and rear backseats must be able to be secured in the upright position.
  • Doors – All doors must close securely. Front doors should open from inside and outside the vehicle.
  • Mirrors – Checks are made to ensure that the minimum numbers are on the vehicle, their condition and that they’re secure.
  • Brakes – Brake operation and performance will be tested.
  • Tyres - The condition and security of the tyres will be checked including that they’re the right size, type and have sufficient tread.
  • Number Plates - Check the condition, security, and that characters correctly formed and spaced.
  • Lights – Lights are checked for condition, operation and security. Headlamps for also tested for their aim.
  • Washers & Wipers – Checked that they operate properly and leave a clear view of the road ahead.
  • Wind Screen Its condition is checked and that and chips are below 10mm in size in the drivers’ line of vision and 40mm elsewhere.
  • Horn - Operates correctly and is of a suitable type.
  • Suspension and Steering - Are of a satisfactory condition and operate properly.
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) - For vehicles registered on or after the 1 August 1980, the VIN must be checked against the registration.

When do you need an MOT?

All vehicles aged 3 years or more are required to have a valid MOT test certificate.

If you have brought your car new, the MOT is due on that 3rd anniversary of the car purchase. If you buy a car second hand, check on the MOT certificate for when its next check is due. It is your responsibility to ensure that it is checked annually.

You can have your vehicle MOT tested up to 28 days in advance of the MOT expiry date without losing any days on your certificate. Put simply, if the MOT is due on the 30th April and you have your car tested on the 15th April, your MOT will run for another year until the 30th April again.

What happens if a car fails its MOT, or the MOT has expired?

If your vehicle fails a test you can take it away if your MOT certificate is still valid in order to get faults rectified.

If your MOT has run out you can take your vehicle to:

  • have the failed defects fixed
  • a pre-arranged MOT test appointment

Driving without a valid MOT other than in these circumstances is illegal and will also invalidate your car insurance.

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