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Getting an MOT for your van

Getting an MOT for your van

If your van is more than three years old then, by law, it will need to pass a yearly Ministry of Transport (MOT) test to determine its vehicle safety, roadworthiness and exhaust emissions. Read our guide to find out more…

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
minute read
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Posted 3 OCTOBER 2019

How do I find out when my MOT is due?

The expiry date of your MOT will be on your MOT certificate. You can get your vehicle retested up to a month (minus a day) before it expires.

For new vans, the first MOT is due by the third anniversary of its registration. So if you bought the vehicle brand new, or bought it second hand within three years of its registration date, you’ll need to confirm that date and book your MOT accordingly.

You can get information about your van’s registration date direct from the DVLA. The registration date is likely to be before the date you bought the vehicle, even if you bought it new.

Your MOT certificate is issued to show that your vehicle has passed its MOT. It’s illegal to drive without a valid certificate, so if you lose your certificate then you can check when your MOT is due on the gov.uk website by entering your van’s registration number. 

Where can I get an MOT and how much does it cost?

You can get an MOT carried out at any MOT-approved garage, test centre or council MOT centre. The blue ‘three triangles’ logo, identifies approved MOT test stations.

A council MOT test centre is open to the public, as well as for council vehicles, so they can be a good alternative to your nearest private garage. You can find your nearest council MOT test centre on your local council's website, or contact your local council directly.  

The MOT test takes around 45 minutes to complete and has a fixed maximum fee, based on the category your vehicle is in. Light vans (under 3,000kg) come under class 4, which has a maximum fee of £54.95.  

If you have a commercial van (3,000kg to 3,500kg), your van will be in category 7, which has a maximum fee of £58.60. Generally, the larger the vehicle the higher the maximum fee. If your MOT highlights any repairs, the cost of these may vary between garages.

Can I drive my van without an MOT?

It’s illegal to drive your van without a valid MOT certificate unless you’re driving to a booked MOT test. There’s no grace period after your MOT elapses, so if you think your renewal date might be coming up it’s best to check. You can get your van tested in the month leading up to your MOT expiry date (except the day before). You’ll also be unable to tax your van without a valid MOT.

What does an MOT test check?

Every van will need the following tested:

  • Lights - headlights, brake lights, indicators and fog lights
  • Steering - strength and condition of the steering wheel
  • Tyres - tread depth, condition of the tyres and if they’re inflated enough
  • Brakes - overall condition of pedals and brake efficiency. The garage will check for any missing brake pads and discs
  • Brake fluid – brake fluid levels will be checked, as well as any signs of contamination
  • Suspension - shock absorbers, any corrosion and wear
    Seat belts and seats – overall condition and functionality
  • Mirrors, wipers and windscreen – any damage to the windscreen and condition of the wiper blades
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VPN) - ensuring the vehicle displays its VPN is important
  • Exhaust - checking for any leaks in the exhaust, fuel system and smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
  • Emissions – as 96% of vans are diesel, the concerns around the environmental impact of diesel are more likely to affect van drivers. Your emissions levels will be checked, as well as your diesel particulate filter (DPF). If this has been tampered with, you’ll be issued with a major fault and your van will fail its MOT.

How are MOT repairs categorised?

Once your garage has checked everything listed above, they’ll record any defects or repairs as advisory, minor, major or dangerous.  

Advisory: this is like a warning. Although your van has been deemed fit to drive, you’ll need to get the defects fixed.  

Minor: this is higher than an advisory, but the faults show 'no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment.’ Again, the technical issues will still need to be addressed.

Major: your van will fail the MOT test and you’ll have to repair your van immediately. A major is given for a defect that 'affects the vehicle’s safety, puts other road users at risk or has an impact on the environment’, such as if there is smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust.

If your van fails its MOT, you’ll only be able to drive it to get it repaired if your existing MOT certificate is still in date and valid. This would be the case if you’ve had the van tested in the month leading up to the expiry date. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until it’s repaired and passed a retest before driving.

Dangerous: this is an automatic fail and it will be illegal to drive your van until it’s repaired. A dangerous is issued for a defect that 'seriously affects the vehicle’s safety, puts other road users at risk or has a serious impact on the environment’, such as very high emissions and evidence that the diesel particulate filter has been tampered with.

In some circumstances, you can have a partial retest once the faults are repaired. For example, if you leave the vehicle at the test centre for repair and it’s retested within 10 working days, you won’t have to pay for a retest.  

If you have the repairs done elsewhere but return to the test centre within 10 working days, you’ll be charged a partial retest fee.

If your van is retested 10 days or more after the original test, then you’ll be charged the full fee again.  

See the government's website for full details of the rules around MOT retests.

Compare van insurance

Making sure your van passes its MOT is only one of the steps you need to take before your van is ready to drive. You’ll need to make sure you have van insurance in place. Why not start today by using our van insurance comparison service to see if you can find the right insurance for you and your van.

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