Getting an MOT for your van

Regular MOTs are an essential part of owning and running a van safely. Find out how to check your MOT status and read our top tips on preparing your van for the test. We also share the latest advice on what to do if it fails its MOT, so that you can avoid paying a hefty fine.

Regular MOTs are an essential part of owning and running a van safely. Find out how to check your MOT status and read our top tips on preparing your van for the test. We also share the latest advice on what to do if it fails its MOT, so that you can avoid paying a hefty fine.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
8
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 24 AUGUST 2021

Why do I need to get an MOT for my van?

It’s illegal to drive your van without a valid MOT (Ministry of Transport) certificate, unless you’re on your way to a booked MOT test or you’re taking it to be repaired. If neither of these apply, you could be fined up to £1,000.

Without a valid MOT, you won’t be able to tax your van and your insurance may be invalidated, so making sure your it’s up to date is a must-do.

How do I know whether my van has a valid MOT?

Visit gov.uk to check your van’s MOT history.

You’ll be able to find out:

  • how many tests your van has passed or failed
  • the mileage when it was tested
  • where each test was done
  • which parts failed at each test.

To log in, you’ll need:

  • your registration number
  • the 11-digit number from the vehicle’s log book (V5C).

How do I find out when my MOT is due?

Checking your van’s MOT history at gov.uk will tell you when the next test is due or, if you have the current MOT certificate, you’ll find the MOT expiry date on there too.

For new vans, the first MOT is due by the third anniversary of its registration. If your van was bought second-hand and it’s more than three years old, it will need to be done on the anniversary of its last MOT.

And remember, 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 at any time during the month leading up to your MOT expiry date (but not the day before). You don’t lose any days for taking your van in at the start of the month. If your MOT expires on 20 June, the new certificate will still be valid until 20 June the following year.

Where can I get a van MOT near me?

The test can be carried out at any MOT-approved garage, test centre or council MOT centre. You can identify them by the blue ‘three triangles’ logo.

You’ll find your nearest council MOT test centre on your local council's website or you can contact your local council directly.

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 could also try motcheck.net which allows you to search for MOT test centres and garages by postcode.

It’s worth asking whether your chosen venue offers a free MOT reminder service. Some do, and it will save you the hassle of remembering when the next test is due. Or you can book a reminder at gov.uk.

How much does a van MOT cost?

The government sets a fixed maximum fee for MOTs, based on the category your vehicle falls into.

Light vans or goods vehicles (under 3,000kg) come under class 4, which has a maximum MOT fee of £54.85.

If you have a commercial van (3,000kg to 3,500kg), it will be in category 7, which has a maximum fee of £58.60. Generally, the larger the vehicle, the higher the maximum fee.

Some garages will charge less than this, banking on the possibility that your van will need repairs, which will help them make up the difference.

The cost of getting any problems fixed will vary depending on the garage you’re using.

If a retest is needed and carried out within 10 days, it’s likely to be free. Beyond that initial 10-day period, you may have to pay some or all of the cost of a full MOT.

How to prepare your van for an MOT

There’s a range of checks done as part of your van MOT and some are very basic.

With the latter in mind, it can save you time and money to check the van yourself before you take it in, to prevent a failed MOT that could have been avoided.

Although you won’t be able to do much about faulty brakes or sub-par steering, if you know they’re not up to scratch, you can flag up the problem and make sure it gets looked at in a pre-MOT service.

The key areas to focus on include:

  • Lights – check exterior lights are working and crack-free, including headlights (dipped and main beam), front and rear side lights, brake lights, indicators, front and rear fog lights and number plate lights. Look for bulbs that might need replacing.
  • Steering – the steering wheel shouldn’t be loose or turn awkwardly. Listen for knocking or whining sounds when you turn it to full lock and back again.
  • Tyres – underinflated tyres may be marked as a defect, so as well as looking for wear and tear, check the pressure. You should also make sure all the bolts are in place and tightened up. The legal tyre tread depth for vans is 1.6mm. You can check it with a tyre tread gauge or by using a 20p coin, as the outer edge of the coin is about 2mm. Opposite tyres should be the same axle size and construction type – and don’t forget to check the spare tyre too.
  • Brakes – look for warning lights, wear and tear on the foot brake and, if you’ve got anti-lock brakes, the ABS warning light needs to be working. The handbrake also needs to hold firm, even on a steep hill.
  • Brake fluid – check the brake fluid for contamination and to make sure it doesn’t need topping up. The level should be between minimum and maximum.
  • Other fluids – fluid leaks are seen as an environmental risk, so check under your van.
  • Horn – is it working? And remember, novelty horns aren’t allowed.
  • Shock absorbers – push down on each corner of the vehicle. It if bounces back more than one and a half times, the shock absorbers may be wearing out.
  • Windscreen wipers – check the rubber blades. If they’re worn out, they’re easy to replace.
  • Windscreen – check for cracks and chips. The area covered by the wipers should be entirely damage-free. And top up the windscreen wash too.
  • Mirrors – should be secure and the glass in good condition.
  • Seat belts – the inertia reel should lock when you pull sharply on the belt. Also check the belts for fraying or cuts.
  • Bodywork – look out for any sharp edges and rust, particularly around parts of the van relating to safety, like the brakes.
  • Doors, bonnet and tailgate – they should open easily from inside and outside the van, and shut securely.
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) – also known as the chassis number. This should be displayed and legible on the base of the windscreen or under the bonnet. You’ll also find the VIN on the V5 registration document.
  • Exhaust – check for any leaks in the exhaust, fuel system and smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust.
  • Emissions – at the end of 2019, 96% of vans were diesel, so the issue of environmental impact is particularly relevant to van drivers. Legal limits depend on the age of the vehicle. 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?

Your garage will record any defects under three main categories: minor, major or dangerous.

These categories have legal implications, so the defects covered by them need to be addressed.

Minor: the faults show 'no significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or impact on the environment’, but the technical issues need to be addressed as soon as possible. Minor faults won’t result in a failed MOT.

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’, for example smoke coming from the exhaust.

Dangerous: this is an automatic MOT fail and it’s illegal to drive your van until it’s repaired. A dangerous rating 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.

What happens if my van fails its MOT?

If your van fails its MOT, you’ll be given an MOT refusal certificate known as a VT30. This includes details of why it failed and what you need to do to get it back on the road. Your van will also be recorded as not roadworthy on the MOT digital database.

If you have a major fault and the car is still roadworthy, you can drive it to be repaired. If the defect is dangerous, you can’t drive it and could get three points on your licence, be banned from driving and receive a fine of £2,500 if you do.

This doesn’t mean you have to have repairs done by the garage that carried out the MOT. You can arrange for another garage to collect it from the premises – or, even better, book a service for your van before you have the MOT to avoid the potential of paying over the odds if any defects are found.

Compare van insurance

As well as having an up-to-date MOT for your van, you also need van insurance to keep it on the road. Use our van insurance comparison service to find the best deal for you, whether you’re looking for private van insurance, courier van insurance, business van insurance or you have a pick-up van you need to cover.

Looking for a quote?

Compare van insurance in minutes to see if you can save

Get a quote
Ready to hit the road? Compare prices now Get a quote