MOT Check & Certificate when buying a used car

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The MOT test certificate
Car ownership gives you a great sense of freedom – you can drive where you want, whenever you fancy.

However, it’s not all fun and games. One of the most important responsibilities of car ownership is taking your car for an MOT test.

The MOT test needs to be completed annually (on cars over three years old) and exist to make sure that the vehicle is safe to be on the road.

When you take your car for an MOT test, you’ll receive an MOT certificate. This will detail whether your vehicle has passed or failed and will let you know any issues the car has.

If your car fails the test, you’ll receive details of what made it fail. You’ll then have an opportunity to have these faults repaired to retake and pass the test.

Here’s a quick rundown on all you need to know about a car MOT test.

Get an MOT test check before you buy the car!

If you’re looking to buy a car, make sure you check that the current MOT certificate is genuine. Thankfully, it’s a breeze to do this – simple use this free MOT check from the DVLA. All you need is the car’s registration (number plate) and make (manufacturer).

The DVLA check digitally stores all of a vehicles MOT certificates, so you can compare it against what your dealer or seller is showing you.

An MOT certificate will contain the following information:

Vehicle details

  • Make
  • Model
  • Date first used
  • Fuel type
  • Colour

MOT test history

  • Test date
  • Expiry date
  • Test Result
  • Odometer reading
  • MOT test number
  • Advisory notice item(s)

If anything on the MOT certificate doesn’t match something on the car, make sure to question the dealer and back out if you don’t feel comfortable.

For instance, a seller might advertise that their car has 25,000 miles, but the last MOT test certificate states that the car was at 50,000! Sift through it for any inconsistencies.

Hey did you know?

Every vehicle that is three-years-old or over must have a current MOT test certificate and you must renew this once a year.

What’s the purpose of the MOT certificate?

Basically, it verifies that the car has passed its MOT test. Without a certificate confirming that your vehicle has passed, you can’t:

  • Drive on the road legally
  • Get car insurance
  • Road tax your car

The MOT certificate confirms at the time of the car’s MOT test; the vehicle met the required road safety and environmental standards set by the DVSA.

Passing the car MOT test does not mean the vehicle will remain roadworthy for the period of the pass certificate, so if there are any obvious repair issues, don’t just wait until your next MOT test due date.

It’s your responsibility to make sure your car is safe to drive, and you could face criminal offences if you drive an un-roadworthy vehicle.


An MOT pass just means a car is roadworthy. It doesn’t necessarily mean the vehicle is in good mechanical condition!

I’ve lost my MOT certificate!

Once upon a time, you had to head to an MOT test centre for a paper replacement. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. If you need a replacement certificate, or simply want to view your MOT details, just head to the DVLA website for a replacement MOT certificate.

I’m not using my car – do I need a current MOT?

If you are not using your car and want to avoid paying insurance and road tax and the MOT has run out! You can take the vehicle off the road this is called declaring your car as SORN (Statutory Off-Road Notification). You can’t drive it again until it’s taxed, insured, and has passed the MOT test.

Who checks the MOT Certificate when buying a used car on finance?

When purchasing a used car on a car finance deal with a reputable UK broker, it’s essential not to lose sight of the all-important MOT certificate. A check of this document forms part of the process that brokers perform before you receive the keys.

The MOT certificate confirms that the car is roadworthy and safe for you and others. But it’s not just the finance broker’s responsibility to check the MOT status. As the driver-in-waiting, it’s also a savvy move for you to check the MOT status independently. And with DVLA’s online MOT history check tool, you can do this quickly and easily.

After all, when choosing to finance a used car, you’re not just buying a set of wheels. You’re investing in peace of mind. That’s why at Autedia, we support informed decision-making, encouraging customers to understand every step of the used car finance journey.

Remember, UK car finance lenders’ terms and conditions can differ, so understanding them can ensure your used car finance deal matches your expectations and needs.