MOT test

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The name alone can drive fear into the hearts of inexperienced motorists. Wondering if your dodgy old Fiat Punto will pass its MOT can be stressful.

However, Don’t be afraid of MOT’s in fact, they’re vital for keeping you and everything else on the road safe.

An MOT makes sure that your car is safe to drive – most reputable garages aren’t trying to catch you out.

We’re going to run through what an MOT Test is, and some factors you should consider.

What’s the purpose of an MOT test?

The MOT test is a road safety measure to ensure that all vehicles more than three years old comply with the law and meet road safety and environmental standards.

The test confirms that at the time it was taken, the vehicle met the minimum standards. It doesn’t mean the car is roadworthy for the length of time the MOT is valid.

It doesn’t cover the condition of the engine, clutch, and gearbox – so it’s not a replacement for an annual service!

You can have an MOT carried out on your vehicle at any time, but if it is taken more than a calendar month before the expiry of your current certificate, the new certificate will be valid for 12 months from the test date.

The MOT test centre sign

What should I check before my test?

Vehicles can fail for annoyingly simple reasons, and it can be infuriating to not pass due to such a minor issue!

Save yourself the hassle and do a pre-check. Check your:

  • Windscreen: confirm there aren’t any significant chips or cracks that could affect your vision.
  • Windscreen washer bottle: check it’s full.
  • Seatbelts: make sure they work correctly, and there is no damage to them.
  • Tyres: Make sure your tyres are at the right pressure. Don’t forget the tyres should be a minimum tread of 1.6 mm to be legal.
  • Light bulbs: casings should be free of damage or cracks. Check all lights work, including indicators, fog lights and number plate lights.

10 Million

Just over 10 million cars failed the MOT test in the year from May 2018.

Source: This is Money, 2019

How much does an MOT cost?

The government has put in place a maximum MOT test amount of £54.85. However, this is the maximum, and you’ll likely find garages offering you cheaper tests.

You must choose a reliable garage. A good option is to head to WhoCanFixMyCar, which will show you local garages and their reliability reviews (as well as their prices upfront). You can book your MOT test through the site.

If you want to find a garage yourself, make sure that you go with an approved MOT test centre. These centres will have a blue sign with three white triangles, showing they’re DVLA authorised to carry out MOT tests.

You can put your car in for an MOT up to one month before the current MOT expires – assuming you have the current and valid MOT Certificate

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What happens if my car passes?

Happy days!

If your car passes the MOT, you’ll receive a new VT20 MOT certificate valid for another year. The document will also detail any recommended advisory work, which is a potential problem that was not bad enough to result in a test failure.

What happens if my car fails?

Don’t fret –a third quite a high number of cars fail their MOT tests.

If your vehicle fails the MOT test, it’ll receive a VT3O Certificate. There are two types of failure:

  • Dangerous faults
  • Major faults

Dangerous faults: You cannot legally drive the car away from the garage until fixed. You’ll have to get the repair sorted there and then. Of course, if you’re unhappy with the garage, you can pay to have it towed to another one, although this is almost always not worth the price.

Major fault: You can continue to drive the vehicle with a Major failure if your old MOT is still valid because you took your car in for an MOT early. But your car does have faults that may make it unroadworthy, and if stopped by the police, you could be in trouble.