The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is an annual vehicle safety and road worthiness test which examines road vehicles on a number of criteria to determine whether or not they are safe to be used on public roads.
When is my MOT due?
Your vehicle is first required to undergo an MOT test three years after initial registration (i.e. any vehicles initially registered in 2013 required their first MOT in 2016).
Thereafter, vehicles must undergo an MOT test every year, with the due date determined by its last test (i.e. any vehicles which passed an MOT test in October 2016 are due for another MOT in October 2017).
In some cases, vehicles require their first MOT within one year of initial registration. A list of such vehicles can be found on the UK Government’s website.
For the purposes of MOT testing, vehicles are categorised into certain classifications based upon criteria such as the size and weight of the vehicle, and how many passengers it can carry. Vehicle classifications for MOT tests are as follows: Class 1
Motorbikes (engine size up to 200 cm3)
Motorbikes (engine size up to 200 cm3)
Motorbikes (engine size more than 200 cm3)
Motorbikes with sidecars (engine size more than 200 cm3)
3-wheeled vehicles (up to 450kg unladen weight)
3-wheeled vehicles (more than 450kg unladen weight)
Cars (up to 8 passenger seats)
Quads (max unladen weight 400kg – for goods vehicles 550kg and max net power of 15kw)
Dual purpose vehicles
Private hire and public service vehicles (up to 8 seats)
Ambulances and taxis
Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (9-12 passenger seats)
Goods vehicles (up to 3,000kg design gross weight)
Any class 4 vehicle (9 to 12 passenger seats) with a seat belt installation check
Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (13 or more passenger seats)
Any class 5 vehicle (13 or more passenger seats) with a seat belt installation check
Check that your exhaust isn’t emitting smoke or leaking.
Bring the vehicle registration document, letter of appointment and any current Certificate/Notice of Refusal with you to the MOT test.
What happens during an MOT test?
Show up in good time (at least 10 minutes early) on the day of the test, as per the appointment notice you will have received either in the post, by text or on email. If you cannot make it to the test centre for the appointment, you can ask someone else to present your vehicle for the test.
When you arrive at the test centre, park in the lane specified in your appointment notice. Keep your engine running at normal temperature for the emissions test.
You will be asked to drive your vehicle into the testing hall when the testers are ready.
After the first few checks, the tester will take control of your vehicle and you should go to the test centre’s waiting area. You will be able to see the test being carried out. Passengers and pets are not permitted in the testing hall at any stage.
In rare cases, your vehicle may be chosen for a randomly administered quality control re-check. However, the probability of this happening is low.
A few minutes after the test is finished, you will be informed of your vehicle’s result. You will either get a vehicle test certificate (if passed) or a list of faults which need to be repaired (if failed).
This 2-minute video shows what happens during an MOT test.
What is checked in the MOT test?
Minimum 1 wing/door mirror fitted to your vehicle (most will have 2, with 1 on each side)
Secure to vehicle
Glass in good condition
No dangers such as sharp edges
Internal rear view mirror fitted to windscreen
All doors must open and close
Front doors must open and close from both inside and outside
Securely latch when closed
Hinges aren’t broken or damaged
Door release (e.g. handle) working properly
Secure and in upright position
Front seats securely fixed to vehicle floor (no loose or broken nuts)
Belts in good condition
No damage, tear or fraying
Can be securely fastened and easily unfastened
Sounds when triggered
All present and working
Correct colour (e.g. red for brake lights, pale for reverse lights and headlamps, orange for indicators)
Secured to vehicle
Secured to vehicle at front and back
Clearly visible on front and back of vehicle
Numbers and letters clearly legible (standard font used)
Chassis/vehicle identification number (VIN)
Permanently displayed clearly on any vehicle registered after 1st January 1980
No more than 1 VIN displayed on vehicle (same VIN can be displayed more than once)
Satisfactory levels of carbon dioxide, hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide
Emission control components functioning
No engine damage
Catalytic converter fitted
No leaks or corrosion
Securely fixed to vehicle
Correct number of silencers as per make and model requirements
Fuel cap fastens and seals correctly
Fuel cap can be opened easily
No corrosion or damage to fuel tank or fuel pipe
Wipers & washers
Function properly when triggered to give driver an unobscured view of the road
Adequate amount of water in screen wash bottle
Blades correctly sized and not torn
Washer jets not blocked
Steering & suspension
Steering wheel secure and in good condition
No corrosion or damage to springs, shock absorbers or suspension links
No corrosion or damage (e.g. dents, scratches) to external bodywork or underbody
After your MOT, you will be given documentation based on the outcome of the test.
What to do after an MOT
If the vehicle passes If your vehicle is deemed to have passed its MOT test, you will be given an MOT certificate confirming that your vehicle is officially in a roadworthy condition. The certificate comes in two parts: one of which contains test details (for submission when taxing your vehicle), the other containing an inspection report. You should continue to drive safely and maintain your vehicle’s condition for the duration of the MOT certification.
If the vehicle fails If your vehicle is deemed to have failed its MOT test, you will be given a document detailing the faults which need to be addressed. You will be able to book a retest for a reduced fee within 21 days of the initial test. If you leave it any later to book, the retest will cost the full price of an initial test.
What scenarios are exempt from MOT testing?
In the vast majority of cases, a vehicle which is less than three years old does not require an MOT, although some vehicles could require an MOT within one year of initial registration.
The following vehicles are fully exempt from MOT testing, provided that you have completed a Declaration of Exemption form and submitted it to the Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency:
Articulated vehicles other than lorries & buses
Vehicles which are driven exclusively on land owned by the vehicle owner whereby no more than 6 miles is driven in a week
Hackneys/taxis which have been taxed by Transport for London or an authorised local authority
Vehicles for police purposes
Electricity-powered goods vehicles
Non-auxiliary trolley vehicles
Vehicles authorised for use by a Special Types General Order
Vehicles driven on UK islands without a suitable connecting bridge/tunnel/etc to mainland UK
Vehicles manufactured or registered prior to 1st January 1960
Getting an MOT retest
You can book an MOT retest for a fee smaller than that of the initial test fee, provided you book it within 21 days of the initial test. Otherwise, you will be charged the full test amount again.
However, if you bring your vehicle back to the same testing station before the end of the next working day for a partial retest, or if you leave the vehicle at the testing station for repair within 10 working days, no additional fee will be charged.
If the vehicle is removed from the testing station for repair and brought back for a partial retest within 10 working days, you will only need to pay a partial retest fee.
You should note that only one partial retest can be obtained for each full test.
How to appeal an MOT result
If your vehicle fails the MOT test and you believe that the result was incorrect or unfair, you can lodge an appeal to get the result overturned. The steps involved in this process are as follows: