Questions we answer in this guide:
- When do you need an MOT and what are the penalties for failing to certify your vehicle?
- What does the MOT test involve?
- Can you disagree with the result of an MOT?
- Is your vehicle exempt from the MOT test requirement?
Most vehicles will need to be certified as roadworthy if they're to be taken out on the road or in other public spaces. This certification is known as a Ministry of Transport test, commonly referred to as an MOT.
There are some vehicles that are exempt from this legal requirement – which we’ll get in to in a bit more detail later – but, unless your vehicle is very new or very old, the chances are you'll need to have it tested.
Then, assuming your vehicle meets the minimum environmental and safety standards required, it'll be given a certificate showing it's roadworthy.
NB. The MOT certificate doesn't guarantee the mechanical condition of a vehicle. Just because a vehicle passes its MOT, it doesn't mean that the vehicle is guaranteed to be roadworthy for the life of the certificate.
When do I need an MOT test?
Most vehicles are required to have an MOT once they're 3 years old (i.e. 3 years from the date of registration). After that, owners are required to take them for a test annually.
Taxis and other private passenger vehicles with 9 seats or more will have to be tested once they're 1 year old.
Penalties for driving without an MOT
If you’re stopped by the police while driving a vehicle without an MOT certificate, you may be given a fixed penalty notice (FPN) with a £100 fine.
Exceptions are only made for vehicles that are being taken to a pre-booked MOT appointment or returning to a garage to have the necessary repairs in order to pass an MOT.
Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras may also pick up on vehicles on the road without a valid MOT. The maximum fine is £1,000.
However, if your vehicle is stopped by the police and they find it to be unroadworthy, the punishment can be even more severe, with fines and penalty points issued for any faults discovered, such as bald tires or faulty brakes.
What does an MOT test entail?
Depending on the type of vehicle you drive, there's a maximum amount that can be charged by MOT test stations. Currently, this is £54.85 and £29.65 (inc. VAT) for a car and a standard motorcycle respectively. The test isn’t too invasive and can usually be done in under an hour, while you wait.
Your garage will look at a number of key areas, from the electrics, including lights and wipers, to the performance of key safety equipment such as the brakes, seat belts, tires and more.
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