MOT Check

Your MOT check and the law.

If you drive an eligible vehicle without an MOT you are breaking the law*  
Road Traffic Act 1988 section 47
*Some exclusions apply - read on for more information

What is an MOT?
Ministry of Transport tests, commonly known as MOT tests are checks done each year to ensure the safety, roadworthiness and emmission checks of a vehicle. The test is carried out and required by law on vehicles over three years old.

Are any vehicles exempt from an MOT test?
Not all vehicles are required to have an MOT test. Some exclusions are tractors, goods vehicles powered by electricity, and a more recent exclusion are motorcycles and cars made before 1960. A full list of vehicles exempt from an MOT test can be found on the Gov.UK website.

What are the penalties for not having an MOT?
You may be fined up to £1000 if you are caught driving a vehicle without a valid MOT. If the vehicle is has more than eight passenger seats the maximum penalty increases to £2,500. Also, failing to produce a test certificate to a police officer carries a penalty of up to £1,000.
Currently, no penalty points are issued for driving without an MOT however your insurance is likely to be void, which is a penalty point carrying offence in itself. See 'driving without insurance' for further information.

Will I receive an MOT reminder?
The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) do not send out reminders so it is entirely the owners responsibility to ensure the vehicle always has a valid MOT. It is possible to register for a text reminder service with Gov.UK. This service currently costs £1.50.

When do I need to have my MOT test done?
MOT tests can be done up to 28 days prior to the expiry date of the existing certificate. In these instances the current MOT certificate may be requested by the new examiner. Having your car tested up to 28 days early does not affect the expiry date for the following year.

Can I drive my vehicle if the MOT has expired?
In simple terms no, although there are some exceptions to this. If you can prove you are driving to pre-arranged MOT test centre you may not be prosecuted if caught driving the vehicle. However you must check that your insurers will still cover you to drive the vehicle in these circumstances. Therefore it is strongly advised that you always book your next MOT test in plenty of time so your existing certificate does not run out.

Can I drive my vehicle if it fails it's MOT?
If your vehicle fails it's MOT test you can only drive it to a place of repair or to a scrap yard and arrangements must be pre-booked. Again, you must make your insurer aware to ensure you are still covered. In many situations where a vehicle fails the testing centre will offer to repair the vehicle and some then also offer a free re-test. It is strongly advised to book your vehicle in early (up to 28 days) to allow plenty of time for repairs.

What if my vehicle fails but my previous MOT certificate is still valid?
If you are aware that the vehicle has faults significant enough to fail an MOT test then you should not drive the vehicle, unless it is to and/or from pre-booked repairs or the MOT test centre (let your insurers know to make sure they will still cover you). This is despite a previous MOT certificate still being valid. Once the faults are repaired you may drive the vehicle until the existing certificate expires or until the MOT re-test.

To sum this up, technically you can drive a vehicle until it's existing MOT certificate expires. HOWEVER, if during this time your vehicle fails another MOT test it would be immoral and potentially dangerous to drive it, unless in the circumstances above. If you were to have an accident your insurer may make it very difficult or even impossible for you to make a claim.

How much does an MOT test cost?
The cost of an MOT test varies depending on the type of vehicle. Although there are standard fees for all types of vehicle you will find that some garages and MOT test centres offer special rates, so it can be useful to shop around.

When does my vehicle need its first MOT?
This varies on the type of vehicle, although the majority of vehicles are three years old when they need their first MOT test.

The standard fees and the age a first MOT is needed are set out in the table below (taken from Gov.UK)
(Prices correct as of February 2013)

Vehicle Type

Age first MOT
needed (years)

Motorbike 3 £29.65
Motorbike with sidecar 3 £37.80
3 wheeled vehicles (upto
450kg unladen weight)
3 £37.80
3 wheeled vehicles (over
450kg unladen weight)
3 £54.85
Cars (upto 8 passenger
3 £54.85
Motor Caravans 3 £54.85
Quads (max unladen weight
400kg. For goods vehicles
550kg and max net power of
15 kw)
3 £54.85
Dual purpose vehicles 3 £54.85
Private hire and public service
vehicles (up to 8 seats)
3 £54.85
Ambulances and taxis 1 £54.85
Private passenger vehicles and
ambulances (9 to 12 passenger
1 £57.30
Class 4a vehicles n/a £64.00*
Private passenger vehicles and
ambulances (13 to 16 passenger
1 £59.55
Private passenger vehicles and
ambulances (more than 16
passenger seats)
1 £80.65
Class 5a vehicles (13 to 16
passenger seats)
n/a £80.50*
Class 5a vehicles (more than 16
passenger seats)
n/a £124.50*
Goods vehicles (over 3,000kg
upto 3,500kg DGW)
3 £58.60

* Includes seatbelt installation check.

Where can I get my MOT test done?
There are many approved MOT test centres across the whole of the UK. In order for any garage or company to carry out an MOT test they must be a VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Standards Agency) approved testing station. Legitimate testing stations must display the blue sign with three white triangles, and show the offical "MOT Test: Fees and Appeals" poster on their notice board or in a visible place on their premises. This must also include contact details for your local VOSA area office. An active list of approved VOSA MOT testing centres can be downloaded on Data.Gov - an official government website.

Can I do my own pre-MOT check?
Some garages offer this service and almost always for a fee. There are however, some elements of an MOT test that can be checked in advance by the owner of the vehicle. By doing this you could prevent your vehicle failing on some of the more common and easily fixed faults. 

Things you could check yourself:

  • Lights - check that headlights, sidelights, brake lights, registration plate lights, reverse lights, fog lights, indicators and hazard lights are all working correctly.
  • Internal warning lights - must be fully functional, e.g. ABS, parking break warning light, low oil warning light etc etc.
  • Mirrors - ensure they are securly in place and not cracked or smashed
  • Horn - make sure the horn is working and is loud enough
  • Wipers - make sure the rubber is in tact and that they clear the windows effectively
  • Tyres and wheels - make sure the tyre tread is within the law (see tyre law) and there are no wheelnuts missing.
  • Windscreen - check your windscreen for cracks or chips. Any chips over 10mm in the driver’s line of sight need repairing before you take your car for an MOT. Any scratches may also need checking and reparing before an MOT test.
  • Fuel Cap - make sure it locks securely and the seal is not broken.
  • Seatbelts - all seatbelts must lock and unlock, and not be badly worn or frayed.

Obviously there is no guarantee that on checking these items your vehicle will pass its MOT test, however it could help prevent failure due to something relatively simple. The actual test checks many other mechanical functions, such as the exhaust, body work, emissions plus more. A full list of what is checked on all vehicle types can be found on the Transport Office website. 

How do I know my MOT certificate is legitimate?
You can check the status of an MOT online and compare the details held online to those on your certificate.
You will be able to clarify:

  • that the MOT certificate is genuine
  • the date of the test
  • the odometer reading (mileage)
  • the expiry date of a test pass

To make these checks you will need either:

  • the MOT test number (you can get this from the VT20 test certificate or the VT30 refusal certificate)
  • the document reference number from the V5C registration certificate (logbook) if you don’t have the MOT test number

 Find a solicitor specialising in Motoring Offences in the Solicitors Directory 



© 2008 - 2014