Money Saving Tips for UK Motorists

Full Guide: Stress-free MoT tests

Full Guide: Stress-free MoT tests

MoT checks make you nervous? Then this is the guide for you. We reveal exactly what the test involves, how to prepare for one, how to maximise your chances of passing, and what to do if any problems are uncovered.

 

Introduction

By law all vehicles in the UK have to undergo an annual roadworthiness check called an MoT. The inspection makes a lot of motorists nervous, because it can result in big bills and a lot of stress, if serious problems are found.

In this guide, we show you how you can boost your chances or success with a little planning and preparation, how to locate a reputable garage for MoT’s and repairs, how to challenge an MoT result, and much more besides.
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What is an MoT Test?

The MoT test is a mandatory test to ensure that your vehicle meets minimum safety and environmental standards, and is roadworthy. It is carried out at designated test centres by suitably qualified technicians.

If a vehicle fails its MoT check, then the owner is obliged to get the relevant issues fixed and submit it for a retest.

In accordance with the law in England, Scotland and Wales, most vehicles are required to undergo an MoT check once they reach three years old, and every year thereafter. Northern Ireland has its own MoT regulations.

The test should not be confused with the regular servicing of a vehicle. An MoT is a legal requirement and designed to establish if your vehicle is safe to drive, whereas servicing is entirely optional and designed to address mechanical issues.

Testers focus on a very specific set of items during an MoT test and do not cover major components such as the clutch, engine or gearbox, for example. Therefore, an MoT pass is not a guarantee of the general mechanical health of a vehicle.
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What is the history of the MoT test?

The term MoT is an abbreviation of Ministry of Transport, a now defunct government department that was replaced by the Department for Transport.

The test only applied to cars over 10 years old when it was first introduced by the Ministry in 1960, and only checked key components such as lights, steering and brakes. And it cost the equivalent of just 70 pence (plus another 5 pence for the certificate), back then!

However, the MoT test has been morphing ever since, adding more and more checks over the years. For instance, the testable age of vehicles was reduced to 3 years in 1967, and the procedure underwent substantial revisions more recently in 2012 and 2018.

The MoT certificate is issued in England, Scotland and Wales by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), an executive agency formed in 2014 by a merger between the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA). In Northern Ireland, certificates are issued by the Driver & Vehicle Agency instead.
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Which vehicles need to be MoT’d?

Vehicle classes

All vehicles are categorized into different test classes by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency.

The two main classes of interest to the majority of motorists are class 4 and class 7, although there are several others:

  • Class 4 – Cars (up to 8 passenger seats), motorhomes and goods vehicles (up to 3 tonnes design gross weight)
  • Class 7 – Goods vehicles, such as pickup trucks and vans that weigh between 3 and 3.5 tonnes design gross weight

For a detailed breakdown of vehicle classes for MoT purposes, please visit this website:

Gov.uk – MoT fees table

The vast majority of vehicles need to be MoT’d annually once they reach their third anniversary, but there are some exceptions that must undergo an annual check from the first year. These include ambulances, taxis, playbuses and vehicles with 9 or more passenger seats.

Again, you can find out more about the exceptions to the rule by using the link above to the MoT fees table.

 

MoT exempt vehicles

Certain vehicles, such as classic cars, tractors, and goods vehicles powered by electricity and registered before 1 March 2015, do not require an MoT check at all.

If your vehicle is exempt, then you need to complete and submit a V112 Declaration of Exemption form. The back of the form contains a full list of exempt vehicles. You can find out more about exemptions here:

Gov.uk – Vehicles that do not need an MoT

With regard to classic cars, only ones that qualify for Vehicles of Historical Interest (VHI) status are actually MoT exempt, not all of them. If your car does qualify and it was also built before 1 January 1979, then it is exempt from vehicle tax as well.

To be driven MoT-free a classic car must have been built or registered over 40 years ago and not have been ‘substantially modified’ in the last 30 years.

You don’t have to apply for an MoT exemption for your classic vehicle every year, but you must still keep it in a roadworthy condition.

For full guidance on MoT exemptions for historic vehicles, please follow the links below:

Gov.uk – Historic (classic) vehicles: MoT and vehicle tax

Gov.uk – Roadworthiness testing for vehicles of historical interest

Halfords’ website is another handy but unofficial source of information on historic vehicles:

Halfords – MoT exempt cars

 

Electric and hybrid cars

Electric and hybrid cars have to pass an MoT check annually once they are three years old, just like most other vehicles, otherwise they can’t be driven legally.

The test procedure is almost exactly the same for these types of vehicles too, except for the fact that electric vehicles don’t have to undergo an emissions test during the MoT, because they don’t emit any exhaust fumes.

 

Electric car being charged up
(Image credit: MikesPhotos at Pixabay.com)

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What will happen if I drive without an MoT?

Driving without a valid MoT certificate is illegal under Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988. If you are caught, you could face a fine of up to £1,000.

There is no grace period, so you cannot drive your car once its MoT certificate expires. The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • If you are driving your vehicle to or from somewhere for scheduled MoT repairs
  • If you are taking your vehicle to a pre-booked MoT test

MoT results are fed into a secure central database immediately after a test and this computerised system can be accessed by the police at any time. So, if your car fails its MoT check with a ‘major’ fault, you will only be able to drive it away if you meet the following two conditions:

  • Your current MoT certificate has not expired
  • You are taking the vehicle to a garage or mechanic for repair

If the test fails because a ‘dangerous’ fault was found, then you will not be able to drive your car away at all and you’ll either have to get it repaired on the spot, or if this is not possible, arrange for it to be towed to somewhere where it can be fixed.

One very important point to note is that an MoT pass only certifies that your vehicle met minimum standards of roadworthiness at the time of the test. If it develops a dangerous fault later, but your MoT is still in date, you could still be hit with a £2,500 fine, a driving ban and three penalty points on your driving license.

If you know of a vehicle that is being driven around without an MoT, then you can report it to the police (the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency can’t get involved in such an issue):

Gov.uk – Report a vehicle with no MoT

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How early can I have my vehicle MoT’d?

You can get your vehicle MoT’d up to a month (minus a day) before your current certificate runs out. If you do so, you will keep the same renewal date.

For example, if your current MoT runs out on 15 September, you can get your car tested on 16 August at the earliest and still keep the 15 September renewal date for the following year.

You can also choose to get your vehicle MoT’d more than a month before your current certificate expires, but if you do, then your renewal date will simply be set a year from the date of the MoT test, which means you lose a month of cover.

To illustrate, if your current MoT expires on 15 September and you choose to have your car tested on 14 August, instead of waiting until 16 August, your new MoT certificate will expire on 13 August the following year.
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MoT reminders and history

You do not receive a reminder letter from the DVSA to get your vehicle MoT’d, as you do from the DVLA to get it road taxed. The onus is entirely on you to ensure your vehicle passes its MoT test on time.

However, the DVSA does operate a free online reminder service that motorists can join. If you do sign up, you will receive a reminder by text or email (the choice is yours) a month before your MoT is due, and another 2 weeks before its due, if you still haven’t booked a test.

Gov.uk – Get MoT Reminders

Drivers in Northern Ireland cannot use the online reminder service; they get a postal reminder 7 weeks before their MoT expires instead.

Numerous other organisations offer free MoT reminders as well, including the AA through its Automyze service, the RAC (members only), Halfords Autocentre and Kwik Fit.

If you just want to check the MoT history of your own or any other vehicle, including the mileage recorded at test, MoT expiry date, whether it passed or failed, and defects and advisories, then check out this official website:

Gov.uk – Check the MoT history of a vehicle

And if you want to verify the MoT status of a vehicle, including its date of first registration, CO2 emissions rating, tax band and other information, then use this government service:

Gov.uk – Check the MoT status of a vehicle

Note that both websites require the the latest 11 digit reference number from the V5C registration certificate (logbook) of the vehicle you are checking, before you can view certain details.

 

Busy schedule showing on the screen of a Macbook computer
(Image credit. Rawpixel.com at Pexels.com)

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What do testers check during an MoT?

The MoT test focuses on specific parts of your car, to ensure that important components meet the minimum legal standards. These include:

  • Body, vehicle structure and general items
  • Bonnet
  • Brakes
  • Doors
  • Electrical
  • Exhaust emissions
  • Exhaust system
  • Fuel system
  • Horn
  • Lights
  • Load security
  • Mirrors
  • Registration plates
  • Seats
  • Seatbelts
  • Steering and suspension
  • Towbars
  • Tyres and wheels
  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Windscreen
  • Wipers and washers

To find out exactly what each component is inspected for, please click on this link:

Gov.uk – Car parts checked at an MoT

For an even more in-depth breakdown of the checks visit:

Gov.uk – MoT manuals and special notices

A typically MoT test takes around 45 – 60 minutes to complete. You can either drop off your car and pick it up when the test is finished or hang around in the waiting area the whole time, the choice is yours. Some test centres have a special viewing area for customers, but you are not allowed to interrupt the tester in any way while your vehicle is being checked.

MoT testers are not allowed to dismantle your vehicle in any way during the inspection, even if they’re having difficulty carrying out certain checks.

Although they have to follow guidelines issued by the DVSA, the decision to pass or fail your vehicle is ultimately at the discretion of the tester. If you disagree with their decision, you have the option to appeal.

As mentioned earlier, an MoT is a vehicle safety check and not a mechanical health check. For this reason, crucial components such as the clutch, engine and gearbox are not examined during the test. If you want to be sure these items are in good working order, then you need to get your car serviced.

 

Updates to the MoT rules in 2018

An updated MoT test was introduced in England, Scotland and Wales on 20 May 2018, in order to comply with EU regulations. The revised procedure includes a number of key changes that motorists need to be aware of:

• Defects are categorised differently: dangerous, major, minor
• Stricter emissions limits for diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF)
• New MoT checks for: underinflated tyres, brake fluid contamination, fluid leaks that pose an environmental risk, brake pad warning lights, missing brake pads or discs, reversing lights *, headlight washers *, daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018
• New look MoT certificate
• MoT exemption for some vehicles over 40 years old

* = on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009

The following news brief from the government contains further information about the changes:

Gov.uk – MoT rule changes: 20 May 2018

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How much does an MoT test cost?

There are different MoT test charges for different types of vehicle depending on which class they fall in. The government sets a maximum price for each vehicle classes. MoT stations can choose to charge less than the maximum for a test, but they cannot charge more.

The maximum fee for cars (up to 8 passenger seats) is currently set at £54.85, though some test centres charge a lot less than this. The fee is not subject to VAT.

You can view a full list of charges online:

Gov.uk – MoT costs

All recognised MoT test centres are obliged to clearly display a “VT9A Fees and Appeals” poster on their premises for members of the public to view, to help ensure they do not get charged more than the limit set by the government .
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Where can I get my vehicle MoT’d?

All MoT’s must be carried out at an authorised testing facility that is recognised by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, and conducted by a suitably qualified MoT tester.

Only approved stations are allowed to display the official MoT logo, which consists of three triangles representing the three items that were checked when the test was first introduced in 1960, i.e. brakes, lights and steering:

 

MoT approved test station symbol
(Image credit: Wikipedia.org)

 

You shouldn’t have much difficulty finding a suitable facility, as there are over 23,000 testing stations licensed and regulated by the DVSA throughout the UK, and in total they employ over 53,000 qualified MoT testers.

You options fall into three main categories:

 

Local garages

Many garages, repair centres and workshops, ranging in size from small independents to area wide franchises, offer MoT’s as well as servicing and repair.

Here are the main advantages and disadvantages of using a local garage for an MoT test:

Pros

  • Huge choice of test stations, so more chance of finding one that suits your needs
  • Often accept walk-ins, so a booking may not be required
  • Cut-price MoT’s, and repair and servicing deals are easy to find
  • It’s convenient to use a one stop-shop for MoT’s, repairs and servicing
  • You can save time and money by having the MoT and a service together
  • Small repairs may be carried out for free, especially if you’re a regular customer

Cons

  • Quality can vary between test centres
  • It can take real effort to track down a reliable garage
  • Some operators subsidise low-cost MoT’s by overcharging for parts or repairs
  • Rogue garages fleece customers by failing MoT’s for non-existent faults, to get repair work

You can use any of these websites to locate a suitable independent MoT test centre near you:

Book My Garage – shows MoT prices and customer reviews

Find Local Garages – allows visitors to read or submit feedback about listed garages

Regit – a popular site that lets you filter results by postcode, range or franchise

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National Autocentres

Pretty much all the pros and cons of using a local garage for an MoT test apply to national chains as well. One notable difference is that you can escalate any complaints to a head office, if they are not handled satisfactorily at branch level, something you can’t do with a local garage. And with a brand image to protect they may be more responsive to your grievance than an independent, too.

Another is that chain operators have the financial and marketing power to offer attractive discounts, bundles and offers, something that small garages can’t always afford to do.

The best known players with branches nationwide include:

ATS Euromaster

Formula One Autocentres

Halfords Autocentre

IN ‘n’ OUT Autocentres

Kwik Fit

Mr Clutch

National Tyres & Autocare

Servicing Stop

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Council test centres

Numerous councils around the country maintain MoT test centres where they check their own fleet of vehicles. Regulations dictate that these facilities have to be open to members of the public too.

But the question is, why use a council station instead of a private MoT tester?

Well, it’s quite simple really: council test centres do not normally carry out repairs on private vehicles, so they have zero incentive to fail your car for faults that do not exist, because they don’t gain any extra business by doing so. And anecdotal evidence seems to back this up, with many customers reporting higher pass rates and fewer issues at council MoT stations, compared to private ones.

The main downside of using a council facility is that you will not find any cut-price deals. But this loss is more than made up for by the fact that your car is unlikely to be flagged for potentially costly repairs that aren’t strictly necessary to pass the MoT.

Another drawback is that not all councils operate an MoT test centre, so there may not be one near you at all. And even if there is, keep in mind that council test slots can sometimes be limited, which means that there is no guarantee you will be offered an appointment at a time that suits you.

To find your nearest council MoT test centre, or to note their contact details, open the appropriate section below:

 

England

Click here to view the list

 

England

 

Council

 

Test Centre

 

Telephone

 

Location

 

Bedfordshire
Bedford Bedford Borough Council Vehicle Depot, 30 Brunel Road, Bedford. MK41 9TG 01234 718048 / 267422 Map
Luton Central Depot, Kingsway, Luton. LU4 8AU 01582 546839 Map
Bristol
Bristol Sandy Park Road, Brislington, Bristol. BS4 3NZ 0117 903 6319 Map
Bristol The MoT Test Centre, Broad Lane Offices, Engine Common Lane, Yate, Bristol. BS37 7PN 01454 863920 Map
Buckinghamshire
Milton Keynes

 

Milton Keynes Council, Fleet & Workshop Services, Synergy Park, Chesney Wold,
Bleak Hall,
Milton Keynes. MK6 1LY
01908 252852 / 252845

 

Map

 

Cambridgeshire
Cambridge Vehicle Engineering Services, Dickerson Industrial Estate, Ely Road, Waterbeach. CB25 9PG 01223 458266 Map
Peterborough Peterborough City Council Depot, Nursery Lane, Fengate, Peterborough. PE1 5BG 01733 425419 / 425466 Map
Chesire
Crewe Cheshire East Council, Pyms Lane, Crewe. CW1 3PJ 01270 686 853 Map
Warrington Warrington Borough Transport Ltd, Wilderspool Causeway, Warrington. WA4 6PT 01925 634296 Map
Widnes Halton Borough Council MoT Testing Station, Lower House Lane. Widnes. WA8 7AW 0151 511 7222 Map
Cornwall
Bodmin Central Group Centre, Castle Canyke Rd, Bodmin. PL31 1DZ 01872 327827 Map
Redruth Western Group Centre, Radnor Road, Scorrier, Redruth. TR16 5EH 01872 327252 Map
County Durham
Darlington Darlington Borough Council, Allington Way Depot, Allington Way, Darlington. DL1 4DY 01325 406715 Map
Durham Central Repair Depot, Durham County Council, St John’s Road, Meadowfield, Durham. DH7 8XQ 03000 269 342 Map
Ferryhill Chilton Depot, Durham County Council, Chilton Industrial Estate, Chilton, Ferryhill. DL17 0S 03000 266 247 Map
Hartlepool

 

Hartlepool Borough Council Fleet Workshops, Unit 12 (formerly Expert Cables), Tofts Farm Industrial Estate East, Brenda Road, Hartlepool. TS25 2BS 01429 866736 / 07780793055

 

Map

 

Stanley Morrison Busty Depot Transport, Durham County Council, Annfield Plain, Stanley. DH9 7RX 03000 265 638 Map
Peterlee

 

Hackworth Road Transport Depot, Durham County Council, 2 Hackworth Road, North West Industrial Estate, Peterlee. SR8 2JQ 03000 264 100

 

Map

 

Stockton-on-Tees Cowpen Lane Depot, Cowpen Lane, Stockton-on-Tees, Billingham. TS23 4DD 01642 527167 / 391959 Map
Cumbria
Carlisle Boustead’s Grassing, Rome Street, Carlisle. CA2 5LG 01228 817518 Map
Derbyshire
Ambergate County Transport, Ripley Road, Ambergate. DE56 2ER 01629 532100 / 532295 Map
Brimington County Transport, Brimington Road North, Chesterfield. S41 9BE 01629 537644 / 537580 Map
Buxton County Transport, Doveholes Workshop, Hallsteads Garage, Buxton. SK17 8BJ 01298 813141 / 814298 Map
Chesterfield Riverside Depot, Mansfield Road, Doe Lea, Chesterfield. S44 5NY 01246 593054 Map
Eckington NEDDC Transport Department, Rotherside Road, Eckington. S21 4HL 01246 217273 Map
Devon
Ivybridge Ivybridge MoT Centre, Blachford Road, Ivybridge. PL21 0AE 01752 698835 Map
Newton Abbot Teignbridge District Council, Forde Road Depot, Forde Road, Newton Abbot. TQ12 4AD 01626 215877 Map
Paignton Aspen Way, Paignton. TQ4 7QR 01803 402 966 Map
Plymouth Plymouth City Council Fleet Services, Prince Rock Depot, Macadam Road, Plymouth. PL4 ORZ 01752 304703 / 304697 Map
Dorset
Dorchester Charminster Depot, 1 Wanchard Lane, Charminster, Dorchester. DT2 9RP 01305 228104 Map
Poole Fleet Operations, Borough of Poole, Hatchpond Depot, Hatchpond Road, Poole. BH17 7LQ 01202 261748 Map
East Sussex
Lewes Colas, The Broyle, Ringmer, Lewes. BN8 5NP 01273 815850 / 815855 Map
Horsham Broadbridge Heath Depot, Worthing Rd, Horsham. RH12 3LZ 01403 211246 Map
Eastbourne Eastbourne Buses, Birch Road, Eastbourne. BN23 6PD 01323 418077 Map
Essex
Chelmsford Freighter House, Drovers Way, Chelmsford. CM2 5PH 01245 615800 Map
Epping Forest Epping Forest District Council MoT Test Centre, 180 Oakwood Hill, Loughton. IG10 3FQ 01992 564100 Map
Thurrock Thurrock Council Fleet Management, St Clement’s Way, West Thurrock, Grays. RM20 3EE 01375 652 879 Map
Gloucestershire
Cheltenham Central Depot, Swindon Road, Cheltenham. GL51 9JZ 01242 387780 Map
Greater London
Barking & Dagenham Fleet Workshop, Frizlands Depot, Rainham Road North, Dagenham. RM10 7HX 020 8227 5866 Map
Barnet MoT Test Centre, Oakleigh Road Depot Workshop, Oakleigh Road South, London. N11 1HJ 020 8359 5103 Map
Camden York Way Depot, York Way, Freight Lane, London. N1C 4BE 020 7974 3447 Map
Croydon

 

Veolia Croydon Workshop, Stubbs Mead Depot, Factory Lane, Croydon. CR0 3RL

 

020 3567 6495

020 8255 2755 / 2756 / 2758

Map

 

Epping Forest
Epping Forest District Council MoT Test Centre, 180 Oakwood Hill, Loughton. IG10 3FQ
01992 564100
Map
Greenwich Greenwich Council Fleet Management, Birchmere Depot, Eastern Way, London. SE28 8BF 020 8921 4561 Map
Harrow Harrow MoT Testing Station, Unit 1 Central Depot, Forward Drive, Harrow. HA3 8NT 020 8424 7555 Map
Hounslow Bridge Rd Depot, Pears Rd, Hounslow. TW3 1SQ 020 8583 5506 / 5511 / 5512 Map
Newham Newham Council MoT Centre, Central Depot, Jenkins Lane, London. IG11 0AD 020 8472 0343 Map
Redbridge Ley Street Depot, 531 Ley Street, Ilford. IG2 7QZ 020 8708 5116 / 5117 Map
Tower Hamlets Blackwall Transport Complex, Silvocea Way, Blackwall, London. E14 0JJ 020 7364 1069 Map
Wandworth

 

Wandsworth Council Environment and Community Services Department, Frogmore Complex, Dormay Street, Wandsworth, London. SW18 1EY

 

020 8871 6761

 

Map

 

Greater Manchester
Bolton Bolton Council Vehicle Maintenance, Wellington House, Wellington Street, Bolton. BL3 5DX 01204 336877 Map
Bury Bradley Fold Depot, Bradley Fold Trading Estate, Bradley Fold Road, Bolton. BL2 6RS 0161 253 6699 / 6623 Map
Oldham MoT Test Centre, Moorhey Street Depot, Moorhey Street, Oldham. OL4 1JF 0161 770 4445 Map
Salford Vehicle Management Services, Turnpike Depot, 631 Eccles New Road, Salford. M50 1SW 0161 925 1042 Map
Wigan Wigan Council MoT Test Center, 3 Makerfield Way, Ince-in-Makerfield, Wigan. WN2 2SY 01942 705125 Map
Hampshire
Andover Portway Depot, Macadam Way, Andover. SP10 3XW 01264 368000 Map
Bishops Waltham HTM Bishops Waltham, Botley Road, Bishops Waltham. SO32 1DR 01489 895305 Map
Eastleigh Botley Road, Hedge End, Southampton. SO30 2RA 023 8068 8389 Map
Southampton City Depot & Recycling Park, First Avenue, Millbrook, Southampton. SO15 0LJ 023 8083 4363 Map
Southampton HTM Totton, Jacobs Gutter Lane, Totton, Southampton. SO40 9TH 023 8066 9120 Map
Kent
Aylesford County Workshops, The Forstal, Forstal Road, Aylesford. ME20 7HB 01622 605800 Map
Sevenoaks Direct Services, Dunbrik Depot, Main Road, Sundridge, Sevenoaks. TN14 6EP 01732 227150 / 07850542343 Map
Lancashire
Blackpool CVMU, Layton Depot, Plymouth Road, Blackpool. FY3 7HW 01253 476291 Map
Burnley

 

Lancashire County Engineering Services, Brindley Close, Network 65 Business Park, Hapton, Burnley. BB11 5TD

01282 448873

 

Map

 

Fleetwood Wyre Council Depot, Copse Road, Fleetwood. FY7 6RP 01253 891000 Map
Lytham St Annes Fylde Council MoT Test Centre, Snowdon Road Depot, St Annes. FY8 3DP 01253 658538 Map
Preston Dewhurst Row, Holme Road, Bamber Bridge, Preston. PR5 6BB 01772 620933 Map
Leicestershire
Leicester Leicester City Council, 17 Lower Willow Street, Leicester. LE1 2HP 0116 229 2565 Map
Leicester 84 Syston Street East, Cobden Industrial Estate, Leicester. LE1 2JW 01162 519185 Map
Lincolnshire
Scunthorpe

 

North Lincolnshire Council, Fleet Workshop & Offices, Plot 22, Grange Lane North, Scunthorpe. DN16 1BT 01724 297867

 

Map

 

Merseyside
Knowsley Knowsley Council Depot, Stretton Way, Huyton. L36 6JF 0151 443 2300 Map
Sefton Hawthorne Road Depot, Hawthorne Road, Bootle. L20 9PR 0151 288 6162 Map
St Helens Hardshaw Brook Depot, Parr Street, St Helens. WA9 1JR 01744 676753 Map
Norfolk
Norwich Norfolk County Services MoT Testing, 280 Fifers Lane, Norwich. NR6 6EQ 01603 894346 / 894306 Map
Northamptonshire
Towcester

Tove Depot, Old Tiffield Road, Towcester. NN12 6PF

01327 322093 Map
Northumberland
Alnwick Lionheart Workshop, Lionheart Ind Est, Hawthorn Close, Alnwick. NE66 2ER 01670 624392 / 620419 Map
Ashington Stakeford Workshops East View, Stakeford, Ashington. NE62 5TR 01670 622937 Map
Hexham Tyne Mills Workshops, Tyne Mills Industrial Estate, Hexham. NE46 1XL 01670 623746 Map
Nottinghamshire
Bilsthorpe VIA East Midlands Ltd, Bilsthorpe Depot, Eakring Road, Bilsthorpe. NG22 8ST 0115 8042100 Map
Mansfield Hermitage Lane Depot, Maunside, Greenline Industrial Estate, Mansfield. NG18 5GU 01623 463717 Map
Newark Transport Services, Newark and Sherwood District Council, Brunel Drive, Newark. NG24 2EG 01636 655566 Map
Nottingham Eastcroft MoT Station, Eastcroft Depot, London Rd, Nottingham. NG2 3AH 0115 915 2008 Map
Nottingham Woolsthorpe Depot, Woolsthorpe Close, Bilborough, Nottingham. NG8 3JP 0115 876 4500 Map
Sutton in Ashfield

 

Ashfield District Council Transport Department, Northern Depot, Station Road, Sutton in Ashfield. NG17 5HB 01623 457885 / 457889

 

Map

 

Worksop Carlton Forest, Hundred Acre Lane, Worksop. S81 0TS 01909 533533 Map
Oxfordshire
Banbury Cherwell District Council MoT Bay, Thorpe Lane, Banbury. OX16 4UT 01295 221916 Map
Oxford Oxford Direct Services, Cowley Marsh Depot, Marsh Road, Oxford. OX4 2HH 01865 684988 Map
Somerset
Bath MoT Garage and Fleet Services, Locksbrook Road, Bath. BA1 3EL 01225 477314 Map
Staffordshire
Cannock Chase Vehicle Maintenance Workshop, Hawks Green Depot, Hawks Green Lane, Cannock. WS11 6LH 01543 456833 / 462621 Map
Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council Depot, Knutton Lane, Newcastle-under-Lyme. ST5 2SL 01782 620953 Map
Stafford Unit QA, Beacon Business Park, Weston Road, Stafford. ST18 0WL 01785 854833 / 854848 Map
Stoke-on-Trent Transport Workshops, Cromer Road, Northwood, Stoke-on-Trent. ST1 6QN 01782 232297 / 01782 232125 Map
Suffolk
Bury Saint Edmunds Fleet Management, Olding Road, Bury Saint Edmunds. IP33 3YU 01284 757458 Map
Waveney Waveney District Council MoT Testing Centre, Rotterdam Rd, Lowestoft. NR32 2EF 01502 527100 / 565626 Map
Surrey
Redhill MoT Service Centre, Earlswood Depot, Horley Road, Redhill. RH1 6PN 01737 276650 Map
Guilford Woking Road Depot, Woking Rd, Guildford. GU1 1QE 01483 505050 Map
Tyneside
Gateshead Local Environmental Services Department, Park Road, Gateshead. NE8 3HN 0191 433 7433 / 7427 / 7000 Map
Newcastle-upon-Tyne

 

Newcastle City Council Licensing Office, Newington Rd, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. NE6 5BD

 

01912 783 867

0191 278 3861 / 3864

Map

 

South Shields Middlefields Depot, Middlefields Industrial Estate, Heddon Way, South Shields. NE34 0NT 0191 427 2060 / 2024 Map
Warwickshire
Coleshill County Fleet Maintenance, Unit 6, Coleshill Depot, Coleshill Heath Road, Coleshill. B46 3HL 01675 464888 Map
Nuneaton St. Marys Road Depot, St. Marys Road, Nuneaton. CV11 5AR 024 7637 6031 Map
West-Midlands
Birmingham 117 Montague Street, Bordesley, Birmingham. B9 4BA 0121 303 3311 Map
Coventry 259 London Rd, Coventry. CV3 4AR 024 7683 2147 / 4333 Map
Dudley

 

Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, Unit 1, Hurst Business Park, Narrowboat Way, Brierley Hill. DY5 1UF 01384 815101 / 815377 / 814540

 

Map

 

Walsall Walsall Council Environmental Depot, 200 Pelsall Rd, Brownhills, Walsall. WS8 7EN 01922 653753 / 654254 Map
Wolverhampton Fleet Management Central Workshops, Culwell Street, Wolverhampton. WV10 0JN 01902 554275 Map
West Suffolk
Bury St Edmunds Fleet Management, Olding Road, Bury St Edmunds. IP33 3YU 01284 757458 Map
West Sussex
Chichester Chichester Contract Services, Westhampnett, Chichester. PO18 0NS 01243 534804 Map
Worthing Workshop, Commerce Way, Lancing. BN15 8TA 01273 263148 Map
Wiltshire
Devizes Wiltshire Council Works Depot, Horton Road, Devizes. SN10 2JJ 01380 725854 Map
Worcestershire
Bromsgrove Bromsgrove District Council, Aston Road, Bromsgrove. B60 3EX 01527 881188 Map
Kidderminster Green Street Depot, Green Street, Kidderminster. DY10 1HA 01562 732927 Map
Redditch Redditch Borough Council, Cross Gate Depot, Crossgate Road, Redditch. B98 7SN 01527 881188 Map
Yorkshire
Barnsley Barnsley MBC MoT Test Centre, Smithies Lane Depot, Barnsley. S71 1NL 01226 774194 Map
Beverley East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Beverley Depot, 1 Annie Reed Rd, Beverley. HU17 0LF 01482 395781 / 395516 Map
Bridlington

 

East Riding of Yorkshire Council Carnaby Depot, Carnaby Industrial Estate, Lancaster Rd, Carnaby, Bridlington. YO15 3QY

01262 401973

 

Map

 

Bradford MoT Office Fleet Services, Shearbridge Depot, Shearbridge Road, Bradford. BD7 1PU 01274 433594 / 431000 Map
Dewsbury Kirklees Council MoT Testing, George Street Depot, Dewsbury. WF13 2LX 01924 325001 Map
Doncaster Doncaster Council MoT Testing, Council Depot, North Bridge Rd, Doncaster. DN5 9AN 01302 736851 Map
Goole East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Beverley Depot, Seavy Rd, Goole. DN14 6TA 01405 766938 Map
Halifax Calderdale MBC Transport Division, Battinson Road, Halifax. HX1 4PL 01422 288001 / 264374 Map
Harrogate Harrogate Borough Council Claro Road Depot, Claro Road, Harrogate. HG1 4AT 01423 556877 Map
Huddersfield Kirklees Council MoT Testing, Vine Street Depot, Vine Street, Huddersfield. HD1 6NT 01484 221 000 Map
Leeds Leeds City Council MoT Testing, 225A York Road, Leeds. LS9 7QQ 0113 378 1464 Map
Middlesbrough Fleet Services, Resolution House, Cargo Fleet Lane, Middlesborough. TS3 8AL 01642 728068 / 728061 Map
Redcar Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council, Fairway House, Limerick Road, Redcar. TS10 5JU 01642 444 979 Map
Scarborough Dean Road, Depot, Dean Road, Scarborough. YO12 7QS 01723 232323 Map
Sheffield Central Transport, Staniforth Road, Sheffield. S9 3HD 0114 203 7570 / 7421 Map
York Vehicle Workshop Eco Depot, 1 Hazel Court, York. YO10 3DS 01904 552422 Map

 

Scotland

Click here to view the list

 

Scotland

 

Council

 

Test Centre

 

Telephone

 

Location

 

Aberdeenshire
Aberdeen Kittybrewster Depot, 38 Powis Terrace, Kittybrewster, Aberdeen. AB25 3RF 01224 489 413 Map
Aberdeen Harlaw Repair Depot, Harlaw Rd, Inverurie, Aberdeen. AB51 4TE 01467 627 538 Map
Stonehaven Stonehaven Repair Depot, Spurryhillock Industrial Estate, Stonehaven. AB39 2NH 01569 763 274 Map
Dumfries & Galloway
Dumfries Garroch Business Park, Dumfries. DG2 8PN 01387 271100 Map
Stranraer Blackparks Industrial Estate, Commerce Road, Stranraer. DG9 7DD 01776 706948 Map
Dundee
Dundee Dundee City Council Plant and Equipment Workshop, 34 Harefield Rd, Dundee. DD2 3JX 01382 434 773 Map
East Ayrshire
Kilmarnock East Ayrshire Council Transport Services Unit, 34 Main Rd, Kilmarnock. KA3 6JS 01563 503250 Map
Edinburgh
Edinburgh Edinburgh Council Fleet Services & MoT, 38 Russell Road, Edinburgh. EH11 2LP 0131 337 2307 Map
Edinburgh Taxi Examination Centre, 33 Murrayburn Road, Edinburgh. EH14 2TF 0131 529 5800 Map
Falkirk
Grangemouth Dalgrain Depot, McCafferty Way, Grangemouth. FK3 8EB 01324 590400 Map
Fife
Glenrothes Fife Council, Fleet Operations, Bankhead Central, Bankhead Park, Glenrothes. KY7 6GH 03451 555 555 / 441737 Map
Glasgow
Glasgow Glasgow Taxi Inspection Centre, 425 Polmadie Rd, Glasgow. G42 0PJ 0141 287 3326 Map
Glasgow East Renfrewshire Council Commercial Operations Dept, 190 Carnwadric Rd, Thornliebank, Glasgow. G46 8HR 0141 577 3641 Map
Midlothian
Bonnyrigg 80b High Street, Bonnyrigg. EH19 2AE 0131 660 3486 Map
Moray
Elgin Vehicle Maintenance MoT and Taxi Testing Bay, Ashgrove Depot, Ashgrove Road, Elgin. IV30 1UU 01343 557317 Map
North Lanarkshire
Bellshill North Lanarkshire Council Transport Division, Old Edinburgh Road, Bellshill. ML4 3JS 01698 506241 / 50628 Map
Perth & Kinross
Perth Friarton Depot, Friarton Road, Perth. PH2 8DF 01738 477120 / 477132 Map
West Dunbartonshire
Clydebank West Dunbartonshire Council, 1 Richmond St, Clydebank. G81 1RF 01389 738 721 Map
West Lothian
Livingstone Nairns Rd, Deans Industrial Estate, Deans, Livingston. EH54 8AY 01506 777 824 Map

 

Wales

Click here to view the list

 

Wales
Council

 

Test Centre

 

Telephone

 

Location

 

Bridgend
Bridgend

 

Ty Thomas Joint Vehicle Maintenance Facility, Newlands Avenue, Brackla Industrial Estate, Bridgend. CF31 2XA 01656 642874

 

Map

 

Cardiff
Cardiff Cardiff MoT Testing Facility, Coleridge Road, Cardiff. CF11 8BT 029 2233 0068 Map
Carmarthenshire
Llanelli Trostre Depot, Trostre Rd, Llanelli. SA14 9RA 01554 784148 Map
Ceredigion
Aberystwyth Highways, Property & Works Department, TM Unit, Glanyrafon, Industrial Estate, Llanbadarn, Aberystwyth, SY23 3JQ 01970 633 825 Map
Denbighshire
Bodelwyddan Denbighsire County Council, Maintenance Facility, Expressway Business Park, Abergele Rd, Bodelwyddan. LL18 5SQ 01745 839230 / 839244 Map
Pembrokeshire
Milford Haven

 

 

Unit 28, Thornton, Industrial Estate, Pembrokeshire. SA73 2RR

 

 

01437 764 551

01437 775 440

01437 775 953

 

Map

 

 

Torfaen
Pontypool Ty Blaen, Panteg Way, New Inn, Pontypool. NP4 0LS 01495 766795 Map
Wrexham
Wrexham

 

Environment Department Transport Depot, Abbey Road South, Wrexham Industrial Estate, Wrexham. LL13 9PW 01978 729600

 

Map

 

 

Northern Ireland

Click here to view the list

 

Northern Ireland

 

All MOT’s in Northern Ireland are carried out in official Driver & Vehicle Agency test centres.
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College test centres

Another little-known option worth considering, if you are looking for an alternative to commercial garages, is the automotive department of your local further education college. Many of them offer MoT tests, repairs and servicing, so that students can practise their skills. The rates are usually very competitive and the work is always carried out under the strict supervision of a qualified instructor.

 

Hertford Regional College - Broxbourne campus external view
(Image credit: By Hertford Regional College – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0 at Wikimedia.org)

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MoT-only specialists

As their name suggests, MoT-only specialists focus solely on conducting MoT tests and do not offer repair or car maintenance services of any kind. This means that, like council test stations, they do not have a vested interest in failing your car in the hope that you will get it repaired from them.

Unlike council centres, however, MoT-only operators are normally commercial businesses run for profit.

If you don’t have a council test centre near you, MoT-only outfits are a good alternative. There are a handful of regional players, some of which we’ve listed below, but the vast majority of MoT-only test centres are single branch affairs.

Just MoT ‘s (South East)

The Test Centre (London)

We Only MoT (East Midlands)

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How do I find an MoT station?

A quick search on the internet will invariably return a host of results, but a more efficient method for tracking down a suitable independent MoT test centre in your area is through an online index. Here are two we recommend:

MoT Test Centre.org

UK MoT.com

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What if my vehicle fails its MoT check?

In the past vehicles simply passed or failed an MoT check, though the pass could still be subject to an advisory for issues that could result in a future MoT failure if not fixed. This is no longer the case.

The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency introduced new test rules on 20 May 2018, which dictate that any defect that results in an MoT failure must now be categorised as dangerous, major or minor, to help reflect the severity of the issue.

Here is a rundown of the categories that currently apply to an MoT test and what they mean for motorists:

 

Dangerous

  • Your vehicle has failed the MoT test
  • The defect poses an immediate risk to road safety or seriously impacts the environment
  • The vehicle cannot be driven away legally, it must be fixed on the spot or, failing that, towed somewhere where it can be repaired
  • You must get the vehicle retested, once it has been repaired

 

Major

  • MoT failed
  • The issue identified may impact the vehicle’s safety, or put other road users at risk, or damage the environment
  • Repairs must be undertaken immediately
  • You can only drive your vehicle to another location for it to be repaired, but only if it is in a roadworthy condition and if your current MoT certificate is still valid
  • The vehicle must be MoT’d again, once it has been fixed

 

Minor

  • Your vehicle has passed its MoT check
  • Faults found, but none that significantly impact the safety of the vehicle or the environment
  • The car can be driven without restrictions
  • Repair work should be carried out as soon as possible

 

Advisory

  • Passed MoT, but issues were found
  • The highlighted issues should be monitored and repaired if necessary, or they could become more serious
  • You can drive your car without any restrictions

 

Pass

  • MoT passed, no issues found
  • You can drive the vehicle without any restrictions
  • The vehicle meets the minimum vehicle safety and environmental standards. You need to ensure it continues to do so

 

Once the MoT test has finished, you will be advised of the result and the details will be entered into a central database run by the government. If your car passed the test, you will be given an MoT test pass certificate (VT20). Any advisories will also be recorded on the certificate. If your car failed the check, then you will be presented with a refusal of an MoT test certificate (VT30) instead.

The test centre will give you a paper copy of the MoT certificate (VT20 or VT30). It is highly recommended that you keep the paper copy of your certificate for reference purposes. You will also need the paper copy if you decide to sell your car, or if you make an accident or insurance claim.

It should be noted that an MoT station has no legal right to impound your vehicle if it fails its MoT – even if its due to a dangerous defect. But, because test results are recorded in the government’s database immediately after an MoT, you could be fined £2,500, banned from driving and get three penalty points on your licence, if the police catch you driving a car with dangerous faults.
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How can I find a reputable garage or mechanic?

The best way to find someone reputable and reliable to fix your car is by word of mouth. Nothing beats a personal recommendation from a family member or friend, especially if they have been using the repairer for a long time.

However, if you are new to an area and unfamiliar with the local garages, or simply want to conduct further research before picking one, there are a number of online resources and accreditation schemes you can use to guide you.

Prime among these is The Motor Ombudsman, an impartial automotive dispute resolution body. Its website lists over 7,500 businesses that are committed to the organisation’s Trading Standards approved code of practice.

Similarly, the National Body Repair Association, a trade body that represents UK body shops, only allows members who pledge to follow its strict code of practice, which has been endorsed by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, to display its TSI Approved Code Logo at their premises.

You can also search the database of The Institute of the Motor Industry, which contains the details of car mechanics, vehicle technicians and others in the automotive sector who have been recognised for their experience, professionalism and commitment to ethical working practices, and for keeping their knowledge and skills up to date:

IMI Professional Register

Two of Britain’s best known breakdown services also maintain a list of approved garages offering servicing, repairs and MoT tests, to help you locate a high quality independent quickly and efficiently:

AA Garage Guide

RAC Approved Garage Network

Other options to find a garage or MoT centre near you, or to check customer feedback, include the Good Garage Scheme, run by a firm called Forte Lubricants, and Who Can Fix My Car.com.

If you are not just looking for a reliable garage, but want a hassle-free repair, maintenance or MoT experience to boot, then consider using the services of RoadServe. All you have to do is book a slot with any one of the 15,000 independent garages in the company’s approved network, and it will then liaise with the garage on your behalf to check what work is being recommended, if it’s necessary, and if you are being quoted the best rate. You only have to pay RoadServe’s 6% admin fee if the amount you save comes to more than that.

National Service Network offers a similar service, acting as a middleman between you and its countrywide network of garages. Benefits include free pickup and delivery of your car, a clear pricing policy, the use of quality parts, and a 12 month/12,000 mile parts and labour guarantee on all servicing and MoT’s.

 

A garage named 'Purrfect Auto Service'
(Image credit: Robert Couse-Baker at Flickr.com)

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Do I have to pay for a retest?

The amount you pay to get your car retested after an MoT failure depends on whether you leave your vehicle for repair at the test centre or take it away, and how quickly you take it back for a retest. Here’s what we mean:

  • If you leave your vehicle at the MoT station to be fixed, then you only need a partial retest, which is free.
  • If you take your vehicle away from the test centre, to be repaired somewhere else, and then take it back to the same test centre the next working day for a partial retest on any of the components on the list below, then the retest is free as well:

List of components on partial MoT retest list

Note that you can take your vehicle away if your existing MoT certificate is still valid. If it has expired, then you can only take your vehicle away to have the failed defects repaired or to an MoT appointment that you’ve already booked. In both instances, the car must be in a roadworthy condition or you could be fined.

  • If you take your car away to be fixed and then bring it back to the test centre within 10 days then you can be charged a partial retest fee.
  • In all other cases, your vehicle will have to undergo a full MoT, which means you will have to pay the test fee in full again.

You are allowed one retest per full MoT test; fail a retest and you will have to undergo a full MoT again at full cost. MoT station owners can’t charge more than the legal maximum, but they are allowed to charge less.
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Can I appeal an MoT test result?

Yes, you can.

If you think your car should not have failed its MoT test, then the first thing you should do is speak to the test centre. This must be done before any repairs are carried out on your vehicle.

If you are still unhappy, then you can ask the test centre for a copy of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) complaint form, download it from their website, or order a copy by calling them on 0300 123 9000. You must submit the form to the DVSA within 14 days of the test.

The DVSA will get in touch with you within 5 days of receiving your complaint, to arrange a recheck of your vehicle. You will have to pay the full test fee again, though this will be refunded if your appeal is successful.

It is vital that your vehicle is not fixed while your appeal is being considered or else it could be invalidated. This is because it can’t be proved that any items that were repaired, replaced or removed from your car after the test were originally on the vehicle.

However, any mileage clocked up or not clocked up after the MoT does not influence the appeal in any way.

The complaint procedure differs slightly if your vehicle passed its MoT but you believe that it shouldn’t have done. You have to submit a complaint form to the DVSA within 28 days of the test (within 3 months if the issue is corrosion-related), and they then contact you within 5 days of its receipt to schedule a free recheck. After the retest, you’ll receive an inspection report detailing any vehicle defects or advisories.

As a motorist, you can also take action against an MoT station through Trading Standards, personal legal proceedings, or by reporting the test centre to the local police.

The DVSA can also take a range of actions against an MoT test centre, such as issuing penalty points or revoking its license, if it is found in breach of the rules, but they can’t secure a refund for customers, you need to go through Trading Standards to do that.
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What do most MoT’s fail on?

According to research carried out by the RAC, 62% of motorists have had a vehicle fail its MoT and 83% have paid more than £100 to get it to pass its test. These figures are supported by government data, which confirms that nearly 40% of MoT’s fail first time.

However, as the following statistics from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) show, MoT’s often fail for simple issues with headlights or indicators, and not necessarily for complex mechanical defects:

 

Type of defect % of MoT’s where the defect was found
Lighting and signalling 18.9%
Suspension 13%
Brakes 10%
Tyres 7.7%
Issues affecting the driver’s view of the road 7.2%

Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/mot-fails-could-be-avoided-by-basic-car-maintenance

 

The following link provides a detailed breakdown of the main reasons vehicles fail an MoT test:

Gov.uk MoT testing data for Great Britain

If you want to find out how your particular make or model of car fares in MoT tests, then head for Honest John’s excellent website. He also provides a rundown of the top 20 cars to pass the test as well as the models most likely to fail it.

Check your car’s overall MoT pass rate

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How can I avoid an MoT failure?

As a motorist, you can save yourself a lot of time, money and bother, not to mention increase your chances of passing the test, by understanding what the MoT tester will be looking for and carrying out a few basic checks beforehand.

Start by setting a reminder of when your MoT is due and ensuring that it is booked in good time – a month before the current certificate expires is ideal.

Next, check your MoT history, to ensure there are no minor faults or advisories from your last test that still need to be addressed. If there are, then either get them fixed before the next MoT or choose a garage that does both repairs and MoT’s, and get all the work done in one go.

In addition, for your own safety and peace of mind as much as to prepare for the MoT, make sure you confirm that your car, along with any parts or accessories on it, is not subject to an outstanding safety recall.

Most importantly, even if there are no issues with your car and it is well maintained, make sure you carry out the MoT pre-checks listed in the section below, to significantly boost your chances of passing the test. You don’t need to be a mechanical expert to complete the steps, because anyone can do them, and they include actions as simple topping up the windscreen washer fluid and cleaning the number plates.

 

An illuminated rear car indicator light
(Image credit: Bicanski at Pixnio.com)

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Essential MoT Pre-checks

Every vehicle owner should prepare for an MoT by carrying out these checks on their vehicle before visiting the test centre, so that any issues can be identified and fixed beforehand.

 

Reason for failure Pre-MoT checks to carry out
Headlights and indicators
  • Check all the lights – front, rear, sides, hazards, indicators, number plates, fog lights, reverse lights
  • Replace any lights that aren’t working; it’s cheap and easy to do
  • Are the headlights out of alignment? Then you should consult with a mechanic
Brake lights
  • Do they light up when you press the brake pedal?
  • Do they turn off when the brake is released?

Instructional video

  • Does the brake light strip work, if your car has one?

Replace any faulty bulbs yourself, or get them fixed if you can’t

Suspension
  • Check that the vehicle returns to its normal standing position after each corner is pushed down heavily?

(Ensure the vehicle is on level ground and unladen when you do this test)

If the vehicle fails to settle back or bounces excessively, you may need to get your shock absorbers checked out

Brakes
  • Does the break pedal function correctly? Are there any issues with pedal feel? Does the pedal feel light or vibrate when pressed? Any issues should be investigated by a mechanic urgently
  • Is the rubber on the brake pedal loose or worn? Get it replaced if it is
  • Are there any abnormal noises, or does the vehicle pull left or right, when the brakes are applied? In either case, consult a mechanic
  • Are the brake pads worn? Get them replaced immediately if they are
  • Is the brake fluid low, discoloured or contaminated? If so, top it up or replace it, as appropriate:

Instructional video

  • Does the handbrake work properly and stop the vehicle from rolling?
  • Does the handbrake ratchet properly when engaged? You should hear around 6 clicks before it engages fully
  • Does the handbrake travel too far or hardly at all when pulled? Ensure any issues with the handbrake are looked at by a mechanic promptly
Wheels and tyres
  • Is the tread depth on each tyre (including any spare) at least 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the breadth of the tyre and around the entire outer circumference?

Instructional video

You can use a 20 pence piece to quickly check tread depth:

Instructional video

Get your tyres replaced, if they have worn below the legal limit

  • Are the tyres correctly inflated front and back?

Instructional video

If not, get them pumped up properly

  • Are there any cuts or bulges on either side of the tyre wall? Seek advice from a tyre technician if there are
  • Don’t forget to check if there are any stones or bits of glass stuck in the tread, and remove them if there are
Windscreen
  • Is there any windscreen damage in the driver’s central view that is wider than 10mm, or to any part of the windscreen larger than 40mm? If there is, get it repaired (this work may be covered by your car insurance policy)

Instructional video

  • Are there any stickers, toys or air fresheners intruding on the drivers view of the road? Remove any such intrusions
  • Do the windscreen and any headlight washers work properly? Is the windscreen washer topped up?

Instructional video

If not, address the issue

  • Is the rear view mirror adjustable and in good condition? Get it fixed, if it is not
Exhaust
  • Are there any leaks or signs of corrosion?

Is the exhaust unusually loud?

Is the exhaust securely fitted?

If you spot any problems, seek advice from an exhaust technician

Steering
  • Is there a lot of movement in the steering wheel that fails to alter the direction of travel? Are ther any other issues present?

If there are, then get a mechanic to double-check the steering system

Fuel and engine oil
  • Are both filled up adequately?

Instructional video

If not, do so, or else you could be turned away from the MoT (both are required to test the vehicle’s emissions)

  • Does the fuel cap close securely? Replace it if doesn’t
Seats and seatbelts
  • Can the driver’s seat be adjusted properly? Get it fixed if it can’t
  • Are all the seats securely fitted and can they be fixed in an upright position? Any issues should be repaired
  • Are all the seatbelts in good working order? Do they lock in the stalks properly? Do they tense when pulled suddenly, just as they would if you braked hard? Is the webbing on the belts frayed or split?

Instructional video

If you find any defects, consult with a mechanic

Number plates
  • Are both front and rear registration plates clean and legible? If not, clean them properly
  • Do they fail to conform to DVSA standards or are they broken? Then you should get them replaced
  • Is the illuminating lamp working? Replace the bulb if it is not
Horn
  • Does it beep properly?
  • Is it of the correct type?
Bonnet and boot
  • Do they both close fully and securely? Get them fixed if they don’t
Doors and mirrors
  • Do all the doors open and close properly from both the inside and the outside of the vehicle?
  • Are all the latches and hinges secure and in good condition? Any issues should be addressed by a mechanic
Vehicle Identification Number
  • Check a single VIN is visible (all vehicles except for multistage build vehicles should have one). Speak to the DVLA, police or your dealer if it’s missing, or if there’s a mismatch:

Instructional video

 

For additional guidance on how to prepare for an MoT test, check out this official online resource:

Reasons why your car fails an MoT

And to view a series of MoT pre-check ‘how to’ videos produced by the government, just go to this website:

Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency – Basic car safety checks

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Can I get an MoT certificate corrected?

Yes, you can. If you spot any errors on your MoT certificate, such as incorrect mileage or vehicle details, and you act within 28 days of the test, then you can simply go back to the test centre and ask for a replacement certificate.

If you spot the mistake more than 28 days after the test, then you will need to contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) with the appropriate evidence to get it corrected.

Gov.uk – Fix mistakes on your MoT certificate

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What if I lose or damage my MoT certificate?

If you lose or damage your MoT certificate, contact an MoT centre – any MoT centre will do, it doesn’t have to be the one that issued the original certificate – give them your vehicle registration and your log book (V5C) reference number, and they will issue you with a replacement.

There is normally a £10 charge for providing a replacement MoT certificate. Unfortunately, replacement certificates can’t be ordered online.

For further guidance, use this official online resource:

Gov.uk – Replace a lost or damaged MoT certificate

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What about MoT checks on commercial vehicles?

The class 7 MoT test for light commercial vehicles weighing between 3 and 3.5 tonnes design gross weight is virtually the same as the one for cars (class 4), except for the fact that it is tailored for heavier vehicles, and includes additional checks of the brakes and tyres.

Halfords have put together this basic but handy primer on class 7 MoT’s:

Halfords Autocentre – Class 7 MoT

However, if you want a detailed breakdown of the test for commercial vehicles, then you should refer to the official MoT inspection manual:

Gov.uk – MoT inspection manual for private passenger and light commercial vehicles

For tips on van safety and maintenance, we suggest you read the following guides:

Vehicle & Operator Services Agency – Your van: best practice guide

Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – Van safety

 

Van on the road with a blurred background
(Image credit: Pxhere.com)

 

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MoT’s and buying a used vehicle?

When buying a vehicle secondhand, you should inspect its MoT certificate and test history thoroughly before you hand over any money, not least because it could help you bargain down the sale price.

You can start this process before you even go to view the vehicle, by asking the owner to give you its registration number, make and model, and MoT test number, then running these details through the government websites shown below, to ensure they match up with what you are being told:

Vehicle Enquiry Service

Check MoT History

You can also check if a vehicle, part or accessory is subject to any outstanding recalls by the manufacturer, because of safety concerns:

Check if a vehicle, part or accessory has been recalled

And when you do go to inspect the vehicle, make sure you carry out the following checks on the V5C vehicle registration certificate (‘log book’):

  • Confirm it has a genuine ‘DVL’ watermark and that the serial number is not between BG8229501 to BG9999030, or BI2305501 to BI2800000. If it is, or if it’s been altered, the log book could be a stolen one.
  • Ensure the details in the log book tally with the details you’ve been given and that no part of it is missing
  • Make sure the vehicle identification number and engine number match the the details on the V5C.

If you want additional tips on what to check when buying a used car, use the following official resources:

Gov.uk – Buy a vehicle: step by step

Safe Driving for Life

Always keep in mind that the MoT certificate is not a guarantee of the mechanical health of a car or of its roadworthiness at the time of sale. The vehicle may have suffered serious damage since it was last MoT’d that may have left it in a dangerous condition to drive. Some insurers insist on a new MoT test after a crash, but this is purely company policy and not a legal requirement, which is why you need to carry out your own checks.

Nor does the MoT certificate guarantee that the mileage shown is genuine. Even though a vehicle’s mileage is recorded during an MoT check, no steps are taken during the test to establish if it is genuine or to ensure the car hasn’t been ‘clocked’. It’s your responsibility to confirm the mileage.

Simply put, never buy a vehicle without carrying out due diligence first, to make sure it is not stolen, or cloned, or compromised in some other way.
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Summary

An annual MoT inspection is a legal requirement for all vehicles over three years old in the UK, to ensure they are roadworthy. You will not be prompted to arrange a test, but if you are caught driving without a valid MoT certificate, you could face severe penalties.

Only designated test centres and qualified technicians can carry out an MoT, but with over 23,000 such centres across the country, ranging from independents to council test stations to big brand autocentres, it’s easy to find one that fits your requirements. Each type of station has its own pros and cons.

New MoT rules introduced in 2018 specify that if your vehicle is found to have a dangerous defect, you will not be allowed to drive it away until the issue has been fixed. To avoid such an outcome, ensure that your vehicle is maintained properly and, crucially, that you carry out the pre-checks outlined in this guide in preparation for the MoT, so you can snag any problems before the test.

Most importantly, bear in mind that an MoT pass does not guarantee the mechanical health of a vehicle or that its hasn’t been rendered unsafe after the test. Therefore, when buying a used car, always carry out due diligence, which includes careful inspection of the vehicle’s MoT certificate, MoT history, safety recall history and log book.

 

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