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Tangelo Auto Centre

Your MOT Questions Answered

27 Sep 2023

Whether you’ve just bought your first car or you’re a seasoned petrolhead, understanding what MOTs are and why they’re important is crucial for the well-being of your car, and more importantly the people inside. On that note, we’ve gathered your most common MOT questions and answered them in our MOT guide:

What does MOT stand for?

MOT stands for ‘Ministry of Transport’ in the United Kingdom. The MOT test is an annual examination of a vehicle's safety, emissions, and roadworthiness conducted to ensure that the vehicle meets certain standards required for it to be legally driven on public roads

Why is it called an MOT?

MOTs were initially administered by the Ministry of Transport in 1960 by the British Government, and so the acronym ‘MOT’ was born. Over time, the responsibility for conducting the test and setting the standards was transferred to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) in the UK, whilst the MOT name remained.  

What is an MOT?

An MOT is a mandatory vehicle inspection and certification process designed to ensure that vehicles on the road meet specific safety, roadworthiness, and environmental standards. It’s a legal requirement for most vehicles over a certain age (usually three years or older) to undergo an annual MOT test to ensure they’re safe to be driven on public roads.

Do all cars need an MOT?

Whether a car needs an MOT depends on various factors, including the age of the vehicle and its intended use. General factors include:

  • Age of the Vehicle: Most cars are required to have an MOT test once they are three years old or older. This means that new cars do not require an MOT test until they reach their third anniversary of registration. After that, they must undergo an MOT test annually.
  • Historic Vehicles: Classic cars may be exempt from MOT testing if they meet specific criteria. Generally, a vehicle must be more than 40 years old and have not been substantially changed in the last 30 years to qualify for exemption.
  • Electric Vehicles: Electric vehicles (EVs) also require MOT testing, even if they don't have traditional internal combustion engines. EVs need to undergo safety and roadworthiness checks, just like conventional vehicles.
  • Commercial Vehicles: Commercial vehicles have their own set of rules regarding MOT testing, which may depend on factors such as weight and usage. Heavier commercial vehicles may require more frequent testing.
  • Taxis and Private Hire Vehicles: Taxis and private hire vehicles typically require more frequent MOT testing, often every six months, to ensure their continued safety and suitability for public transportation.

How often do you need to MOT your car?

The frequency of MOT testing for cars depends on the age of the vehicle in question, the general rules are:

  • New cars under three years: New cars are exempt from MOT testing for the first three years from the date of their first registration. After that, they require an MOT test annually.
  • Cars older than three years: Once a car is over three years old, it must undergo an MOT test annually to ensure it meets the safety and environmental standards required by law.
  • Historic cars over forty years: Cars that are forty years old or older are considered ‘historic vehicles’ and are exempt from MOT testing. However, owners have the option to voluntarily have them tested if they wish to ensure their safety and roadworthiness.

How long can you drive without an MOT?

In the UK you cannot legally drive a vehicle on public roads without a valid MOT certificate if your vehicle is required to have one. It’s illegal to drive a vehicle without an MOT certificate, and doing so can result in penalties, fines, and potentially having your vehicle seized.

The maximum penalty for driving without a valid MOT certificate in the UK can include fines of up to £1,000, and your vehicle may be impounded if it is deemed unroadworthy. Additionally, driving without a valid MOT certificate may void your insurance, leaving you personally responsible for any damages or liabilities in the event of an accident.

Can you drive without an MOT if you have a test booked?

In the UK you cannot legally drive without a valid MOT certificate unless you’re driving directly to an MOT test appointment. If stopped by the police for failing to have an MOT certificate, then the driver must show proof of the confirmed MOT booking. To avoid any complications, drivers are encouraged to take the most direct route and avoid unnecessary stops or detours.

Are MOT reminders sent out?

Yes, MOT reminders are sent out by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) with the exact date of the required appointment. These reminders are typically sent by text, email, or post to the registered owner of the vehicle. If you haven’t received your reminder, or you’d like to check your current details, visit the GOV MOT Reminder page here.

Can you just turn up for an MOT?

No, in the UK vehicle owners cannot just turn up at an MOT Testing Centre without an appointment as they’re typically conducted by appointment by a qualified professional, meaning it's essential to schedule your MOT test in advance.

How do I book an MOT?

Booking an MOT is a straightforward process. You can book an MOT test appointment through various methods, including online booking, telephone booking, or visiting the testing centre in person.

Most MOT test centres now offer online booking, but failing that, almost all test centres will answer the phone to book your appointment. If you’d prefer to visit the test centre in person to book an MOT, then we’d recommend giving them a call first to let them know you’re coming.

What do I need to book an MOT?

To book an MOT test in the UK, vehicle owners need the following pieces of information:

  • Vehicle Registration Number: You will need the registration number (number plate) of the vehicle for which you want to book the MOT test. This information is essential for identifying the specific vehicle and accessing its MOT history.
  • Vehicle Make and Model: You should know the make (manufacturer) and model of your vehicle, as this information helps in identifying the vehicle accurately.
  • Contact Information: Be prepared to provide your contact details, including your name, phone number, and email address. This information is necessary for the testing centre to confirm your appointment and contact you if needed.
  • Preferred Date and Time: While booking, you will be asked to choose a date and time for your MOT test. Have an idea of when you'd like to schedule the test, and check the testing centre’s availability for that time.
  • Payment Method: Some testing centres may require payment at the time of booking or confirmation of the appointment. Be prepared with a valid payment method, such as a credit or debit card.

How much does an MOT cost?

The cost of an MOT test in the UK can vary depending on the type of vehicle being tested and the location of the testing centre, although the Ministry of Transport have implemented price caps to ensure that there's a maximum price vehicle owners have to pay.

According to the Gov. website, the maximum MOT fee for a car is £54.85, and the maximum fee for a standard motorcycle is £29.65, VAT is not paid on top of the fee.

How long does an MOT take?

The duration of a full MOT test can vary depending on several factors, including the efficiency of the testing centre, the condition of the vehicle being tested, and whether any repairs or adjustments are needed. However on average, a standard MOT test typically takes between 45 minutes to an hour to complete.

What do I need to bring to an MOT?

It's important to bring the right documents to the MOT testing centre on the day of your appointment to ensure a smooth and successful inspection. This includes proof of vehicle ownership, otherwise known as the V5C Form, proof of valid insurance, and your Driver’s Licence.

We would also recommend bringing confirmation of your scheduled appointment, be it an email, letter or text to ensure an easy process for the vehicle owner and the testing centre.  

What is checked during an MOT?

The full list of what is inspected during an MOT test is understandably extensive and detailed, and whilst you can find that full list on the Gov. website, the key inspection areas include:  

  • Lights and Signals: All lights on the vehicle, including headlights, brake lights, indicators, hazard lights, fog lights, and number plate lights.
  • Steering and Suspension: The examiner will assess the vehicle's steering system for excessive wear or play and check the suspension for signs of damage.
  • Brakes: The braking system, including the brake pads, discs, drums, and brake fluid will be examined to ensure they are in good working condition.
  • Tires and Wheels: The condition of the tires, including tread depth and overall condition, will be checked.
  • Seats and Seatbelts: The seats and seatbelts will be inspected for safety, ensuring they are securely attached and function correctly.
  • Exhaust and Emissions: The exhaust system will be checked for leaks, excessive noise, and the presence of emissions control equipment. The vehicle's emissions will also be tested to ensure they comply with environmental standards.
  • Body and Structure: The body and structure of the vehicle will be examined for corrosion, damage, or any sharp edges that could pose a safety risk.
  • Horn: The horn will be tested to ensure it functions correctly.
  • Wipers and Washers: The windscreen wipers and washers will be inspected to ensure they effectively clear the windscreen.
  • Electrical Systems: The examiner will assess the vehicle's electrical systems, including the battery, wiring, and dashboard warning lights.

What happens when you fail your MOT?

If your vehicle fails its MOT, the following steps are typically taken:

  • Failure Notice: The MOT tester will provide you with a VT30, commonly referred to as a Failure Notice. This document lists the reasons why your vehicle failed the test and includes details of the issues that need to be addressed.
  • Advisory Items: On top of the failure points, the MOT tester may also list advisory items. These are issues that are not severe enough to cause a failure but are worth noting as they may require attention in the future.
  • Repairs: To make your vehicle roadworthy and compliant with the necessary safety and environmental standards, you'll need to address the defects mentioned in the failure notice. You have the option to have the necessary repairs carried out at the same MOT testing centre, or at a different garage of your choice.
  • Retest: Once the repairs are completed, you can book a retest at the same MOT testing centre, or another approved facility.

Are MOT retests free?

Whilst it’s not a legal requirement for MOT retests to be free or a reduced price, the majority of MOT test centres will offer a reduced price if you return the vehicle for a retest within a certain timeframe (usually within ten working days). At a reduced rate retest, the testing centre will normally only check the parts of a car that originally failed the full MOT test.

However if you fail to return the vehicle within the given timeframe, you’re likely to be charged for another full MOT test, so we’d encourage getting those failing components fixed as soon as possible.

MOTs in Exeter

If the deadline for your next MOT is approaching and you’re looking for MOT Test Centres in Exeter, then that’s when Tangelo Auto Centre steps in!

Open from Monday to Saturday, our team of expert technicians offer decades of industry experience to not only maintain your vehicle’s health and value, but reduce the risk of breakdown, giving you that all-important peace of mind on the open road.

Book an MOT, or to find out more about Tangelo Auto Centre please just get in touch with the team by calling 01395 201222 or emailing [email protected]. If you have any more questions, there’s a good chance we’ve already answered them in our Auto Centre FAQs!

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