What you need to know before booking your first MOT


Any vehicle that is more than three years old will be required by law to undertake a MOT (Ministry of Transport) test. This must be carried out annually to ensure the vehicle is roadworthy.

In this guide, we’ll briefly cover a number of frequently asked questions on what drivers need to know before booking a MOT test. Garages that are licensed to provide these tests must make sure that they have the relevant motor trade insurance policy in place, as they will be handling a customer’s car, van or motorbike etc. Here’s what you need to know as a driver.

At what point do I need a MOT test?

Your car will need its first MOT test once it becomes three years old, this is calculated from the date of registration. From this point onwards, it will need to be tested annually to make sure it’s still meeting the necessary standards.

Once your car passes this, you will receive a MOT test certificate. This will include the issue date and the expiry date, helping you remember when the next test is due. If your vehicle fails the necessary checks, you’re allowed to take the car away if the current certificate is still valid and if there are no dangerous problems listed within the updated report. If there are major problems, you will need to undergo repairs before being allowed to drive it.

Regardless of which garage you take it to, the car must meet the minimum roadworthiness standards at all times, failure to do this could result in a fine.

How do I know when my MOT is due?

Anyone who’s lost their most recent MOT certificate can use a tool on the GOV.UK website. Simply enter your vehicle make, model and registration number, and your current MOT and tax status will be shown. Additionally, you can also request a free MOT certificate to replace the one you have lost.

What if I’m passed the expiration date?

MOTs do not come with a grace period. If your certificate has expired, you will not be legally allowed to drive your car on a public road. Anyone not abiding by these laws may face prosecution. Furthermore, a vehicle cannot be taxed without a valid MOT certificate.

Can I drive without a MOT?

As mentioned previously, you will be unable to drive without the necessary certification. However, there is one exception to the rule – you will be able to drive the vehicle to its MOT test, as long as you have pre-booked this. Anyone that does own a vehicle and has no intention of driving it, must keep it off the road and declare it SORN.

Will I fail the test if my car has been recalled?

It is estimated that there are around 2.3 million vehicles in the UK that are subject to outstanding recall notices. There is no legal requirement on your part as an owner to fix a vehicle that has been recalled. However, it is illegal to knowingly sell a vehicle that has a recall notice attached to it.

Anyone who is concerned that their car has been subject to a recall should check the database on the GOV.UK site for further clarification on the matter.

How do I prepare my vehicle for the MOT test?

A number of vehicles will fail the test due to the smallest of issues. Fortunately, these can be prevented before the big day. Many minor problems that result in failure may surprise vehicle owners. It’s highly recommended to carry out your own MOT checklist around 14 days before the inspection is due to take place. This will help you ensure your car is in the best condition it can be in before the testing process begins. It’s also worth noting that should the vehicle fail the test; your original renewal date will have to be changed.

Here’s a checklist for drivers before the MOT:

  • Make sure your car is clean on both the inside and outside.
  • Clean your number plates as these must be readable to pass the test.
  • Check to see if the windscreen wipers are in good condition.
  • Check to see if all lights are functioning correctly. A friend or family member can help you check the outside lights.
  • Check tyre tread and tyre pressure.
  • Top up all fluid levels, this includes engine oil, brake fluid and screen wash.
  • Ensure that mirrors are secure and can be used safely.
  • Check that the horn is functioning.
  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the car’s V5C logbook must match that marked on the car’s bodywork.

To summarise, this guide should give you a brief understanding on the importance of MOTs as well as the steps you need to take as a driver to prepare your vehicle for the examination. Hopefully your car passes the test with flying colours.

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