UK’s Complete MOT Checklist Guide
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Carrying Out Comprehensive Pre-MOT Checks
Check what to do if and when your vehicle fails
DVLA MOT Checklist updated 15th February 2021
Get your vehicle checked and ready for its annual MOT test.
Whether you are a newbie driver or have just bought a secondhand car, find everything you need to save time and money on vehicle checklist MOT maintenance.
Table of contents
- When do I need an MOT?
- MOT due date
- MOT status
- MOT after expiry date
- Can I drive without a valid MOT certificate?
- My car has been recalled, will it fail its MOT?
- MOT preparation
- MOT pre-check
- Common MOT failure list
The MOT Itself
- Getting an MOT
- MOT cost
- Council MOT test centre pass rate
- How long does an MOT take and what is checked?
- MOT pass
- MOT advisory
If your vehicle fails the MOT
See what your vehicle could fail on with a list of past advisory items and mileages between MOT tests
Provides a free car check report with road tax and MOT test certificate status, export marker, car insurance check
(All UK cars, motorcycles and light commercials Post 2005)
2. Questions about an MOT that only DVLA may answer
3. Useful guides & citations
4. Road tax information
5. askMID Insurance
First MOT and MOT renewals
Do I need an MOT?
Most Vehicles in the UK will need to have a valid and current MOT certificate. However, there are some exceptions.
Your vehicle’s date of registration or the date it was built, which can be found in the V5C document, determines whether an MOT certificate or road tax is required.
If your vehicle was built or registered less than 40 years ago, you will be required to have a valid MOT test after three years of its registration date.
Conditions under which a vehicle is exempt from needing an MOT certificate:
- The vehicle was registered or built more than 40 years ago.
- No significant changes have been made to the vehicle within the last 30-years. Including but not limited to replacing the engine, chassis, axle or body shell changing the way the vehicle looks.
- Goods vehicles powered by electricity and registered before 1st March 2015
- Various historic cars
- Lorries, Buses and trailers do not need an MOT but are subject to other annual tests. Therefore, if you own a car that was registered in the last 40 years and doesn’t satisfy the points above you will need a valid MOT certificate, read the next section to find out when.
Note, an MOT exemption may not be the only area in which your vehicle has entitlements, including road tax exemption.
A vehicle does not need a road fund license if built before 1st January 1979.
In order to qualify for this, motorists must apply for vehicle tax exemption so they can cease paying road tax, classed as ‘Historic Tax Class’. Visit Gov.uk for further detail
For MOT exemption, you do not need to reapply each year as this is stipulated by vehicle age.
Despite being MOT exempt, the vehicle must remain in roadworthy condition or the owner can be fined up to £2,500 and obtain 3 penalty points on their driving license for ‘using a vehicle in a dangerous condition’.
Image displaying the date or reg on a V5C registration document (logbook)
What is MOT due date?
New vehicles up to 3-years old don’t need an MOT. At the 3-year mark, the first MOT is due to measure minimum standards of roadworthiness.
Some vehicles need to get an MOT sooner than three years:
Private Passenger Vehicles (9 to 12 seaters, 13 to 16 seaters, more than 16 seaters)
Play or Party Buses
These must all be tested at 12 months after the registration date. Gov.uk provide a full round-up of dates and costs for getting an inaugural MOT test.
After your vehicle passes its test, you get an MOT certificate online, which includes the expiry date/ due date of the next test.
You can get your vehicle retested before its expiry date (up to a month minus one day). The vehicle gets the original renewal date resulting in a 13-month MOT.
How can I check MOT status?
If you are buying a vehicle, ensure there is a current MOT. Use the following link and run a free MOT status check. We provide other useful information like SORN status, road tax checks, import status and basic vehicle information.
Enter a car reg for an MOT status check
If you would like a fresh hard copy of the MOT certificate Gov.uk will send a replacement for free. You need the vehicle registration (number plate) and the 11-digit number from the vehicle logbook (V5C). Use the following link to get a replacement: https://www.check-mot.service.gov.uk/
Click to display an image of the 11-digital logbook reference number
Is there a grace period after MOT expiry date?
Note – there is no grace period after MOT expiration. The vehicle must be retested or declared as SORN
Once your MOT expires it is not legal to drive on the road.
Driving without a valid MOT:
Under Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 you could face 6 – 8 points on your license and a fine of up to £1000.
The only exception to this is driving to a scheduled MOT test, however, be prepared to provide proof of this as you may be asked to do so.
- You cannot tax a vehicle without a current MOT certificate
- It is also illegal to drive a car without road tax
- Unlike driving without a valid MOT certificate, there are no exceptions
- Your car insurance will also no longer be valid when you are driving without a current MOT certificate
Gov.uk do offer a service for free reminders a month before your MOT is due, either via email or text message.
For more information, see Gov.uk get a free MOT reminder.
Can I drive my car without a valid MOT?
This is only permitted when driving to a pre-booked MOT test.
SORN with DVLA
Note, if you have a vehicle and do not plan to drive it, declare as SORN ‘Statutory Off Road Notification‘ (see our full guide). That way, you don’t need to tax, insure or have a valid MOT.
Do safety recalls impact MOT tests?
Recalls mean a manufacturer has deemed a component of the vehicle a potential road safety risk.
(CarVeto provides safety recall notifications via our free checks).
Currently, it’s legal to drive a vehicle with a recall notice, ‘unless told otherwise’. You are under no obligation to get your own car fixed due to a recall notice.
But note, it is illegal to sell a car with a recall notice.
DVSA is looking to align the MOT tests with the recall safety checks. There may be a law introduced whereby vehicles will not pass their MOT if there are outstanding recall notice safety issues to be fixed.
What is MOT prep?
Around one-third of vehicles fail their MOT on its first test. Common reasons include bulbs and wipers. Both inexpensive to buy and simple to fit.
Below is a comprehensive MOT preparation checklist to get your vehicle ready. The idea is to proactively fix any minor issues and get a first-time pass.
How do I carry out a MOT Pre Check?
- Ensure your car’s interior is clean including the boot and bodywork. An examiner could refuse to carry out the MOT test if your car is cluttered and dirty
- Check that your windscreen wipers don’t have any tears and are in a good condition
- Ensure all the lights are working including brake, reverse, indicators and fog lights
- Check tyre pressures – national averages are 37psi
- Check fluid levels and top them up if needed, this includes; brake fluid, oil, screen wash and coolants
- Ensure the horn is working
- Check all mirrors, looking for cracked or falling apart
- Check your cars VIN in the V5C logbook matches your cars bodywork
Car brakes must meet UK safety standards
The brake condition is usually tested by examining the discs, pads and callipers, the ABS warning light and anti-lock brakes, the relevant pipes and cables and the servo and master cylinder under the bonnet.
Tests include putting the vehicle on a rolling road.
Brake pedal rubbers are also examined for excessive wear. This item is inexpensive to buy and fit.
Excessive corrosion and rust is deemed dangerous.
Obviously, rust and corrosion are more common on aged vehicles and particular makes and models are more susceptible to failure.
As a legal requirement, corrosion on the bodywork, sharp edges or accidental damage will fail the MOT test, mostly as they can harm pedestrians.
Your doors must be able to open from the inside and outside of the vehicle, this includes the boot and bonnet. If they cannot be shut securely then this may result in a failure.
Emissions and air quality are hot topics as laws continue to toughen.
The legal emission limit can vary depending on the type of car you have.
Ensure the fuel filler cap is in good condition.
Your horn must be working properly and be loud enough to be heard inside another vehicle.
All lights must be in working order including:
- Tail lights
- Brake lights
- Hazard lights
- Front and rear fog lights
- Reverse lights
The alignment of your headlights will be checked to ensure they do not dazzle (when lights are pointing in the direct vision of an oncoming vehicle).
Fog lights are not required on cars built before 1986.
All cars built after 1980 must have two rear red reflectors.
All seats must have seat belts securely fixed (vehicles built after 1965). The belts must be retractable and fit around passengers and driver normally. The locking mechanism must be fully working and in good condition to ensure maximum safety.
The steering wheel and column need to be in good working condition and fixed into a sturdy position. All components of the steering are checked for wear and tear and the power steering will be tested with the engine on (this includes the power steering rack for any oil leaks).
The wheels must not foul or braise the bodywork when on full lock.
A tow bar for pulling a trailer or caravan must be in good condition with no corrosion or damage (including the electric hookups). It must also be fitted securely to pass the MOT.
The cars VIN number (or chassis number) found in the V5C registration document must be readable and displayed either on the windscreen, inner door pillar, under the bonnet or inside the boot well.
Wheel and tyre condition are important. They must be securely fitted, the same size with no missing parts like bolts or hubcaps.
They will be examined for damage including the rims and wheel bearings (a worn bearing tends to make a rumbling sound when the vehicle is at speed). There must be no cracks, corrosion or distortion.
The legal minimum tread depth must be 1.6mm. If your tyres are close to this, you will get an advisory note. There must be no cuts or bulges to tyre walls.
The spare wheel or repair kit must also be in good working order.
A common cause for an MOT failure is damage to the windscreen. There must be no cracks or chips over 10 mm if within the area of the windscreen wipers (or drivers vision area). Outside of driver viewing areas, there are to be no cracks or chips over 40 mm otherwise the vehicle will fail its MOT.
With this, the rearview mirror and windscreen wipers will be checked and must be in good working condition.
MOT test checklist
Where should I go to get my MOT?
Opt for a well-known and trusted garage. When booking your MOT, be sure to check for the approved test centre sign.
Note, you can always opt to get your MOT at a local council MOT test centre, although they do not carry out check listed repairs. This can be beneficial as council test centres are impartial and don’t look to profit from potential repair work.
Here is a list of council MOT centres
Or see this guide to council MOT test centres by region
Image displaying the approved MOT test centre logo
How much does an MOT cost?
MOT costs vary dependent on the vehicle. The price can also vary in each test centre.
The government have set maximum fees for each vehicle type. These pricing standards apply to all UK test centres.
Use the next link for a list of maximum MOT fees for each vehicle type, provided by the Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/getting-an-mot/mot-test-fees
Up to 200cc and over 200cc motorcycle £29.65 (with sidecar £37.80) Here is our motorcycle MOT check resource guide
3-Wheeler vehicles up to 450kg £37.80
3-Wheeler vehicles over 450kg £54.85
Cars up to 8 passenger seats £54.85
Motorhomes (motor caravans) £54.85
Dual-purpose vehicles £54.85
Service vehicles such as private hire £54.85
Taxis and ambulances £54.85
Private hire 9 to 12 seaters £57.30
Private hire vehicles and ambulances 13 to 16 seaters £59.55
Private hire vehicles and ambulances over 16 seaters £80.65
Goods vehicles up to 3,000kg £54.85
Goods vehicle over 3,000kg up to 3,500kg £58.60
Class 4 vehicles with 9 to 12 passenger seats £64
Class 5 vehicles 13 to 16 seaters £80.50
Class 5 vehicles more than 16 seaters £124.50
Play buses £80.60
Local authority MOT test centres
As mentioned, council run MOT test centres do not carry out repairs. It means they are not looking to profiteer from MOT repair work.
If you are worried about unscrupulous garages trying to make money out of you then the safest bet is to go to a council MOT test centre, an MOT only garage or a trusted garage that has been recommended to you.
How long does an MOT take?
What’s covered in an MOT?
You can leave your vehicle at the MOT centre and return later. As you are pre-booked, you can also wait whilst the test is completed. Centres also offer an ‘MOT viewing area’.
Tests take 45 minutes to an hour excluding repairs.
The following areas are tested in the MOT:
● Tyres: Including the condition of the tyres and tread depth
● Brakes: Including the braking efficiency and the pedals overall condition
● Steering: Including the condition of the steering wheel and strength of steering
● Electrical equipment: Including brake lights, headlights, fog lights and indicators
● Seat belts and seats: Including the general condition and safety of the seat belts
● Exhaust and emissions: Including any leaks in the fuel system and exhaust
● Suspension: Including shock absorbers and any wear and corrosion
● Vehicle Identification Number (VIN): Ensuring the vehicle displays its VIN
● Mirrors, wipers and windscreens: Including the condition of the wiper blades and any damage to the windscreen
What is an MOT pass?
A vehicle passes its MOT when it meets the minimum road safety standards.
You will receive an MOT certificate from the test centre and all the information will be instantly recorded in the MOT database.
Passing an MOT means the car is safe, legal and roadworthy. But, the vehicle will need ongoing checks and maintenance to keep it in good condition to drive.
If your vehicle has passed with some minor defects, this means that they were not severe enough to have failed the MOT but need to be repaired soon or during the next test.
You may also have passed with some advisory defects, this means that the area is not defective yet but has significant wear that may need repairing in the future. You may need to be aware of these for your next MOT.
What is MOT advisory?
The advisory section of an MOT test result is important.
It lets you know there are minor faults with the vehicle. Such defects are not deemed dangerous and unroadworthy or an MOT failure.
However, the advisory section suggests the faults are repaired or replaced immediately as they are likely to wear and become dangerous shortly.
An advisory notice is possibly most important when relating to tyres and brakes that endure significant stress and will degrade quickly.
Our best-practice stipulates MOT advisory items are repaired or replaced during MOT renewal
- If you are buying a vehicle that is near MOT renewal, we suggest your purchase includes a 12-month MOT that is assured without an MOT advisory list (this is most likely when buying a vehicle from a car dealership)
- There is a significant chance that advisory car parts will need repairing or replacing at the time of the subsequent MOT test. The current owner will be liable for those costs
- For small, inexpensive items such as a minor exhaust manifold gasket leak, the cost will be relatively small. However, leaking driveshafts, worn tyres or power steering rack issue can easily reach up into many hundreds of pounds of repair bills
We recommend accessing a free CarVeto check to review the MOT history of a vehicle you plan to buy. We list all failed and advised car parts on any vehicle registered in the UK from new since 2005
Enter a car reg number in the field below to view a free, instant MOT history report.
Image displaying an MOT advisory certificate
What is MOT failure?
Look over our MOT failure rules guide for a detailed look.
Why do most vehicles fail their MOT?
There are some common reasons for vehicles failing their MOT, these can be faults with their suspension, lights and brakes.
Here are a few of the top issues and the percentage of failure rate:
- Lighting and signalling are the biggest issues, causing 30% of defects
- Suspension (20%)
- Brakes (17%)
- Tyres (10%)
Use the following link to view a VT30 refusal of an MOT test certificate example provided by Gov.uk (secure PDF download).
What are MOT failure rules?
There are different categories of defects with a vehicle:
If your vehicle has a minor fault, your car will pass its MOT and you can drive it away. You are not obliged to get the minor faults fixed right away but should have a look at getting them fixed as soon as possible
However, if your vehicle has a major or dangerous fault you will not pass your MOT test and will receive the VT30 refusal of an MOT certificate (pictured above).
If your car gets a dangerous fault then it cannot be driven until it has been fixed even if your previous MOT certificate is still valid. If you get a major fault, then the repair needs to be done as soon as possible either at the MOT test centre or towed to a workshop of your choice.
Can you drive your car away if it fails the MOT?
You can still drive with a failed MOT certificate as long as your previous MOT is still in date. This would mean you had your MOT test up to a month before the MOT renewal date. You can only continue to drive with major faults, however, and not dangerous faults.
The major faults will need to be fixed to get a new MOT certificate.
We never recommend driving a vehicle that has failed its MOT.
If your vehicle has any serious faults then it will fail its MOT, in this case, you can only drive your vehicle if:
Your MOT certificate is still in date and valid
You have no dangerous faults in the new MOT test
If the following does not apply to your situation, (i.e, your vehicle has dangerous faults) you will need to repair all the faults before your vehicle is roadworthy and legal to drive.
According to the DVSA, your car must meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness otherwise you could be fined up to £1000 for illegally driving with no valid or current MOT certificate.
There are two exceptions to this:
You are driving your car to an MOT test that is pre-booked
You are driving your car to a garage to repair any faults (provided they are not deemed as ‘dangerous’)
Getting repairs done after an MOT failure list
Once you have failed your MOT you have a few options on how to proceed. The test centre will let you know the areas that need repairing.
The most common option is to have repairs carried out at the MOT test centre. This could take a day or two depending on the faults. Usually, the car will be retested or have a partial test after all the faults have been fixed.
Partial MOT test
What is a partial retest: An MOT retest that only examines the parts of a vehicle that failed. Partial tests may be free or carry a modest fee (usually around 20% of the standard MOT test fee)
If the repairs take longer than 10 days a partial test will not be sufficient. In this case, the vehicle must undergo a new MOT test and be charged the full fee.
The partial test can be free for certain areas including tyres, mirrors, wheels, doors, and wipers.
It is possible to take the car to a different garage to get the repairs done and then return to the original garage for a partial retest.