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M.O.T

When to get an MOT

The MOT test checks that your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. You must get an MOT for your vehicle by either:

  • The third anniversary of its registration
  • anniversary of its last MOT, if it’s over 3 years old
  • Some vehicles need to be tested at one year old - check the MOT fees table to see which. You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.

Earliest date you can get an MOT

An MOT lasts for a year. The date it runs out is printed on the last pass certificate. You can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date.

Example
If your MOT runs out on 15 May, the earliest you can get an MOT to keep the same renewal date for next year is 16 April. You can get an MOT earlier, but the MOT renewal date for the following year will be different. The MOT text reminder service finished in August 2014.

About the MOT

The MOT tests some important items on your vehicle to check that they meet the legal standards. It isn’t the same as having your vehicle serviced and doesn’t check its general mechanical condition. The test doesn’t cover the condition of the:

  • engine
  • clutch
  • gearbox

If the MOT has run out

You can’t drive your vehicle on the road if the MOT has run out. You can be prosecuted if caught.

The only exceptions are to drive it:
  • To or from somewhere to be repaired
  • A pre-arranged MOT test

There are different rules and processes in Northern Ireland for MOTs for vehicles registered in Northern Ireland.

How the MOT test works

During the MOT, important parts on your vehicle will be checked to make sure they meet the legal standards. You can watch the test from a viewing area but you’re not allowed to interrupt the tester.

Car parts tested in the MOT

These are some of the important parts of your car that will be checked in the MOT.

MOT test result

Your vehicle can either pass or fail the MOT. If it fails, you’ll get a list of things that need to be fixed.

Passing the MOT

If your vehicle passes the MOT:

  • You’ll get an MOT certificate from the test centre
  • It will be recorded in the MOT database

Failing the MOT

If your vehicle fails the MOT:

  • You’ll get a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ from the test centre
  • It will be recorded in the MOT database
  • You can appeal the result if you think it’s wrong.

Taking your vehicle away for repairs

You can take your vehicle away if your MOT certificate is still valid.

If your MOT has run out you can take your vehicle to:

  • Have the failed defects fixed
  • A pre-arranged MOT test appointment

In both cases, your vehicle still needs to meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times or you can be fined.

Leaving your vehicle for repair

You only need a partial retest if you leave the vehicle at the test centre for repair and it’s retested within 10 working days. There’s no fee for this.

Driving a vehicle that’s failed

You can take your vehicle away if your MOT certificate is still valid.

If your MOT has run out you can take your vehicle to:

  • Have the failed defects fixed
  • A pre-arranged MOT test appointment

In both cases, your vehicle still needs to meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times or you can be fined. You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

Retest after a repair

In some cases your vehicle can have a partial retest for free or a reduced MOT fee.

Taking it back for a retest the next working day

You won’t have to pay again if you take it back to the same test centre before the end of the next working day for a partial retest on one or more of these items:

  • access panels
  • battery
  • bonnet
  • bootlid
  • brake pedal antislip
  • break glass hammer (class 5 vehicles only)
  • doors (including hinges, catches and pillars)
  • door open warning device (class 5 vehicles only)
  • dropsides
  • electrical wiring
  • emergency exits and signs (class 5 vehicles only)
  • entrance door remote control (class 5 vehicles only)
  • entrance/exit steps (class 5 vehicles only)
  • fuel filler cap
  • headlamp cleaning or levelling devices (that doesn’t need a headlamp aim check)
  • horn
  • lamps (excluding headlamp aim)
  • loading door
  • main beam ‘tell-tale’
  • mirrors
  • rear reflectors
  • registration plates
  • seatbelts (but not anchorages), seatbelt load limiter and seatbelt pre-tensioner
  • seats
  • sharp edges or projections
  • stairs (class 5 vehicles only)
  • steering wheel
  • tailboard
  • tailgate
  • trailer electrical sockets
  • towbars (excluding body around anchorage points)
  • tyre pressure monitoring system
  • vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • windscreen glass, wipers and washers
  • wheels and tyres (excluding motorcycles and motorcycles with sidecar)

Taking it back for a retest within 10 working days

You’ll only need a partial retest if you take the vehicle from the test centre for repairs and take it back within 10 working days. You can be charged a partial retest fee for this.

Mileage reading

The MOT certificate will show the mileage recorded at the current and previous 3 test passes. This is shown as the ‘odometer reading and history’. Report any mistakes with the latest reading to the MOT centre within 7 days. They will give you a replacement certificate. Mistakes on an earlier mileage can’t be changed.

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