What You Need To Know Before An MOT Check

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MOT checks can seem like life or death when it comes to your motor, with a fail result potentially rendering your vehicle undriveable. As such, in this post we’re going to cover everything we think you need to know before a vehicle check.

MOT approved centre
Look for the MOT test logo at a centre to know that it’s approved.

What is an MOT check?

An MOT (Ministry of Transport) check is a test to check that your vehicle meets road safety and environment standards. They are legally required for vehicles that are three years old or more and are performed annually. If you’re caught driving a car without an MOT you could receive a fine of up to £2500 as they are required in order to be able to drive or park your vehicle on the road.

How often do you need an MOT?

A vehicle is required to have an MOT on the third anniversary of its registration and annually thereafter. You can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date. However, renewing your MOT any earlier than this time will result in a change of your renewal date.

Remember: if you are leasing a brand-new car for three years or less, it will not need to undergo an MOT check.

MOT inspection

How much does it cost?

MOT test centers can charge a maximum of £54.85 to perform a vehicle check on your car, but many charge less than this. Moreover, you don’t need to pay VAT on this fee.

How long does it take?

On average a vehicle check takes between 45 minutes to an hour, but you are likely to be without your vehicle for a lot longer depending on how the test centre operates.

If your vehicle fails its MOT, the test centre can’t allow you to drive the vehicle prior to it being fixed, unless it’s still covered by the existing MOT. This means if your vehicle is no longer covered, you could be waiting for repairs before you can drive your vehicle.

Moreover, although the test may only take an hour on average, due to scheduling the test centre may require you to drop the vehicle off in the morning and pick it up when it’s ready. This could mean that you will be without your vehicle for the full day.

What is checked during an MOT?

During the MOT key components of your car will be checked to ensure that it is meeting safety and environment standards. The tester will look at the body, the structure and condition of the car, as well as the following areas:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Registration plate
  • Lights
  • Steering and suspension
  • Wipers and washers
  • Windscreen
  • Horn
  • Seat belts and seats
  • Doors
  • Mirrors
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Brakes
  • Fuel system
  • Exhaust system
  • Vehicle emissions

How to prepare for an MOT

  1. Ensure your washer fluid is topped up. If you’re not sure where your reservoir is, open the bonnet and look for an image of a windshield on a plastic cap. Consult your handbook for guidance if necessary.
  2. Clean your vehicle inside and out.
  3. Ensure private number plates are road legal if applicable.
  4. Make sure there is nothing on the windscreen to block the driver’s field of vision.
  5. Ensure any and all dashboard warning lights are dealt with.
  6. Check all headlights, brake lights and indicators work.
  7. Check all tyres have the legal minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. This can easily be done with a 20p coin, by placing the coin into the main tread grooves of each tyre. If the outer band of the coin is obscured, it’s above the legal limit.
  8. Check tyres for splits or cuts.
  9. Check the tyre pressure meets the correct pressure mentioned in your handbook or check your driver’s door for a sticker that shows the recommended PSI levels.
  10. Check the handbrake works correctly and doesn’t slip.
  11. Check that the driver’s seat can be repositioned.
  12. Check seat belts for any damage and ensure that they fasten and lock when tugged.
  13. Ensure that any chips on the windscreen aren’t larger than 10mm on the driver side and 40mm everywhere else.
  14. Check windscreen wipers clean the windscreen properly and look for tears and holes in the rubber.
  15. Check your suspension on each corner by applying your body weight and releasing. Your car should return to the correct position and any signs of bouncing could mean the suspension is worn. Also listen out for knocking noises as this could also suggest an issue with the suspension.
  16. Check the horn works and is suitably loud enough.
  17. Ensure your vehicle is suitably fueled or charged and has enough engine oil.
  18. Check your mirrors are intact.
  19. Ensure your brake fluid is topped up. If you’re not sure where your reservoir is, open the bonnet and look for an opaque/white reservoir in the engine compartment. The reservoir should have markings like full and low on the side and always make sure to use the correct fluid type mentioned on the reservoir cap.

MOT results

MOT service station

Once your vehicle has been tested, the tester will apply one of the following four grades to your vehicle.

1. Pass

If your vehicle passes its MOT, there is nothing for you to worry about and you can simply pay and drive off.

2. Pass with advisories

If your vehicle passes with advisories, it means the tester has made note of issues they feel you should be aware of. This could be anything from approaching minimum tread depth, to signs of corrosion and are likely to cause further issues in the future. It is likely that the tester will recommend checking the car for the mentioned issues a month or so before its next MOT.

3. Pass with minor defects

Passing with a minor defect means that your vehicle has met the necessary safety and environment standards, but there is an issue that you should resolve as soon as possible.

4. Failed with major or dangerous defects

Failing your MOT with major defects means there is a serious issue that you need to fix as soon as possible, but you may drive the vehicle away if it’s still roadworthy and covered by an existing MOT.

If you failed the MOT with a dangerous defect, you won’t be able to drive the vehicle away. This means that if you want the vehicle to be repaired at a different garage, you will need to arrange for it to be towed.

What to do if your vehicle fails its MOT check

In the unfortunate outcome that your vehicle fails its MOT, the first thing you should do is enquire for a written quotation for repairs. This allows you to see how much the garage will charge to fix your vehicle and it gives you a starting point in order to compare prices with other garages.

You should also enquire about estimated labour times and as to when your vehicle would be ready. This gives you another point for comparison with other garages, but it also allows you to see where your vehicle fits in in regard to the retest time frame, which is as follows:

  • If you leave your vehicle at the test centre to be repaired, you have 10 working days to be eligible for a free partial retest.
  • If you take the vehicle to another garage, you may be eligible for a free partial retest if you return the vehicle before the end of the next working day.
  • If you take the vehicle to another garage and return within 10 working days, you may be eligible for a discounted partial retest.
  • If you take longer than 10 working days, you will be required to undergo another full MOT at full price.

Remember: if you’re caught driving without an MOT you could face a fine of up to £2,500.

So, there you have it. Everything you need to know before your next vehicle check. If you’re worried about an upcoming MOT check, why not lease a brand-new car with Moneyshake?  Compare prices now to find special offers on your ideal new car.

For more car news and entertainment, check out the Moneyshake blog.