[UPDATED] A Definitive Guide to Car MOT: Is Your Car MOT Due?
When you’re a car owner, you specifically have to be on top of your MOT tests, ensuring you don’t accidentally pass the due date cause’ there is a hefty fine for it, or you don’t fail it. UK Law is pretty stringent when it comes to driving a car which is not in a roadworthy condition. Which is why MOT is never exempted, and you have to make sure you have a valid certificate. If you constantly as yourself is my car MOT due? How can I check my due date? and many other such questions, this MOT guide is here to answer them all.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the government had given a 6-month extension to the car’s whose MOT was pending. But with recent relaxation and opening up of offices and other places, we saw an increase in the traffic which led to the general threat of having so many cars with their MOT due. For this reason, the extension has been rolled back, and if your car MOT is due after July, you will be required to test your vehicles and get an updated certificate per usual.
Let’s have a look at all the general doubts and questions that surround MOT.
What is an MOT test?
An MOT test, also known as the Ministry of Transport test, is a simple way to gauge the roadworthiness of your car and to ensure it matches the legal requirement for driving a vehicle, whether it is a bike, car, van, or a bus. It entails an extensive check of internal and external parts, making sure they are all working as per the standard level.
Please note that an MOT test only checks the parts, and the mechanics are not allowed to change or remove the parts during the MOT. You can opt for repair later on.
Since MOT is a visual check, you must also keep up with your regular car service for your car’s health and your safety.
When do I need an MOT?
Once your car nears its third anniversary, you’re legally required to obtain an MOT certificate which your car has passed. After the third year, you will have to get the car checked annually before the expiry date from an approved MOT test centre.
Who will test my car for MOT?
DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) is responsible for the MOTs and it is required to carry it out by qualified and approved ‘Nominated Tester’ (NT). If you’re unsure if a garage is approved for MOT testing, you can spot a blue sign with three white triangles on the display, which is the official logo of an MOT.
Booking my car for an MOT – Where can I go?
There are three options to choose from when it comes to booking an MOT. You can either go to the main dealer or franchise that are associated with your car manufacturer. They come costly but may be a good option if you have very complicated repairs.
You can also choose branded chains or an independent garage as they do the work at a way lower cost than a franchise, and you can even get your repairs done in case you fail the test.
How much is the payment for an MOT test?
The Government caps the test at £54.85 excluding VAT, so make sure you’re not paying more than this. Most of the independent garages offer Free or discounted MOT with service, which is a great offer if your car service is also pending. Make sure you lookout for the costs and enter a garage that matches your budget.
Who is exempt from MOT?
Like every other thing, we have exceptions when it comes to the MOT test. If you drive a historic vehicle which is over 40 years old from the date of the first registration, you are exempted from the MOT provided they haven’t been substantially changed in the past 30 years.
During taxation, you will have to mention that your vehicle comes under the exception rule, and make sure it is in a roadworthy condition.
Is my Car MOT due?
If your car is fairly new, your MOT is due three years after the registration date. Please note that this is only for new cars and not second-hand cars. For example, if your car was registered on November 1, 2017, your car MOT is due no later than November 1, 2020.
As for car owners who have passed the three years, your car MOT is due every year. So taking the previous example, you will have to get an MOT test no later than November 1, 2021.
To check your car MOT due date and other information, you can check it on the government website with just your vehicle’s registration number.
The penalties of not having a valid MOT
If you’re unable to produce a valid MOT certificate when stopped by the police, you can receive a maximum fine of up to £1,000. Furthermore, your car insurance becomes invalid without an MOT certificate, so you will have to pay for the repairs and damage yourself. And, if your insurance is invalid, you could also receive a fine and points on your licence. You’ll also be unable to renew your road tax with an expired MOT.
What can you do if you have lost your MOT Certificate?
Duplicate forms can be obtained from any test centre, but there is usually a fee (about £10).
How do I prepare my car for an MOT test?
According to the data, 40% of the vehicle owners fail their MOT test because of not pertaining to the standard level of maintenance. To make sure you want to pass on your first try, pay attention to the following points:
- Starting with the basics, your horn should be working accurately.
- Moving on to the look of the car, make sure your windscreen washer and wipers are in good condition. You can fill your screenwash, and replace any broken wipers from any shop.
- Check all the mirrors including the windscreen for any crack or dirt.
- It is very crucial to ensure the 5 most important oil and fluid levels are up to the mark.
- Check all the lights of the car, and make sure they are all working, including the fog lights and number plate lights.
- All the doors and locks should be working properly.
- Make sure your car’s brakes are working efficiently.
- Check your steering and suspension condition.
- For safety purposes, the seat belts should be working without any hiccups, roughness, and are in good condition.
- Check the condition of the tyres along with their tread depth, ensuring it is at a minimum of 1.6mm. Make sure you also check the spare tyre.
- Your exhaust should be working accurately.
- The number plate of the car should be visible and clean.
- Make sure the warning light isn’t on, and if it is, have it checked before the MOT.
- Keep your car clean and tidy.
Car MOT Checklist
The MOT test can be overwhelming, especially if you don’t know what parts and aspects of the vehicle are going to be checked. The checklist shared below will help you get better prepared for the MOT, and guarantee a pass certificate.
- The first step is to keep the insides and outside of your car clean. Clear all the unnecessary things from the boot, as it can lead to an examiner refusing to carry out the MOT.
- Your number plates should be visible and readable. Give it a clean if it is not.
- Check all the lights, including rear lights, brake lights, indicators, fog lights, and hazard light. You can ask someone to stand outside the car and confirm if they are working.
- All the mirrors of your car should be free from cracks and clean – driver’s visibility is an important aspect.
- The tyre pressure and tread should be within the manufacturer’s limit.
- All the car fluid – engine oil, brake oil, screenwash, etc should be topped up.
- Make sure your windscreen wipers are working and in an excellent condition.
- Make sure your horn works.
- It is very crucial that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from your car’s V5C logbook must match the one that is marked on your vehicle.
Checking your Brakes
Brake is a very important part of the vehicle that keeps you safely on the road. An Examiner looks at your brake in detail, testing its capability, functionality, and overall look. The car is put on a roller, and the brake is judged on how effectively it decelerates it. The ABS warning lights should be working if the anti-lock brake system is used.
You must also pay attention to the brake pads, pedal rubber, handbrake, discs, callipers, and all the other parts of the brake. Additionally, the servo and master cylinder are also examined by the tester.
When it comes to bodywork, most car owners tend to ignore this aspect. Sharp edges caused by corrosion or accidents may be harmful to the driver and the pedestrians. You should also make sure that your car is free from rust, especially in crucial areas like steering and brakes.
MOT examiners also test the doors and other openings of the car. Make sure your door can be opened from inside & outside, whereas the bonnet and hood can be securely shut.
Exhaust and Emissions
Your vehicle’s emission is tested using special equipment. The legal limit of the emission is different for older and new cars, with more strict measures for newer cars.
Other parts that are checked are the exhaust system, the fuel filler cap, and the smoke from the tailpipe. There are very important parts of an MOT check, so make sure you have this covered.
Windows and mirrors
The chips and crack on the windscreen area should be limited to 10mm, as windscreen damage is a common cause of MOT failure. You should also pay attention to other mirrors, wipes, rubber blades, rear-view mirrors, etc because any fault in them could reduce the driver’s visibility.
Seats and seatbelts
Seatbelts are a legal requirement for all the cars post-1965. Make sure they are securely fixed, work effortlessly, and are in a good condition.
Inertia-reel belts should also retract properly to fit around the driver.
The horns of the car should work efficiently and be loud enough so that it is audible to other vehicles. Also, tunes and other sounds are not allowed.
All the lights should be functioning, which includes headlights, tail lights, indicators, sidelights, brake lights, and rear fog lights. The tester also checks the alignment of the headlights. Moreover, the cars built after April 1980 should have two red rear reflectors.
Steering faults can end you up with a failed MOT certificate. It is better if you get the steering wheel & column check before the MOT inspection, as these faults are not easy to detect. The inspectors have a look at the steering bearings, bolts, gaiters, clamps, and the joints. The power-steering is also tested with the engine running.
Wheels and Tyres
Your tyres and wheels are an important part of road safety and naturally are very deeply inspected during an MOT. Ensure that all the wheels are securely attached to the car and are in good condition, with all the rims safely attached and none of the bolts missing.
The tread depth should also be within the stated law which is at least “At least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread around the entire outer circumference of the tyre”.
You can find your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in the vehicle logbook. This number should match with the one at the base of the windscreen, or on a stamped metal panel under the bonnet.
What happens if my car fails the MOT?
Don’t worry, many cars fail their MOT and you can fix the problems and have it retested. Many test centres will retest your car for free if the repairs are carried out at their garage.
For this purpose, it is advised to get your MOT done at least 3-4 weeks in advance to ensure you have enough time for repairs if any. You won’t lose any days as the new MOT will come into existence on the date of the expiry.
There are four types of problems that are highlighted in an MOT. “Dangerous” or “Major” Problems will make you fail the MOT test and you might not be allowed to drive until you fix them.
As for ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ problems, you need to monitor them and fix them in the near future.
Your car will fail if the results show ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ problems. Also, you might not be allowed to drive until you fix the problems.
You might also get a list of ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ problems to monitor or fix in the future.
This is what happens when you fail an MOT test:
- 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.
You can take your vehicle away if:
- Your MOT is still valid – i.e, you have a few days before your expiration date
- Your car did not have any of the ‘dangerous’ problems.
Always remember to meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times, or you can be fined. If you’re driving a car which has failed its MOT due to a ‘dangerous’ issue, you can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving, and get 3 penalty points.
In case your MOT is already expired, you can only take out your car to drive it to the test centre. If stopped by the police, you will have to submit a proof that you’re on your way to get an MOT.
This brings us to the end of the MOT guide which answers all your questions like is my car MOT due? And what happens if I fail the test? And so on.
I hope this was informative.
Feel free to leave your questions/doubts in the comments below.