All you need to know about an MOT

Is your annual MOT something you dread? Or have you just had your first ever reminder through the post and are wondering what all the fuss is about?


All you need to know about an MOT cover image

It’s not like a school test, you can’t cheat your way through, but it also doesn’t require any last minute cramming the night before. Nevertheless, if you want to prepare yourself, here’s our guide to everything you need to know about an MOT.

What is an MOT?

An MOT is a legal requirement in which your car is tested to check that it meets road safety and environmental standards. It should be carried out by a qualified MOT tester at an MOT testing centre.

When do I need to get an MOT?

Your car will be due its MOT either on the third anniversary of its registration or the anniversary of its last MOT if it’s over 3 years old.

You’ll be sent a reminder letter a month before your MOT is due or you can opt to receive text message reminders from

You don’t have to wait until your due date to have the MOT carried out, you can have your MOT carried out up to a month (minus a day) early and still keep the same renewal date. But don’t leave it too late. If you’re caught driving without an MOT you could be prosecuted if caught and fined up to £1,000.

What happens during an MOT?

Only an approved MOT test centre can carry out your MOT, so look out for the blue sign with 3 white triangles. Important parts of your vehicle will be tested to ensure that they meet legal requirements, such as body, fuel system, exhaust, seatbelts, seats, mirrors, wipers, doors, brakes, tyres, wheels and even your registration plate! The test doesn’t cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox. Remember this isn’t the same as having your annual service carried out so don’t forget to arrange that when needed.

How much does it cost?

Prices vary depending on the vehicle, but the maximum cost for a car with up to 8 passenger seats is £54.85.

What happens after the MOT?

You’ll be notified whether your vehicle has passed or failed as soon as the test has been carried out. If your vehicle has passed, you’ll be given a new MOT certificate and it’ll be recorded in the MOT database. You may also be given a list of ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ things to monitor or fix over time but haven’t been deemed serious enough to fail the vehicle. But these should be carefully watched and actioned when possible.

If your vehicle has failed, this means there are more serious problems that mean your vehicle is not road safe. You’ll be given a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ and the failure will be recorded on the MOT database. The repair centre may then give you a cost for having these items fixed and then retested.

You can take your vehicle away if your current MOT certificate is still valid and no dangerous problems were listed. But if you do choose to leave without getting the problems seen to, there is a list of minimum requirements your car must meet before you can drive away.

You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle that has failed its MOT because of a ‘dangerous’ problem.

+ More