The Ultimate MOT Guide


In the UK by law, each vehicle more than three years of age requires a yearly MOT test and an MOT certificate to be able to drive on UK streets. Be that as it may, what’s it about?

The MOT test measure is entirely a secretive one to car owners. Consistently you’re needed to leave your vehicle at a garage, at that point sit down, pause, and hope it doesn’t mean a major bill for fixes.

However, understanding MOTs is significant with regards to purchasing, selling, moving possession just as driving your vehicle securely.

Not having a valid certificate could mean getting a fine, adding points to your licence, and a driving ban. Additionally, it can highly affect the value when you’re purchasing or selling a vehicle.

This MOT guide was created to help you understand the intricate details of an MOT and what it all means, how to pass the test and much more.


What is an MOT?

The MOT was first introduced in 1960 and the abbreviation stands for Ministry of Transport. This was the government department that was put in charge of the public roads.

When the MOT was first introduced it was only required for cars that were 10+ years old, however, since then the age has dropped and the testing points has also expanded from when the MOT first started.

The entire purpose of the MOT test is to ensure that a car is roadworthy, is safe to drive and is not bellowing out CO2 emissions into the air. As car’s have changed, new science brought forward and public knowledge of pollution the test has evolved with the car.

From 50cc scooters to lorries, the MOT test was designed to minimise any health and safety risks to the public and drivers too. In May 2018, the UK government added new tougher measures which caused over 1 million cars to be marked as ‘dangerous’.

An MOT test will include a range of checks throughout your car, internal and external. These are all required to meet a minimum safety standard which has been put in place by the DVSA (Driving and Vehicle Standards Authority). Here’s a basic list of what MOT checks include:

  • Check if the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) is visible.
  • Ensure number plates are secured and can be read.
  • Lights
  • Brakes
  • Wheels/Types
  • Mirrors
  • Doors
  • Bodywork
  • Emissions
  • Fuel System
  • Seats
  • Seatbelts
  • Horn
  • Windscreen + wipers + washer bottle
  • Steering
  • Suspension

The checks are actually straightforward and most of which can be checked at home before going to the test. This can help with avoiding restest fee’s and lost time with the car.

How do you show that you have an MOT?

Left shows the old certificate, right shows the new certificate as of 2018

If your car passes the MOT test you will then get a VT20 MOT Pass Certificate. Please note that the design of the MOT certificate has changed from 2018, as you can see above.

If the car happens to fail the MOT test then you will be given a VT30 MOT Failure Certificate. As a note, if the MOT computer system is down the garage owner can fill out a ‘Contingency MOT test certificate’ in the mean time.

Replacing a lost/damaged MOT certificate

It is required for you to have a valid MOT certificate so if it happens to get lost or damaged you need to get a replacement, which is straightforward to do.

Because the MOT is stored on a central system you can get the certificate printed from any garage that carries out MOT’s. You do not need to go to the exact one that you had the test at.

All that needs to happen is for you to provide the vehicle registration information, V5C log book number. You will have to pay either £10 or half of the full MOT test fee, whatever one is the smaller amount.

You can get a car MOT check online to know when it runs out and previous MOT history but you cannot order a replacement MOT online.

Which cars are not required to have an MOT?

There are 2 types of cars that do not require an MOT. Classic cars which were manufactured or registered 40+ years ago which have not been heavily altered or modified. If a car is less than 3 years old, it does not need to have an MOT test due to manufacturer warranties and guarantees.

Own a historic vehicle but not sure if it requires an MOT? Check out this Department for Transport guide which provides specific advice on the make and model of your car.

You will be requirement to fill out an MOT exemption form – Form V112. This form will also be needed if you want to fill out the car tax exemption form too.

How do you check an MOT online?

There are a number of platforms that provide a free MOT check. These are incredibly useful if you want to check the MOT history of a used car that you are interested in. Also if you misplace the certificate and need to know when the car is due for an MOT, you can use a free 3rd party provider.

All the is needed is the vehicle’s VRM/number plate and you will get an instant MOT check.

How do you check your MOT history?

As mentioned above, most 3rd party vehicle history data providers will also give you the MOT history of a car. A platform like generally gives you the MOT details and history plus much more details about the handy which is always handy to have on record.

These platforms provide a range of products that are free and very low-cost for the information that you get.

How do you check when your MOT is due?

If you are caught driving without a valid MOT the consequences can be quite severe. A fine of up to £2500, three penalty points and a potential driving ban too.

Checking when your MOT is due is very simple and you have 2 options. Firstly, you can use an online service as mentioned above. Secondly, you can check the VT20 MOT Pass certificate which will give you the due date too.

How does the MOT affect car tax and insurance?

Simply put – an MOT is a legal requirement which means that if it is missing then you cannot get any road tax or insurance for the car.

Do you need a valid MOT to get tax for a car?

Please remember that if the car is not being driven on the road, it needs to be declare SORN (Statutory Off Road Notification) otherwise you will be fined for having no MOT or Tax.

A valid MOT is required to get tax for your car. The complications can arise when both tax and MOT are due. In this instance it makes sense to MOT the car 30 days before it is due, followed up with road tax.

Is a valid MOT required to get insurance for your car?

How much does an MOT cost?

The maximum cost of a MOT test, set by the DVSA, is £54.85. There is no minimum fee in place. The test should not take less than 45 minutes, as per the instructions of the DVSA.

Be prepared for a price war from local garages who will try to bring you in with low cost MOT tests. Remember that if you believe there will be expensive costs associated with the car passing an MOT, you should shop around for the per-hour pricing too.

With the updated rules in 2018 it means that if your car has a dangerous fault, you may not be allowed to drive it away form the garage until it has been fixed. This can be expensive if the garage charges a high fee for the work they carry out.

You could try to use council MOT test centres who are not able to sell repairs or parts. Therefore there is no incentive to find any faults or issues with the car to charge you repair fee’s. Council MOT test centres are generally used for council vehicles but are legally required to be open to the public.

If the car fails the MOT test but is repaired and retested within 10 day’s, there are no additional retest fee’s.

How do I find a garage that does MOTs?

There are no companies who will collect your car, drive it to the test centre and bring it back for you.

It’s best to start everything with a Google search. Local garages will be visible via the maps so you can shop around quite easily.

Remember to ask for any referrals from friends and family as they might know someone really good.

Can I sell a car without a valid MOT?

Yes you can but remember that there will be inevitably some downsides to doing so.

Firstly, there’s no test driving for the buyer as the car cannot be legally driven on public roads. This requires a trailer or some form of transportation and many private buyers do not have these.

A car without a valid MOT means a much lower valuation and asking price than a car with a valid MOT. This is because of the unknown factors of the car passing the test or having a large repair bill. This drastically decreases the size of interested buyers.

Also, if a car does not have a valid MOT it can cause some alarm bells to ring for private buyers too.

Who buys cars without an MOT?

This is another area that new companies are appearing. These online car buying platforms and trade dealers will generally be your best place for selling a car without an MOT. Private buyers usually want a working car that can be driven away.

Online car buyers and trade people all have the transport capabilities to collect and move cars around so it’s much easier for them than private.

Remember that the car’s value will be much lower than it should be when your car does not have an MOT.

Scrapping a car that does not have an MOT

If your car fails the MOT test and you see no benefit in spending money on repairing it then you can scrap the car. Remember that you cannot drive it to the scrape yard due to the lack of a valid MOT.

The best option would be to speak with a ‘cars for cash’ garage or offer that comes in through the letterbox or sell it via an online car buying platform. Either way, both options have the capacity to collect a car without having to drive it on the road.

What are the most common reasons for a failed MOT?

Here are the most common MOT failure reasons according to the DVSA:

Lights (18%)

Blown bulbs in any of the car lights (fog, reversing, daytime, headlights and brakes) is one of the most common failure reasons. These are quick, cheap and easy to replace and can be found before taking it to the test centre.

Suspension (12%)

This is much more tricky to check if there are any faults when you have no mechanical knowledge. Some basic testing can be done such as pushing the car down on each suspension spring, wait to see how the car settles. Listen to any knocking or grinding noises when driving too.

Brakes (10%)

For brake discs and drums this can include worn pads, brake disc issues and general fluid/wiring issues too.

If the handbrake is loose or does not ratchet up correctly (e-brakes too) then the car will most likely fail. Handbrakes are essential for keeping the car from moving when you are not in it, which is a crucial safety issue.

Tyres (7%)

Check all of the tyres pressure and tread that is left on each tyre. The legal allowance for tread is no less than 1.6mm. You can reference the car’s manual or get yourself a low-cost tyre tread gauge to make it easy for yourself.

Windscreen (7%)

All of the windscreen and headlight washers plus blades need to be working and able to clean the surface area, easily. Chips or cracks in the windscreen cannot be in the driver’s field of view and no bigger than 10mm or 40mm in the swept area of the windscreen.

Exhaust (4%)

Any heavy or unusual smoke and noises. This can directly affect the CO2 emissions which are only getting stricter so pay attention to any issues around the exhaust system.

Steering (3%)

Heavy misalignment, stiff or slow steering can all cause an MOT fail. The steering wheel is an essential control instrument therefore it needs to be fully operational to ensure no safety issues.


This includes brake fluid, windscreen washer fluids, oils and any leaks.

Other things to consider:

Check for any rust and holes near the structural areas of your car. Warning lights in the dashboard are also a potential MOT failure.