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What is an MOT and why is it important to have one?

By Motor Match •

What exactly is an MOT and why do we need to get one? Let’s find out. 

The Importance of an MOT

The MOT - or Ministry of Transport test - is a crucial part of ensuring that the cars on the UK’s roads retain a basic level of roadworthiness. First introduced back in 1960, it’s now a core part of running and maintaining a car here in the UK.

Now that the government’s MOT extension, which was implemented to keep key workers on the move during the coronavirus crisis, has ended, more people than ever are flocking to garages to get their cars MOT’d. But what exactly is it and why do we need to get one? Let’s find out. 

man stood underneath a car


What is an MOT?

An MOT is a maintenance check-up carried out once a year on cars over three years old. A certified MOT tester will carry out the procedure and focus on key areas of the car including the brakes, lights and even the windscreen wipers. In addition, they’ll perform an emissions test to ensure that the car meets standards. 


Are there any parts of a car that an MOT doesn’t check?

Though an MOT test does check over many aspects of a car, there are some parts that aren’t looked over. An MOT tester won’t look at the engine, gearbox or clutch systems, though they still need to be in good working order. For instance, if your car can’t be driven onto an inspection ramp under its own steam, then it’ll be failed straight away. 

Things to check before your MOT


How much should an MOT cost me?

Though you’ll likely have seen garages advertising ‘special offer’ deals on MOTs, the reality is that the maximum they can charge by law is £54.85. As with most things, it pays to shop around to make sure that you’re paying the right amount. 

If your car fails its MOT, then you’ll be able to rebook in for a partial retest at the same test centre, which often comes for free or at a reduced rate. It’ll need to be retested within 10 working days to qualify, however.

man and woman stood underneath acar


How long will the MOT test take?

Though an MOT test usually takes between 45 minutes and an hour, if your car needs any additional work doing, you may have to wait around longer. We’d usually advise planning for your car to be out for the day, just in case it requires more work.


What happens when my car passes?

When your vehicle passes the MOT test, you’ll be issued with a pass certificate from the test centre, while the pass will also be logged onto a national database. You’ll also get a list of any ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ issues which need to be looked at and rectified in the future. You can then drive the car away. 


But if my car fails its MOT, am I able to drive it away?

If your car fails its MOT and its certificate has expired, then a garage can’t let you drive away as normal. However, if your car’s certificate is still valid (if it’s still within the expiry date on your test certificate) then you are able to drive it away, providing it hasn’t had any ‘dangerous’ defects listed against it.

If this is the case, then you can’t leave the test centre. Doing so could leave you liable to a fine of up to £2,500 if caught, as well as three penalty points on your licence and potentially even a driving ban.

You’ll need to have these issues rectified and have the car re-tested. If it passes, you’ll then be able to drive away.


Can I still get an MOT during the second lockdown in England?

Yes, you can. Testing centres are classed as essential retail and are able to stay open, as are garages and servicing areas. 

It means that if your car requires an MOT you’re still able to book it in and get it sorted.

Am I still able to get my car serviced and MOTd during lockdown?


Can’t I just drive without an MOT?

Absolutely not. If caught, you’ll be issued with a fixed penalty notice of £100. Though no penalty points are issued if you’re found to be driving without an MOT, a fine could be imposed by the courts up to the tune of £1,000.


Are any cars exempt from needing an MOT?

There are a small number of cars which don’t need to get an MOT in order to drive legally. These include goods vehicles powered by electricity and registered before March 1, 2015, and classic cars which were built or first registered more than 40 years ago. 


 Book an MOT  Why you should service your car Motor Match Service Plans

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