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What is the difference between an MOT and a service?

What is the difference between an MOT and a service?

MOT and Service - What's the Difference?

When it comes to being a responsible vehicle owner, ensuring your car or van is regularly serviced and has an MOT at the correct time is crucial. Not only is driving without an MOT illegal and could cost you a hefty fine, it also keeps your vehicle in check to ensure it is safe and road worthy in the eyes of the law.


A car service, while not a legal requirement, is an important part of your vehicle's maintenance and should be booked and taken as seriously as an MOT. We rely on our vehicles to get us and our loved ones around safely and in comfort, but when it comes to these two important procedures, do you know what checks to expect and the difference between an MOT and a service?

Here, we explore the two procedures in more detail and map out exactly what you should expect from both.



There are many benefits to having your vehicle regularly serviced at the right time, such as:


Bullet point list of benefits of vehicle servicing


What happens during a service?

When it comes to vehicle servicing there are two options, interim or full.

You can check the details of these in your vehicle handbook, which will outline what is included, but as a rule full and interim services are usually carried out every other year from each other. This is subject to manufacturer guidelines.



To put this into context, if you had a full service on your vehicle last year, this year you will likely need an interim service, and then the following year reverting back to a full service.


Interim service: What's involved?

There are several checks that will need to be carried out during an interim service. Here is a breakdown of what you can expect:


Bullet point list of what to expect from interim service


Discover more about what happens during an interim service here.


Full service: What's involved?

A full service includes several maintenance procedures and checks that are not found in an MOT, so it is important to have regular servicing alongside your annual MOT. This type of service involves over 50 system checks and regular servicing is recommended to help prevent future costly repairs caused by lack of upkeep.

A full service should be carried out every other year or after a specific number of miles (depending on the manufacturer) - whichever comes first. Having a full service history will also be a key asset in helping you secure the best price for your vehicle when the time comes to change it.

Here is a breakdown of what you can expect:


Bullet point list of what to expect from a full service


Discover more about what happens during a full service here.



Once your car or vehicle is over three years old, it must be tested every year to ensure that it meets road safety and environmental standards. It is a legal requirement to have a current MOT to drive your car on the road.

Failure to have an MOT could also invalidate your insurance.

It is important to be aware that an MOT does not cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox and does not check its general mechanical condition, which will be covered during a service.

Here is a breakdown of what you can expect to be tested during your MOT:



There will be numerous tests carried out throughout the MOT, which include:

  • The vehicle structure/body is free from excessive corrosion and contains no sharp edges to cause injury
  • Towbars are secure, in god condition and have not had inappropriate modifications
  • Fuel system leaks, secure hoses and pipes and secure fuel caps
  • Exhaust emissions standards
  • Condition or brakes and ABS
  • Condition, tread depth and size of tyres 

Click here to find out more about what you can expect from your MOT.


Book your MOT or service today

If you want to drive your vehicle safe in the knowledge that it has had an MOT or been serviced thoroughly, give it the VIP treatment it deserves with a service at one of our RAC Approved Autocentres.

Get in touch today to book your interim or full service.  Our friendly, expert team are on hand and ready to help.


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