One of the most important parts of car ownership is keeping your pride and joy on the road. When you're talking about new or nearly new vehicles this is of course less of an issue, especially since many cars with a low mileage will still be covered by the manufacturer's warranty. When that has expired and you're on your own it's vitally important to stay on top of maintenance, which includes booking your vehicle in for its annual MOT.
1. Do I actually need an MOT?
Put simply, yes. It's the law. Every vehicle using UK roads is required to be kept in a roadworthy condition, both for the safety of the owner and that of other road users. It's important to remember that getting an MOT is different to having your car serviced. While servicing involves looking at the general mechanical health of a vehicle, an MOT is there to ensure a vehicle is safe to be on the road.
2. How often does an MOT test need to be carried out?
Whether your vehicle will need to have an MOT is dependent on its age. Vehicles that are less than three years old do not need to be tested. Once a vehicle reaches the third anniversary of its registration however, an MOT test is mandatory. If your vehicle passes its test then a certificate will be issued and this lasts for one year. Every owner needs to renew their MOT certificate before it expires but this can only be done one month before. There are some exceptions to the rule. Certain vehicles need to be tested 12 months after first being registered, including ambulances, taxis and private passenger vehicles with more than 16 seats.
3. What does an MOT look at?
When you bring your motorbike or car into a garage for an MOT, a wide range of checks will be carried out to determine if it meets road safety regulations and also environmental regulations. It's important to remember that the MOT represents a minimum standard that cars must adhere to at all times - it's not a case of bringing your vehicle up to standard once a year. Specialist testing equipment is used to look at everything from the bodywork of the vehicle to ensure there isn't excessive corrosion, through to exhaust emissions levels, seat belt safety, windscreen chips and whether the horn works properly. As of May 20th, 2018, some new changes to the MOT were introduced . Read all about them here.
4. What's an approved test centre?
Every garage that offers MOT testing needs to be approved by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Look out for a blue sign with three white triangles at the garage. It's of course important to be able to take your vehicle to a business you can trust completely, and that's where the Good Garage Scheme comes in. Members are required to adhere to a strict code of conduct, ensuring total peace of mind for motorists.
5. What if my car fails its MOT?
If your vehicle is not able to meet the minimum safety and environmental criteria set out by the government then you will not be able to use that vehicle on public roads. It's unfortunately as simple as that. It is possible to appeal against a test result, but many motorists will simply have work carried out to bring their vehicle up to scratch. It is of course important to take your vehicle to a reputable garage to have any work carried out.
6. How can I improve the chances of my car passing its MOT?
Failing an MOT is inconvenient, but it's a situation faced by many millions of motorists every year. According to the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders, each year around 1.5 million MOT failures are down to simple things like blown light bulbs, illegal tyre treads and empty windscreen washer fluid bottles. Taking a minute or two to look at your vehicle prior to an MOT test and correct faults yourself, or get a professional garage to do so, will save you time and money in the long run.
7. I can't remember if I've got an MOT
The good news is that thanks to the internet it now only takes a matter of seconds to check whether your vehicle has a valid MOT and is insured. A government database containing all the details held about your vehicle can be accessed online, just as long as you have the vehicle's registration number to hand, and either the last MOT test number or your vehicle's V5C number.
8. What do I do if I've lost my MOT certificate?
If paperwork isn't really your thing and you've gone and lost your test certificate then don't panic. It is possible to get one re-issued without the need to resort to having a new test carried out. Any MOT testing station will be able to supply you with a replacement. However, once again you will need to have the vehicle registration number and either the original MOT test number or your vehicle's V5C number to hand.
9. What if my MOT has already expired?
Driving a vehicle that does not have a valid MOT certificate is against the law and telling a police officer or court that you simply didn't realise will not do you any good. When it comes to MOTs, ignorance is not an excuse. If a vehicle doesn't have a valid certificate then it can't be driven on the road. The only exception to this rule is if you are driving the vehicle directly to an MOT test centre. If you're pulled over on the way, you must be able to prove you have a pre-booked test.
10. Are any vehicles exempt from an MOT?
It's true that not every vehicle on the road will have a valid MOT certificate. Cars that were built more than 40 years ago do not need to take an annual test, although owners still have a legal requirement to maintain them in a safe and roadworthy condition. Other vehicles that are exempt include electric-powered goods vehicles and tractors.
Carbase is the largest used car dealer in the South West and as such we're trusted by a huge number of motorists to carry out MOT tests and vehicle servicing. It's quick and simple to book your vehicle into one of our Auto Centres in Bristol, Weston-super-Mare or Lympsham through the website, or by calling a member of the team directly on 0117 955 4836 for Bristol, 01934 640 810 for Weston-super-Mare or 01934 751 509 for Lympsham.
Now that you know everything you need to know about your MOT, read up on getting your car's first service!