If you’re the owner of a car that’s more than 3 years old, you’re required by law to take an MOT test each year. The process, regulated by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, ensures your vehicle is roadworthy by undergoing a series of tests to measure it against safety and environmental standards.
If you’ve never had an MOT test before and are preparing to send your car for one for the first time, it might seem like a complicated process at first, but in reality for most drivers it is as simple as a visit to their local garage.
Understanding the MOT test
After your vehicle has been on the road for three years MOT tests are compulsory. Without an MOT certificate you will not be able to tax your car and update your tax disc, so it’s important to keep track of when you need to get a test or when your current certificate expires.
The test is designed to be comprehensive — it includes checking breaks, steering and suspension. Battery, airbags, speedometer will also be checked, and your vehicle will be tested to make sure the petrol cap fits securely. The exhaust must be secure and meet MOT emission standards, which are set depending on the car’s age and fuel type. The garage will also check features like seats and seatbelts, registration plates, the windscreen and horn.
If any of your vehicle’s features do not meet the necessary standard your car will fail the test and the issue must be resolved before taking the test a second time. Most garages will offer to fix any minor problems then and there – for example replacing windscreen wipers or a broken light – and will allow you to retake the test for free or at a reduced fee.
The MOT test itself should only take a couple of hours, and there are hundreds of garages around the country you can visit to complete it. A garage must be certified to perform an MOT test, and no matter where you undergo the test the same things will be checked as standard, so you shouldn’t have to worry about undergoing any unnecessary or costly repairs without a full explanation from the garage.
The UK Government website has a dedicated guide to getting an MOT, and this is a great place to start your research if you have any questions about the test or why your vehicle is required to take it.
Booking your test
Most drivers undertake an MOT test at their local garage, and you should be able to find one that’s certified to perform the test in your area. There are several websites that help you find and book a test online, making it even easier to find a time and place that suits you.
Car experts like Halfords Autocentres and Kwik Fit both offer MOT testing and servicing and have a dedicated section on their websites to help you book your test or service online. Particularly if you’re not familiar with any garages in your area, this is a great place to begin your search. National Tyres also offer a similar online booking service and a discount if you book your MOT test in advance.