How to check your car’s MOT status and what to do if it’s expired

Everything you need to know about MOT including cost, time, scope, what the error categories mean and which cars are exempt

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is rumored to have suggested switching to a test every two years to address the cost of living crisis facing families across the UK.

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As drivers face rising fuel and insurance bills and a recent increase in road tax, the move could theoretically save drivers around £27 a year, although the impact on safety has been questioned.

For now, however, testing remains an annual requirement for most vehicles, and millions of motorists are required to show their car for the annual general inspection.

Although it is a common element of driving a car, there is still a lot of confusion surrounding MOT. That’s why we’re answering the most common questions here, from checking your expiration date and costs to duration and cost coverage.

What is the MOT?

Different vehicles undergo different tests, with separate categories for cars, motorcycles, and large cars and trucks.

When is the MOT due for my car?

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Cars are exempt from the TÜV in the first three years of life, but then have to be checked once a year up to the age of 40. After that, they are exempt from the TÜV, but can still be submitted for testing.

Your car’s first MOT is due on the third anniversary of its first registration and the passport certificate will remain valid for 12 months from that date.

You can submit your car for inspection up to one month (minus one day) before the current MOT expires and keep the same renewal date. For example, if your MOT expires on May 15th, the earliest you can get a MOT with the same renewal date for next year is April 16th. If you take your vehicle to the MOT on April 14th, the expiration date will change to April 13th the following year.

Keep in mind that if the old certificate fails the test before the renewal date, the old certificate is still valid, but the vehicle may no longer be safe to drive.

How do I check when my MOT is due?

You should receive a paper copy of the certificate of completion after each test, which includes the expiry date.

If you lost this or don’t feel like digging around in your file, the DVSA has a tool to check your car’s MOT status, as well as its MOT and safety recall history.

How much does an MOT cost?

The maximum price a workshop can charge for a Class 4 MOT (Car) is £54.85 as set by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency). However, some garages and dealerships offer cheaper tests to lure customers (and ensure they keep their business if repair work is needed).

How long does the MOT take?

There is no set duration for an MOT inspection, but according to MOT specialists at Halfords Autocentres, it typically takes between 45 minutes and an hour.

Can anyone do TÜV?

All TÜV stations must display this symbol

No, the test can only be carried out at an accredited TÜV test center and by a qualified TÜV inspector with special training.

All test centers will display the MOT symbol of three intersecting white triangles on a blue background and while they are no longer required to issue the Qualification Certificates of all their MOT technicians, many still choose to do so.

What does the TÜV cover?

TÜV testing examines your car’s mechanical and electrical operations to ensure it meets certain safety standards.

The MOT is an annual road safety check of your car

The test was changed in 2018 to include new error categories and more stringent emissions tests.

The technician either issues a pass certificate or issues a fault report for serious or dangerous faults. Minor imperfections do not constitute a defect, but serve as an indication of problems that need to be fixed soon.

A full list of the items checked can be found on the DVSA website but the main areas covered include the structural integrity of the vehicle; brakes, suspension and steering; fuel system; tire condition; Lighting; exhaust system and emissions; seats; horn and license plates.

What can I check myself?

Some problems are pretty hard to spot for the untrained eye, but many mistakes are easy to avoid.

The 10 most common reasons for TÜV failures are problems with lights, tires, brakes, suspension and visibility. Many of these can be avoided by doing some basic maintenanceand the DVSA gives the following list of items that drivers are advised to check themselves:

  • Windshield, windows and mirrors are clean
  • all lights work
  • the brakes work
  • Engine oil
  • Water level in the radiator or expansion tank
  • brake fluid level
  • battery
  • washer fluid level
  • Tires – they must have the correct tread depth and be free from cuts and imperfections

Can I drive a car without an MOT?

no A MOT is required by law and if you are caught driving a car without a valid MOT certificate You can be fined £1,000.

Despite what some people might tell you, there is no MOT grace period after the expiration date.

You can only legally drive without an MOT if you drive the car to an MOT for a pre-booked test, if you bring it in for repairs or if the vehicle is over 40 years old and therefore exempt from testing .