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Uh oh – is it time for your car’s annual MOT test? Taking your car or van in for an MOT can be worrying, especially if you have an older car.

Your car’s MOT (Ministry of Transport) test isn’t the same as a service, but they do often go hand in hand. The MOT is a test that checks if your car meets the legal standards required to prove it’s safe to drive on the roads. It’s a comprehensive checklist, however, it doesn’t test the condition of your engine, clutch or gearbox, which means annual maintenance or a service is still very important. We can make sure you have one less worry by helping you find the cheapest MOT near you. Compare quotes in three easy steps with Quote Goat to find the best deal for an MOT in your local area. Whether you’re just in for an MOT or you’d like quotes for a service and MOT, we’ll take the hassle out of hunting down the best price.

How much is an MOT?

As it’s a legal requirement for all vehicles over the age of three years old to have an MOT, the Government has set a price cap on them. Currently, the maximum you can be charged for a car MOT is £54.85, and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle. There’s also no VAT on an MOT.

However, many garages offer MOTs for much cheaper than the price cap, with stiff competition keeping prices low for customers. They also often offer deals that make the MOT cheaper when you book in a service at the same time.

This is why comparing MOT quotes for your local area is the best way to snap up a good price. 

How to find out when your MOT is due

Your car’s first MOT will be due the day it turns three years old. After that, you must have an MOT done yearly. Your MOT certificate will tell you when it runs out, but if that’s gathering dust under your bed somewhere, it’s easy to check when your MOT is due online. Simply head to the Government website and enter your reg plate. You can also set up a handy MOT reminder, which will send you an email or text when it’s time to book in your MOT.

How long does an MOT take on a car or van?

The MOT itself is usually pretty speedy, as the mechanics are simply testing and checking. An MOT typically takes 45 – 60 minutes.

If you book in for a service as well, or if your MOT uncovers problems that need fixing, that will take longer, depending on the level of service and the gravity of the repairs needed.

When you book in for an MOT and service together, the garage will usually do the MOT before the service, to highlight any potential MOT fail, which they can then rectify with the service.

What is checked on an MOT?

The tests and checks completed during an MOT are extensive. It’s impressive how they get through it all so speedily. Here’s a rough MOT checklist of what they’re looking for:

Part of the vehicleWhat the MOT checks
Body and structureCorrosion, sharp edges
TowbarWhether its secure, its condition, electrical socket
Fuel systemPotential leaks, condition of pipes and hoses, fuel cap fastening
Exhaust systemMeasured against the legal smoke test
SeatbeltsCondition, security and safety
SeatsWhether they’re adjustable and securely fitted
DoorsTheir security and operation from outside (all doors) and inside (front doors only)
MirrorsTheir condition, whether any are missing
Load securityThe security of your boot or tailgate
BrakesCondition, operation and performance. They’ll also check the ABS and ESC
Tyres and wheelsTheir condition and tread depth
Registration platesLegibility, condition and proper formatting
LightsTheir aim and proper function 
BonnetCloses securely
Wipers and washersIn working order to give a clear view of the road
WindscreenIts condition, giving a clear view of the road
HornWorking properly
Steering and suspensionCondition, steering oil levels, steering lock function 
Vehicle identification number (VIN)Check this is correct and matches the VC5
ElectricsWiring and battery operation

What fails an MOT?

MOT fail points are categorised by minor, major or dangerous problems. While you can pass an MOT with minor points, just one major or dangerous point will cause it to fail.

The most common failures are due to little problems such as light bulbs being blown, brake pads or discs running low, tyres having too little tread or cracking, wiper blades being corroded, and even washing fluid being low.

These are all simple checks and repairs that you can do yourself before you take your car in for its MOT to try and reduce the risk of it failing.

What happens if your car fails its MOT

If your car fails with a major, you can ask the garage to do the repairs for you before they then do an MOT retest. This tends to be done the same day. Alternatively, you can drive it away to have the repairs done elsewhere before having it retested within 10 days. But, you can only drive it away if you still have a current valid MOT. If you’ve left it until the last day of your MOT to have it tested, you can’t drive it away, so the garage will have to fix it for you.

If your car has a dangerous fault, you can’t drive the car until it’s repaired, so your only real option is to ask the garage to fix it for you before doing a retest within 10 days.

Most garages will call you to explain why it’s failed and how much it’s going to cost to repair it. If you decide to drive it away to have the repairs done elsewhere, you’ll need to bring it back to the original garage for its retest within 10 days, otherwise you’ll need to pay for a whole new MOT test.

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Written By Michael Foote, Insurance and Finance Expert

Michael Foote is the founder of Quote Goat and has over 13 years experience working in the finance, insurance and currency sectors. Since launching Quote Goat he has appeared on TV as well as many of the largest online publications including Forbes, The Telegraph and The Metro. Prior to Quote Goat, he worked in finance in the city for a number of firms including HSBC.