People who have been driving for decades will remember the annual ritual of taxing your car by going to the local post office, standing in an often very long queue, showing your MOT and insurance certificates, then paying cash over the counter. This has all changed dramatically in recent years, and although some people do still pay their road tax at post offices, most of us do it online. The MOT system has been slower to move online, but anyone can now log into the government website and look at the MOT status of a vehicle just by entering the registration number. So where does that leave that piece of paper which you used to be given at the end of the MOT test?
Under the new digital MOT system, after the end of the test, the mechanic will enter the details of the car into the database using the garage computer. Although the database doesn’t update immediately, within a few hours you should be able to see all the details of your most recent MOT online. This is the same system which is used by the police, who no longer have to ask motorists to produce their documents; they can check whether a car is taxed, has a MOT or is insured by using software in their vehicles.
Although formal MOT certificates are not issued any more, the garage will still give you some sort of receipt for carrying out the test, and this will often also list the reason for failure, or any smaller defects which were detected during the inspection. This isn’t the same as the MOT certificate though, and you don’t need to keep it unless you want to. If you decide to sell the car before the next MOT is due, the new buyer may not even ask about the paperwork, as they can also log into the website to look at the results of previous MOT checks. Similarly, we don’t use paper tax discs any longer to show that you’ve paid for the year, and most car insurance is done online too.
One of the benefits of the online system for checking MOT status is that reasons for previous failures can be viewed. Under the old system with paper certificates, all that you would be able to check when buying a car is that the current MOT certificate hasn’t expired yet. The online system allows purchasers to check the history of MOT going back several years. Every result is recorded, so purchasers will be able to see a failed MOT, the reasons for that failure, and then a subsequent pass certificate after work has been done. From a purchaser’s point of view this is great news as they have a better picture overall of what has been going on with the car.
Although it’s not a legal requirement to pass on all of the paperwork when selling a car, many buyers like to see a sheaf of paperwork – it gives the impression that the car has been well looked after and properly maintained. Even if you do have all the paperwork showing that a car has sailed through its previous MOT tests, purchasers might be wary if they see that the current certificate only has a few weeks left to run. It might be worth putting the car through a new MOT test, demonstrating that it is in good running condition, and that the purchaser doesn’t have to worry about getting it re-tested for another 12 months.
MOT tests can be booked at any time – you don’t have to wait until the day or week when the current one expires. Just call up the local garage and explain that you want to book a new MOT test, and turn up at the arranged time. Having a brand new MOT certificate logged into the website might make your car just a bit more attractive than a similar make and model which has less time left to run on its current MOT test.
Replacement MOT certificates are limited in use as all of the details are held online, but there are still some situations in which you might need to get one. The easiest way to do this is online, and there is no charge for requesting a replacement for a lost or damaged MOT certificate through the website. The other option is going to the MOT test centre where the inspection was carried out. They can print off a replacement for you, although you will need to provide both the vehicle’s registration number, and the 11-digit identification number from the V5 (log book) document.
The MOT system is reliable and trustworthy, but as with anything which involves human input, there is room for human error. If you’ve spotted a mistake on the information held about your car, it is possible to get it corrected. One of the most common mistakes is with the mileage – someone’s typed in the numbers wrongly, or transposed digits. If you spot the mistake within 28 days of the test, contact the centre and they will correct the mileage for you. They might ask you to bring the car back in so that they can check.
For other errors, or mistakes on mileage spotted more than 28 days after the test, you will have to contact the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) either in writing, or through their website. They will be able to fix mistakes such as the wrong make, model or colour of car stated on the certificate or website, or remove a test from the MOT history of your car which does not belong to it. You will need to give them as much information as you have about both the vehicle and where and when the test was done in order for them to identify what has gone wrong. Correcting the error might take some time, so it is important to raise any issues as soon as you spot them.