Once your car is three years old, it will need a MOT test every year. The three years is calculated from the date your car was first registered, which might be different from the date you bought or acquired it. In Northern Ireland, cars don’t need a MOT test until they are four years old. Vintage cars, which are defined as cars over 40 years of age, won’t need a MOT test unless they have been substantially altered. You can check on the DVLA website to see when your car’s current MOT certificate runs out. Just enter the registration number on the website.
There are 21,000 MOT centres all across the UK. Not all garages are approved to run MOT tests, so look on the government website to find one which is convenient for you. Both independent garages and the large national chains do MOT tests. Try to book your new MOT test a few days before your existing certificate runs out. Very few garages just do UK MOT checks. They will be busy with repairs and other work too. So book your car in advance to get a time which suits.
A MOT test usually takes about an hour. Garages are usually happy for you to stay and watch the test if you want, but most people prefer to drop their car off at the garage and do something else until the car is ready to be picked up. If your car passes the MOT, then all you need to do is return later, pay the test fee and collect your car and certificate. If the car fails, the garage will call and let you know. The mechanic will explain what work needs to be done to get the car through the test
The government sets maximum charges for UK MOT checks. The current maximum charges are £54.85 for a car, and £29.65 for a motorbike. Garages might choose to charge less than the maximum to attract customers. Some local Councils also have public MOT test centres. As these centres purely test vehicles and don’t offer repairs, many customers feel they give an impartial service. However, if you need repair work to get your car through the MOT, you are then faced with looking for a garage to fix your car and then have it re-tested. The best advice is probably to look first at test centres which are convenient for you, then compare both price and appointment availability
If your car passes its UK MOT check then great! All you need to do is collect the pass certificate and keep it safe for another 12 months. If it fails, then what happens next depends on the reasons why the car has failed. In May 2018, the government changed the way MOT failures are reported. Failures are classed in one of two ways If your car fails its MOT test and you agree with the garage that they will do the work, then the retest will be free of charge. Only the areas of the car which failed the test the first time round will be retested. If you choose to drive the car away and have the work done elsewhere, you can bring it back to the same test centre within 10 days for a retest. It won’t be free, but will be cheaper than having a completely new MOT done
Under the old system, drivers were given a list of “advisories” on a UK MOT check. This was a list of minor defects which weren’t serious enough to merit a MOT failure, but which might mean the car failed in the future if they weren’t fixed. This category has been broken down under the new system into two categories of fault. Seeing either of these two categories on your MOT certificate still means your car has passed, so you are free to drive home and decide when is appropriate to deal with any issues detected
It’s your responsibility as a driver to keep on top of when your UK MOT checks are due and to make sure you get your car booked in. Driving without a MOT is illegal, and also invalidates your car insurance. You can opt in on the government website to receive reminders by text message when your car’s MOT is about to expire.