Car maintenance is always important, but it’s especially essential when your annual MOT test rolls around. If you have a car that’s more than three years old, you’ll need to keep it in tip-top shape or else risk driving illegally on the road.

 What is MOT testing, though, and how can you prepare for your annual test?

MOT tests are designed to ensure that your car is in-line with UK tyre laws and emissions legislation. More than that, though, MOT tests help all UK drivers stay safe on the road, regardless of variations in driving style.

Preparations will vary by driver, but let’s dive into the details so you can know what to expect this coming year. 

When to schedule a MOT test

As mentioned, any car that’s three years old or older needs to go through a MOT test on a yearly basis. Ideally, you’ll want to schedule your MOT test within a month of your current certificate’s expiration date. This way, you won’t be on the road illegally and you’ll have a bit of extra time to take your car to a garage if it needs a bit of work. 

The cost of a MOT test

While MOT tests are required by law, you’re still expected to pay for them every year. At the moment, MOT testing for cars costs £54.85. Motorbike tests cost £29.65. That said, the cost can vary by garage. Be sure to research the testing centres in your area to see whether or not you can receive a discount on your next test.

What is checked in a MOT?

MOT tests can take anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the state of your car. During that time, representatives at your nearest testing centre will explore the ins and outs of your car to ensure that you’re staying as safe on the road as possible.

 Comprehensive MOT testing sees inspectors looking over your car’s: 

  • VPN
  • Electrical equipment
  • Seat belts and their security
  • Seat placement
  • Emissions and exhaust
  • Steering
  • Car tyres and tyre pressure
  • Suspension
  • Your mirrors
  • Windshield wipers and windscreen
  • Brakes

Note that this test isn’t designed to condemn anyone for the state of their vehicle or driving style. Instead, while MOT tests do encourage eco-driving, they’re overall meant to keep you as safe as possible while on the road.

Why do cars fail the MOT test?

Unfortunately, you’re never guaranteed to pass a MOT test. There are multiple reasons your car may fail the test, including:

  • Underfilled screen wash
  • A cluttered boot
  • An expired or ill-equipped license plate
  • Stickers that might block your view of the road
  • Warning signs on your dashboard

If you do fail your test, the test centre you visit is required to provide you with a VT30 stating why you failed and what you can do to improve your vehicle’s safety before your next test. If the centre determines the problem at hand to be especially severe, you won’t legally be able to drive away from the testing centre. Instead, you’ll need to call a tow truck and have your car delivered to the nearest garage.

If you fail the test with a moderate to minor problem, you will be able to leave the centre, but you won’t be able to renew your MOT until you’ve visited a garage.

It’s tempting, of course, to try and drive without a MOT. However, if you get caught doing so, you’ll earn three points for your license, be banned from the road until your MOT is renewed, and risk a fine of £2,500. 

Preparing for a retest

If you fail your first MOT test, you’re going to need to go in for a second. Luckily, most testing centres will discount your retest if you leave your vehicle with them for repairs. However, if you drive home and go to a preferred garage, you’ll need to pay for a new test in full. The good news is that you can usually get in for a discounted rate so long as you return to your centre of choice within ten days of your first test. 

Getting a MOT certificate

If you do pass your MOT test, congratulations! You’ll legally be able to drive on the road for the next year. However, you’ll need a MOT certificate to do so. Your first MOT certificate is free, and you’ll be able to print it out after viewing it at gov.uk. If you lose your certificate, it costs £10 to replace. You’ll need to revisit your local testing centre and provide a proctor with your car’s registration number as well as your V5C number to take home your replacement certificate.

Your annual MOT test is designed to keep you and the other drivers on the road safe. Whether you want to become a more environmentally-aware driver or you just want to continue making the trek to and from work every day, find your local testing centre ASAP.