You and your MOT

All cars in the UK are required to pass their MOT test each year. According to government guidelines at www.gov.uk/browse/driving/vechicle-tax-mot-insurance (opens in a new window) your MOT certificate confirms that at the time of the test your vehicle met, as far as can be reasonably determined without dismantling it, the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards as required by law. It does not mean that your vehicle will necessarily be roadworthy for the life of the certificate and is not a substitute for regular maintenance.

What is an MOT certificate?
MOT test results are now computerised (they used to be handwritten) and the new A4 certificate issued is a receipt of test results. To check your MOT results and test status you need to access the MOT database at data.gov.uk/dataset/anonymised_mot_test (opens in a new window) run by the Vehicle & Operator Services Agency. The police can access the Vehicle Enquiry Service (opens in a new window) database and find out immediately if you don’t have an MOT certificate. You will also need an MOT to apply for new vehicle tax.
When do I need an MOT?
MOT tests are required for all cars over three years old and must be taken annually. For vehicles registered ‘from new’ the first test date would be three years from registration. For vehicles used prior to registration (imports for example), the first test is required three years from manufacture. You can test your car within one calendar month before the required date but the MOT certificate still ties in with the date of the first MOT certificate or the previous one. If an MOT is taken earlier than one month before its due date, it will only run for 12 months from the test date.
Who carries them out?
The MOT scheme is run and operated by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA (opens in a new window)). It supervises around 19,000 garages to carry out MOTs in the UK. VOSA maintains test methods, standards, trains authorised examiners and nominated testers and deals with complaints. You can identify approved test stations from the blue ‘three triangles’ logo that they have to display.
What do they look at?
There are several components looked at during an MOT. These include vehicle identification number, registration plate, lights, steering, suspension, wipers, washers, windscreen, horn, seatbelts, seats, fuel system, exhaust emissions, exhaust system, vehicle structure, doors, mirrors, wheels and tyres and brakes.
How much does it cost?
For cars with up to eight seats, an MOT test costs £50.35. This is also the fee for motor caravans, dual-purpose vehicles and all public service vehicles (regardless of the age of the vehicle or the number of seats). For private passenger vehicles (nine to 12 seats) the cost is £52.60 – these vehicles must be tested after one year and annually after that. Prices correct in March 2008. The source of the costs is from Directgov (opens in a new window)
What if I’m not satisfied?
If you’re not satisfied with the results of your test you should discuss it with your test station first. If still in doubt, don’t let anyone do any more repairs and let VOSA know. You must fill out an appeal form (get one from your test station or call 0300 123 9000). This must be returned within 14 days of the test date with the full test fee. If your appeal is successful some or your entire fee may be refunded. Repairs may still need doing in order to get your MOT certificate if you lose the appeal.
What about MOT and insurance?
A valid MOT certificate is not a guarantee of road-worthiness if you need to make a claim on your car insurance. You are responsible for maintaining your vehicle between MOT tests.
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