Facts You Need to Know
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Reg Check | Mot Check | Car Tax Check
BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE/DVLA/Department for Transport
What is checked in an MOT?
Listed below are the main elements that are checked as part of the MOT test, along with some pre-MOT check tips. Nearly half of all faults found during MOT checks could be avoided by carrying out simple maintenance, so it’s worthwhile checking items like lights, wiper blades and tyres beforehand so that your vehicle has the best chance of passing first time!
1. Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment
The horn must emit a continuous uniform note and must be loud enough to be heard by another road user.
30% of all MOT faults relate to lighting and signaling
Your vehicle’s front, rear, brake, fog, indicator and registration plate lights and rear reflectors must:
be correctly positioned and secure
not be obscured
be in good condition
show the correct color (a bluish tinge to front headlights is acceptable as long as the predominant color is white)
not be adversely affected by the operation of any other light
illuminate with a single operation of the switch
Pairs of lights must emit light of the same color, size and shape.
Headlight aim (both dip beam and main beam) should be below the horizontal, so as not to dazzle other drivers.
The battery must be secure and not show any signs of leaking electrolytes.
Wiring should be secure and must not be damaged to the point where it is likely to short circuit or become detached.
Any electrical socket must be in a good condition and correctly operate the trailer parking lights, brake lights, indicators and rear fog lights.
Lights: While you operate your lights from the driver’s seat, have a friend or family member walk around your vehicle to check each of them is working correctly.
Horn: Give your horn a quick blast to check it’s working correctly.
Battery: Check that all connectors are in place securely and are in good condition, while keeping an eye out for fluid leakages.
2. Steering and suspension
Suspension components and shock absorbs will be checked for excessive corrosion, distortion and fractures.
Your steering wheel must be secure and in a good condition. The tester will check this by pushing the wheel in various directions and inspecting the steering components for wear or damage.
If your steering has a locking device, it should only lock when the engine isn’t running.
Vehicles with power steering must have at least the minimum level of power steering fluid in the reservoir.
9.6% of MOT fails are due to brake issues
Your brakes, pedals and levers should be in good condition and any relevant warning lights must work. The tester will also carry out a brake performance test to check brake efficiency.
10% of all MOT faults are related to tyres
Your tyres must be of an appropriate speed and load rating for your vehicle. Tread depth needs to be at least 1.6mm and the tester will check for cuts in excess of 25mm, lumps, bulges, tears, exposure of the cord and tread separation.
For vehicles with run-flat tyres, the warning light must operate correctly.
Road wheels must be in good general condition, and all wheel nuts should be in place and tightly secured.
All of your seat belts (including the attachment and adjustment fittings) need to be the correct length and in good working order.
Brakes: Keep an eye on your car and make a mental note if it pulls to one side when you apply the brakes. This could suggest a problem that needs addressing before you take your car for an MOT.
Tyres: Use a tyre depth gauge to check the tread depth.
Seat belts: Give your seat belts a sharp tug to make sure that the restraint systems are working correctly. Also check that the locks are in good working order and operate correctly.
3.Body, structure and general items
A general inspection of the body, chassis, engine mountings, seats, bonnet, boot and doors will be carried out as part of your MOT checks. All components must be free from excessive corrosion and must not have any sharp edges that might cause injury.
A registration plate must be fitted at the front and rear. The plates must be secure and clearly legible to someone standing 20 meters away from the car.
The characters on the plate must be correctly formed and spaced, and not likely to be misread.
Every vehicle must permanently display a legible VIN, either on a VIN plate secured to the vehicle, or stamped or etched on the body or chassis.
A speedometer must be fitted, and the tester will check that it can be illuminated. It doesn’t matter if the dial glass is cracked as long as the speed can be read.
Registration plates: Clean your number plates and make sure they’re legible and legal. If you need a replacement for your front or back, you can order one online.
Speedometer: Check that your speedometer can be read and the dashboard lights illuminate at night.
4.Exhaustfuel and emissions
Your exhaust system should be secure and free of leaks. If your vehicle was originally fitted with a catalytic converter, it must still be present.
Your vehicle’s carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions must fall within the legal limit. The tester will use a gas analyzer probe while the engine is running to test the smoke emitted from the exhaust. They’ll also visually check for excessive smoke of any color being emitted from the exhaust, which could result in an MOT failure.
It’s important to note that your vehicle will need sufficient engine oil and fuel levels in order for the tester to carry out their emission checks.
Exhaust: Make a note of any noise or rattling from the direction of your exhaust pipe when your car’s running. This could suggest a problem that needs addressing before you take your MOT.
Emissions: To support the emissions test, top up your engine oil and fuel levels. Your oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks on the dipstick in the oil reservoir under your bonnet.
5. Driver's view of the road
Rear view mirrors and wing mirrors must be secure and provide adequate views to the rear and side. Wipers and washers must sweep a wide enough area to give the driver an adequate view of the road.
In the area of the windscreen directly in front of the driver, there must not be any damage or obstruction to the view larger than 10mm. Outside this area (but within the swept area), there must not be any damage or other obstruction larger than 40mm.
Mirrors: Check for cracks that might obscure your vision and replace any damaged mirrors to avoid the risk of failing your test.
Wipers: Give your wiper blades a once-over to ensure they’re in good working order and aren’t showing any signs of damage.
Windscreen: Ensure that your screen wash is topped up (you can fail your MOT if this isn’t the case!) and there’s no significant damage to your windscreen. Also make sure that the screen wash feed isn’t blocked.
It’s helpful if you can bring your current MOT certificate and V5C Vehicle Registration Document along to your MOT.
If your vehicle passes its MOT then you’ll be issued with a new MOT certificate, which is valid for a year. The result will also be recorded in the MOT database.
Your vehicle will fail the test if any ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ problems are found. In this case, you’ll be issued with a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ and it’ll be recorded in the MOT database.
First off, you can only drive your car away from the test center if your previous MOT certificate is still valid or if no ‘dangerous’ problems were listed in the MOT. If this isn’t the case, then you’ll need to get it repaired before it can be driven again.
You may only need a partial retest if you leave your vehicle at the test center for repair and it’s retested within 10 working days. There’s no fee for this, but there may be a fee if you take your car away and bring it back for the repairs.
Our advice is to get all the repairs your vehicle needs as soon as possible so that you be confident in the safety of your car and your legal right to drive it on the road.
They are as follows: Category A: Car may not be repaired, and must be crushed. Category B: Car may have its usable parts recycled, but it also must crushed. Category S: Car has suffered structural damage, but it is still repairable. Category N: Car has not sustained any damage to its structure, and which may be repaired and safely returned to the road. Note, since 2017 Cat C and D have been replaced by Cat S and N respectively.
The importance of MOTs and servicing
When you own a car, it’s important to get it serviced regularly and to ensure it has a valid MOT. But why do MOT and servicing matter and what are they for? We have everything you need to know.
Between them, regular car servicing and MOT tests help ensure your vehicle is running smoothly and is safe to be on the road (road legal). But what do they both involve?
During an MOT check, your vehicle will be inspected to ensure it meets the minimum road safety standards set out by the DVSA.
Every car over the age of three requires an annual MOT test, and it’s important not to forget when your next one is due as driving without a valid MOT can land you with a fine of up to £1,000!
While car servicing isn’t a legal requirement, we highly recommend that you get your car serviced on a regular basis to ensure that your vehicle is running at its best and is at less risk of breaking down.
Plus, getting your car serviced is the best way to find any potential issues that could lead to a failure in your MOT test.
What to do if your car has failed its MOT
Though it can be hugely disappointing when your car fails its MOT, it’s something that nearly 37% of drivers experience every year (according to DVSA data). While this is not the ideal situation to find yourself in, it’s important to know what your options are in the event of a failed MOT, so that you can get back on the road as soon as possible.
Here’s what will happen if your car doesn’t pass, what to expect from an MOT retest, and what you can do if you want to appeal the decision.
In the event of a failed MOT, the test center will issue you with a VT30 ‘Refusal of an MOT Test Certificate’. This will have your car’s details on it, as well as the MOT test number and the reasons why it didn’t pass. Be sure to keep hold of it, as you’ll need to present it in the event of a retest or an appeal.
You’ll need to address the issues listed on the certificate and carry out any repairs before having your car retested. Depending on the reasons for the failure, there are a few different MOT retest options, some of which can save you from paying any additional testing fees.
Leave it to be fixed: If the test center you’ve used also does repairs, you can hire them to fix the issues that caused the failure. If repairs are carried out within 10 working days, they can do a partial retest, where they will only test the issues listed on the VT30 certificate.
Bring it back within one working day: You’re entitled to take the car away for repairs and bring it back to the original testing center for a free partial retest. For a full list of acceptable reasons where this option is available, check out the DVSA website.
Bring it back within 10 working days: If you choose to have your car repaired elsewhere, you can take it back to the original testing center for a partial retest within 10 days of the initial test. You will be charged a partial retest fee, which is usually half of the original testing cost.
After 10 working days: If you bring your car back after 10 working days, you will be charged for a full MOT.
If you feel that your car has unfairly failed its MOT and you want to appeal the decision, be sure to discuss the reasons with the testing center first, to clarify any miscommunication.
However, if you still feel that the decision was wrong, there are steps you can take. In the meantime, don’t carry out any repairs or modifications on the car, as this can cause the appeal process to be canceled.
Obtain a complaint form: Fill out the ‘Complain about an MOT’ form and send it to the DVSA within 14 working days of the original test date.
An alternative appointment to retest your car will be arranged within five days. While you’ll be required to pay the full MOT fee again, you’ll be issued a full or partial refund if your appeal is successful.
It’s illegal to drive with an invalid MOT certificate. If your car has failed and the date on your certificate has passed, you can only drive your car to be repaired or to a pre-arranged MOT appointment, and only if it is completely roadworthy at all times. Driving in a car that has a failed MOT is never recommended, and doing so might mean you are not covered by your insurance provider.
It’s estimated that nearly half of MOT failures can be avoided by doing simple, regular upkeep. Read up to find out what’s checked in an MOT and learn how to pass.
Do I need to keep my MOT certificate?
Along with your paper copy, the DVSA keeps an electronic record of your test certificate. Whilst this electronic record will be used by police during any driving offenses, it is highly recommended that you also keep your paper copy safe for certain circumstances.
One of the most significant times you’ll need the paper copy of your MOT test certificate is when you are planning on selling your car. Any prospective buyer will need to see the most recent certificate as evidence of the car being roadworthy at the time of purchase, as the general public cannot access these digital records.
It is also important to have the paper certificate in the event of an accident or insurance claim. Your claim is likely to be affected if you don’t have this paper certificate handy, which could mean you lose out on a significant amount of money, especially in the event of an injury.
Accidents happen, so if you have lost or damaged your current MOT paper certificate, it can be replaced. A replacement is available at any MOT center, and you’ll need to provide the original MOT test number, or the V5C document reference number (which can be found on your V5C certificate).
The center is likely to charge you a fee of up to £10 for this replacement.
The short answer: no. If your car is over three years old, the law dictates it must undergo an MOT test. This is annual, and can be taken up to one calendar month prior to the last test date. The only circumstances during which you can legally drive the car on public roads after this date is to the test center, and to an area for repairs should they be needed.
Without a certificate, you’ll also be unable to renew your road tax. Without road tax, your car is also illegal to drive on public roads and property. If you’ve forgotten your MOT renewal date, enter your reg in our web and check it!