Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MOT?

The MOT scheme is a road safety measure which applies, primarily, to cars, motorbikes and light goods vehicles more than 3 years old. The scheme is designed to ensure, as far as possible, that each of these vehicles is properly maintained and, at least once a year, is examined at an authorised MOT Test Centre to ensure it complies with certain important requirements of the law.

Note that the MOT is based on the condition of the vehicle on the day. The Test Centre will separately list and inform you of any ‘Advisory’ items that have passed the test but will require attention in the future.

Extent of an MOT test

The MOT test certificate relates only to the condition of a vehicle’s testable items at the time of the test. It should not be regarded as evidence of the vehicle’s condition at any other time; nor should it be accepted as evidence of the general mechanical condition of the vehicle.

What does MOT stand for?

MOT stands for Ministry Of Transport (now the Department of Transport) which established compulsory vehicle testing in 1960.

What is DVSA?

DVSA stands for Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency and is an executive agency of the Department of Transport. DVSA controls the operation of the MOT test process.

When is my car, motorbike or light goods vehicle eligible for its first MOT and how frequently will it be tested subsequently?

Cars, motorbikes and light goods vehicles require an MOT test once they are three years old and, subsequently, once every year. Once your vehicle is eligible for an MOT, it is your responsibility to ensure that it is tested every 12 months. Without an MOT certificate, you will be unable to renew your road tax and your vehicle insurance may be invalid.

Can I drive my vehicle on the road without an MOT?

Subject to one proviso, it is illegal to drive most cars, motorbikes or light goods vehicles without a valid MOT if the vehicle concerned is three or more years old. Computerisation of the MOT process means that the governing agencies including the DVLA will know if your vehicle’s MOT certificate has expired.

The proviso is that you are allowed to drive your vehicle without a valid MOT to an MOT Test Centre (note, however, that you must already have booked it in for an MOT test).

How much does an MOT cost?

There are maximum fees that can be charged for MOT tests (see table in MOTS Explained). These fees are determined by VOSA and are adjusted periodically.

Note that Just MOT’s Limited will always give a discount on these maximum fees.

What, in particular, must I advise when booking an MOT?

You must advise the vehicle’s registration number.

What do I need to bring with me when I bring my vehicle for an MOT?

Please bring any necessary keys to open the boot and fuel cap.

How long does the MOT test take?

This depends on the vehicle and its state of repair. Generally, an MOT test takes 30 to 45 minutes.

What happens if my vehicle fails its MOT?

Should your vehicle fail, you will be issued with a VT3O Certificate listing the items that caused the failure. Make sure that you are clear as to what rectification is required. There is no set time limit before a re-test and it is at the discretion of the individual. As long as the vehicle is presented within 10 working days, only a partial re-test is required. After 10 working days, the vehicle will need to undergo a full MOT.

Note, however, that a vehicle that does not have a valid MOT is not allowed to be driven on the road except when going to an MOT Test Centre for a pre-booked MOT test.

Do I have to have a full MOT again if my vehicle fails?

As long as the vehicle is presented within 10 working days, only a partial re-test is required. After 10 working days, the vehicle will need to undergo a full MOT.

Am I notified by the DVSA when my test date is due?

No. Unlike road tax where you receive a reminder, an MOT is your responsibility.

Register on the Registration page and Just MOT’s will remind you by email just before your MOT due date.

Can my vehicle have its MOT before the due date?

Yes. Within one month before the MOT certificate expiry date. The new certificate will run for 12 months from that original expiry date. However, if the test is earlier than that one month period, the 12 month certificate period will run from the date of the test.

I have lost my MOT certificate, what can I do?

Your MOT Test Centre should be able to give you a duplicate certificate. There is a £10 fee.

I have blue side lights, are they acceptable for an MOT?

No. Side lights must show white light to the front and red to the rear, no other colours are acceptable.

When tested the side lights must be two front and two rear position lights with one of each on each side. Each pair must be mounted symmetrically, at about the same height and the same distance in from the side of the vehicle.

Any additional side lights are optional and are not included in the MOT.

My headlights have "rainbow" bulbs fitted, will they pass an MOT?

If a headlight is intended to be one of a matched pair it must emit light of substantially the same colour as its counterpart and must emit substantially white or yellow light.

I have extra brake lights on my car, how will this affect the MOT?

A vehicle first used on or after 1 January 1971 must be fitted with at least two brake lights, one on either side of the vehicle, at about the same height and about the same distance in from the side of the vehicle. They must emit a steady red light.

If additional brake lights are fitted which operate when the brake is applied, then they may be tested as well.

My indicator lights are part of the brake lights and show red light, will my car fail its MOT?

A vehicle, first used before 1 September 1965, may have indicators incorporated with stop lights or combined with side or rear lights. In these cases both the front indicator lights may be white and both the rear indicator lights may be red. After 1 September 1965, all indicator lights must emit amber light.

I have fitted a small steering wheel on my car. How will this affect my MOT?

The MOT test includes an examination of the steering wheel for strength and/or a condition that would hamper proper control or is likely to injure the driver’s hands.

I have lowered the suspension on my car. How will this affect my MOT?

For MOT purposes a vehicle with altered suspension will be assessed in the same way as one with unchanged suspension.

One recurring problem with lowered suspension is that an MOT Test Centre may be unable to accommodate the vehicle without causing damage to body skirts etc when it is driven onto an item of test equipment.

The air bag warning lamp is permanently lit or does not operate. Will the vehicle fail its MOT?

Yes, the air bag system is included in the MOT test.

My parking brake is electrically operated. How will this affect the MOT?

The MOT test requires that on vehicles used on or after 1 January 1968, the parking brake must be capable of being maintained in operation by direct mechanical action only. Electrically operated or hydraulic systems are not acceptable unless they can be held on by direct mechanical means.

Are the wheels removed for an MOT?

No, there is no reason to remove the wheels for an MOT.

If the front tyres on my car are smaller than the rears will it fail the MOT?

For MOT purposes, tyres on the same axle must be of the same nominal size, ratio and structure. This does not permit the use of ‘space saver’ type spare wheels. Where tyres with different structures are used on different axles the following rule must be observed:

  • When Cross Ply tyres are mixed with either Radial Ply or Bias Belted tyres the Cross Plies must be fitted to the front.
  • When Bias Belted tyres are mixed with Radial Ply tyres the Radials must be fitted to the rear.
There’s no room in my vehicle for a spare tyre so I do not carry one. Will this result in an MOT failure?

The spare tyre and wheel are not included in the list of testable items. The tester may advise that it is ‘missing’.

The front tyres on my car have worn more on the inner edges. Will my car fail the MOT?

The grooves of the tread pattern must be at least 1.6mm deep throughout a continuous band comprising the central three quarters of the breadth of tread and around the entire circumference of the tyre. Each side of the central band may be bald but exposed cords or plies will constitute a failure.

There are no door handles on the outside of my car and the doors are opened by means of a remote control. Will my car pass its MOT?

The test criteria states that all doors must latch securely in the closed position and that the driver’s and front passenger’s doors must be capable of being opened from both inside and outside the vehicle by means of the relevant control in each case. In this instance the remote control is the relevant means.

Windscreens & Wipers
I have modified my windscreen wipers from two arms to one which parks in the centre of the windscreen. Is this acceptable at an MOT test?

Wiper blades that park automatically in a position that obscures the driver’s view through the windscreen will fail.

I have a GPS or SatNav screen mounted on my dashboard. Will this affect the MOT test?

If when the vehicle is presented for a test the screen obscures the driver’s view of the road the vehicle will fail. We suggest that you remove the device prior to presenting the vehicle for the MOT.

My car failed its MOT because a windscreen sticker encroached on the swept area. What is the swept area?

A windscreen sticker would result in an MOT fail if it encroached more than 10mm into Zone A. Zone A is the swept area of the windscreen, 290mm wide and centred on the centre of the steering wheel. Put simply this is the area of the windscreen at the driver’s side. A windscreen sticker may encroach up to 40mm in the remainder of the screen.

My rear wiper is not working properly. If I remove it will my car fail the MOT?

A rear wiper is not part of the MOT test. If you remove it completely ensure that the mechanism is not protruding so as to cause injury to any person coming into contact with it.

My vehicle has failed its MOT on excess emissions. What should I do?

We suggest you obtain a diagnostic investigation to identify the problem and the possible causes.

Do I have to clear the boot?

Yes, the boot must be sufficiently clear to allow an inspection of the floor.

The underside of the vehicle has become caked in mud. Is that a problem?

Yes, excessive mud must be removed prior to the MOT to allow an inspection of the underside.