The MOT Test: What Is It and Why Do We Need It?

Friday 31 August, 2012

These might seem like silly questions. But though most of us know our cars need regular MOT checks, we may not be clear about why and when we should have them.

In a nutshell, the MOT test is there to keep you legal, your car roadworthy and other road users safe. Without an up-to-date MOT you’re driving illegally, your car insurance is invalid and you can’t renew your tax disc.

Here’s what the MOT test covers 

The MOT exists to make sure your car is not a danger on the road. It’s a legal requirement for vehicles aged three years or more to ensure they meet the basic standards of roadworthiness set out by the Ministry Of Transport (hence the name).

The test looks at all the elements in the picture above – everything from the car body, fuel system and exhaust emissions through to the windscreen wipers and even the horn.

When should an MOT test be done?

Once a year. The first one is due three years from the date the car was originally registered. Think of it as your car’s birthday or anniversary.  Not as meaningful as your Mum or other half’s special day, but just as risky to forget!

You can get your car tested anytime up to a month before the expiry date on your current certificate. And it’s up to YOU to remember when the check is due.

One way to jog your memory is to schedule an annual service with your garage around the time the MOT is due and have both done together.  Or why not let us take care of it?  As well as offering all kinds of services, we’re authorised by VOSA (Vehicle & Operator Services Agency) to carry out MOT tests and would be happy to drop you an MOT reminder when yours is due.

An MOT is not the same as a service

Though people do get them confused.  A service refers to routine car maintenance, like repairing or replacing worn-out components, checking brakes, changing oil and so on. But nothing is changed on a vehicle during an MOT test.

And it goes without saying (but hey, we’ll say it anyway) that regularly serviced cars are more likely to pass their MOT check…

Why you need an MOT Certificate

You’re probably familiar with the green certificate issued when your car passes its MOT, but in October 2011 this was replaced by a white paper version to reduce fraud.

You need to supply the certificate when you apply for a tax disc but in fact your car’s entry on VOSA’s central MOT database is the real proof of its roadworthiness, not the piece of paper.  If you’re not sure if your car has a valid MOT, you can check it out on the VOSA website.

Bear in mind an MOT pass is no guarantee your car will be roadworthy until next year’s check -anything can happen – just that it’s in satisfactory shape at the time of the test.

Help, my car’s failed its MOT!

Don’t panic.  The reasons your car didn’t make the grade may be easy to fix.  And you might be entitled to a free MOT re-test, depending on the reasons for the failure.

So next month we’ll be talking about common MOT faults and how they can be fixed.  If you’ve got a burning question about your car in the meantime, why not give us a call?


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