When is my car’s MOT due?

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What is an MOT?
When is your MOT due?
Choosing the right MOT centre
What happens
Top tips
MOT myths
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What is an MOT?

All motor vehicles over three years old need to have a valid MOT test certificate - but what is it, how does it work and when is yours due? We’ve got you sorted.👇

Standing for the Ministry of Transport, an MOT test is an annual examination of your vehicles. It looks at a range of factors and judges each vehicle on its roadworthiness and safety.

Driving without a valid MOT certificate can result in a £1000 fine, and invalidate your motor insurance, so it’s important to remember when your current certificate runs out.

TL;DR 📚
You must have a valid MOT certificate to hit the road. You can shop around for deals and use our handy tips to help you pass.

When is your MOT due?

According to a 2020 survey, 64% of drivers said they had forgotten when their MOT was due!

Cuvva have made it easy, however, and designed a free MOT checker. It’s super easy. Just type in your number plate and we’ll tell you when your car’s MOT is due. Don’t be part of that 64%!

Because we’re considerate, our tool even lets you know when your car tax is due.

Booking an MOT

Your MOT test can be booked up to 28 days before your current certificate expires. It’s important to note that if your car fails the test, you can still drive it providing the existing certificate is still valid and no ‘dangerous’ faults have been flagged.

In the event of a fail (don’t worry, it happens!), you’ll need to have the issue repaired and retake the test before the expiry date of your old MOT.

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Choosing the right MOT centre

The cost of an MOT test varies depending on the garage and type of vehicle, and many test centres offer free or reduced fees if you retake your failed MOT with them, so it’s wise to shop around and find the best garage for your budget.

With more than 24,000 approved test centres throughout the UK, you shouldn’t have to go too far to find one that’s suitable.

If you drive an older vehicle that is likely to fail its MOT first time, it’s worth bearing in mind that a garage offering £15 MOTs may not be quite so attractive if your car has a ‘dangerous’ fault listed.

In this case, as you cannot legally drive it away, the garage will have to carry out the repair, and if they are less-than-budget-friendly with their labour and part cost, you may end up paying a lot more than you bargained for!

Council MOT centres

If you think your vehicle may not need any repairs or only minor work to pass, then it’s worth searching for a local council MOT centre.

Mainly designed for the council’s own vehicles, they can also be used by the general public. As very few will actually carry out any repairs, if your car is likely to fail with a ‘dangerous’ fault, preventing you from legally driving away, you may end up paying to transport your car to a garage.

What happens in an MOT?

Taking around an hour to complete, the examination follows a strict checklist, ensuring that your vehicle’s components meet the minimum standards set out by the DVSA.

Steering

The steering components are examined for condition and performance - this includes checking the level of steering fluid in the reservoir of vehicles with power steering.

Suspension

The parts of the suspension system, such as the shock absorbers, are closely inspected for excessive wear and tear.

Wheels and tyres

The tyres must be appropriate for your vehicle and its usage, with a tread of not less than 1.6mm.

Brakes

Your vehicle’s braking system must perform well. This includes the brakes themselves, pedals and relevant dashboard warning lights.

Fuel system and emissions

Your fuel system is inspected for leaks, which includes the fit of your fuel cap. There should be enough oil and fuel in your vehicle for the examiner to carry out checks on your exhaust emissions.

Your vehicle’s carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions must fall within the legal limits, without any leaks in the exhaust system, and with an effective silencer.

Windscreen, washers and screen wash system

The examiner will check the windscreen for any cracks or chips larger than 10mm in the driver’s eyeline and the effectiveness of your wipers and screen washing system.

Bodywork and doors

Your car’s bodywork is inspected for damage or excessive corrosion. This check includes the opening and closing of the bonnet, boot and doors.

Seats and seatbelts

Seats should be securely fitted and seatbelts, including the rear ones, must be in a good condition, operate smoothly and conform to all safety regulations.

Electrical system

Your car’s battery must not show any signs of leaking, whilst all electrical wiring should be securely fitted and undamaged.

Lights, reflectors and mirrors

The examiner checks the condition, performance, and angle of your lights, and whether they display the correct colours. A blueish hint is acceptable for the headlights, but white must be the main colour.

Reflectors and mirrors should be correctly positioned, and have nothing obscuring them - so the fluffy dice and funky air fresheners have to go!

Registration plate and vehicle identification number

Your registration plate needs to be legible, securely attached and conform to the current regulations, while the vehicle identification number, or VIN, should be clearly visible, although its position varies depending on the manufacturer.

What isn’t covered by an MOT?

An MOT is not the same as a vehicle service, so you might be surprised by what is left out of an MOT test.

Because they are not considered to be critical in regards to safety, the engine, gearbox and clutch are not checked as part of your test, and although the tyres are examined, your spare wheel is not included.

Don’t hit the road without a valid MOT certificate
Informartion signs give details on things like the congestion zone

Top tips to pass your MOT

There are a number of things you can do yourself to give your vehicle the best chance of passing its MOT, saving you from asking - and paying for, your local mechanic to do them!

  • Mirrors - examine them for cracks, sharp exposed edges, and make sure they are clean
  • Windscreen and windows - have any chips larger than 10mm, or cracks repaired and ensure the glass is clean and streak-free
  • Windscreen washer fluid - this should be topped up and the system checked for performance
  • Tyres - inspect your tyres for tread depth, cracks or missing chunks, and replace if necessary. A handy tip for checking the tread is to push a 20 pence piece into the grooves and if you can’t see the outer band of the coin, your tyres should have enough tread
  • Lights - check every light for performance and condition
  • Oil levels - top up your oil if necessary
  • Horn - your horn needs to be loud enough to be heard over other traffic

Common MOT myths

With the phrase ‘MOT test’ striking fear into the heart of many a driver, especially with the average age of UK cars being almost 9 years old, we take a look at some of the most common myths surrounding MOTs.

Can I insure my car without a valid MOT certificate?

Yes. Whilst you need a valid MOT to get your car taxed, you don’t need one to insure your car. It’s important to note, however, that not having an up-to-date MOT certificate can negate your insurance policy.

Is there a ‘grace period’?

No. Many drivers believe that there’s a grace period of two weeks after an MOT has lapsed. This simply isn’t the case, and it’s important to know when your current certificate expires. To check when yours needs renewing, use Cuvva’s easy MOT checker.

Must I have any repairs done at the same garage as the MOT?

No. You are free to have repairs fixed by any garage you choose, and as long as your MOT hasn’t expired, drive to retake your test. However, if any faults are listed as dangerous, you cannot drive your car and it makes sense to have the MOT garage carry out any repairs.

Does an MOT guarantee that my car is safe to drive for the next year?

Unfortunately not - however, almost 50% of UK motorists believe that it does. An MOT only confirms that a vehicle meets the minimum standard of roadworthiness at the time the test was carried out.

Do I need a valid MOT to park my car on the road outside my house?

Yes. If you need to park your vehicle on a public highway, even if it is right outside your front door, it must have an up-to-date MOT certificate.

Can the police seize your car for having no MOT?

If the police stop you and request your MOT certificate, it can lead to being prosecuted for non-compliance if you fail to provide one within the allotted time. The only reason for your car to be on the road without a valid MOT is if you’re driving to a pre-booked test appointment.

Is a faulty radio an MOT fail?

No, but 3% of drivers think it is!

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It’s all well and good passing your MOT but without car insurance you are not allowed on the road.

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Updated on 3rd April 2023