When is my MOT due – Can I drive without an MOT – What is Class 4 – Expired MOT?
Everything you need to know about MOT tests and how to help achieve a pass.
Yes, believe it or not, we have managed to cover all that and more in just one blog! Read on and you can find out all you need to know about getting an MOT test including cost, time, what it covers, what the fault categories mean, what cars are exempt and what you can do yourself to help make sure your car passes.
2020 saw millions of drivers take advantage of the MOT extension offered by the UK Government during the pandemic and delay their cars’ test. This also gave these millions of drivers a completely new expiry date and also therefore a new test date. Thousands of test dates were pushed back into September and October 2021, and as Buzz Lightyear says, ‘and beyond’ (I’ll leave the ‘to infinity’ bit out for this article although I’m sure it feels like it for some J). We always recommend you book early – our online MOT scheduler has live booking slots available right through until Christmas! Here’s the link for you just in case you want to go ahead and get it booked right now.
To help make things clearer, we’ve answered the most common questions we get asked around the MOT certification, from how to check your expiry date and what it costs, to how long it takes and what it covers. We’ve also included a few links with further information you might find useful.
When can I have my MOT test carried out? Does it have to be done on the day it expires?
No it doesn’t. If you want your expiry date to remain the same, you can have your test carried out up to a month minus a day, before it’s expiry date and still retain the same expiry date the following year. It’s a bit like paying for 12 months and getting 13. So as you can see, you don’t need to leave it until the last minute. If you have it done earlier than one month minus one day in advance, you’ll get 12 months certification from the date the test is carried out. You can book your MOT test as far in advance as you want to.
What is the MOT?
The MOT test is an annual check of a vehicle’s roadworthiness, to ensure that it meets basic standards for safety.
You might see adverts for tests with the classification in small print ‘Class 4 only’. Different vehicles undergo different tests, with separate categories for cars, motorbikes, and large passenger and goods vehicles. Most cars and small vans fall under category Class 4, which is the most common category.
When is my car’s MOT due?
For the first three years from registration, cars are exempt. After that they must be tested once a year until they reach 40 years old (how many of you have had your car this age?). After this, they are once again exempt, although you can still present them for testing out of choice and for your own peace of mind with regards to maintaining their safety.
Your car’s first MOT will be due on the third anniversary of its first registration and the pass certificate will be valid for 12 months from that date.
You can submit your car for a test up to one month (minus a day remember as mentioned above) before the current MOT certificate runs out and keep the same renewal date. So to clarify, as the Government haven’t made it straightforward – if your expiry date is September 15th 2021, the earliest you can get an MOT test and keep the same renewal date for next year is August 16th 2021. If you take your vehicle for its test on August 15th 2021 the expiry date changes to August 14th the following year. If your vehicle fails the MOT test before the expiry date, the old certificate is still valid, but remember to consider what the failures are as the vehicle might not actually be safe to drive.
How do I check when my MOT is due?
After each MOT test you should be given a paper copy of the pass certificate, this will show you when your expiry date is, so this is where you could look first.
If you’ve lost this certificate, or maybe it’s just too much hassle rummaging around in your filing to find it, the DVSA has a free online tool for checking your car’s MOT status which shows its expiry date as well as its certification and safety recall history. For ease, here’s the link.
How much does an MOT cost?
Whilst we know our £35 MOT price is fabulous value, you should know that there’s also a maximum price any garage can charge for a Class 4 (car) MOT which is currently £54.85. This is set by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).
Here at Just Nice Clean Cars in Warwick, our standard MOT test price is just £35, and we also often run seasonal offers and offer a £29 test when carried out with a full or major vehicle service. If we don’t have an offer running when yours is due, you can always join our Drivers’ Club and you’ll receive a £10 off voucher that can be used on services or MOT’s (as always, some T’s & C’s apply) – pretty good hey?
How long does the MOT take?
There is no set length of time for an MOT test but most garages, including ourselves, work on it typically taking between 45 minutes and an hour – not too long if you want to wait around for it on site. You can of course drop your vehicle off and leave it with us, go for a wander around Warwick, meet friends for lunch or visit the wonderful range of independent local Warwick businesses we have in the historic town. We’ll always let you know, via text or telephone call, when your vehicle is ready for collection.
Can anyone carry out an MOT?
Very simply No. An MOT test can only be carried out at an accredited MOT testing station and by a qualified MOT tester who has undergone specific training. Both the centre and the tester are regularly inspected by the DVSA to ensure standards are upheld.
All MOT test centres will display the MOT symbol of three intersecting white triangles on a blue background. Centres are no longer required to display the qualification certificates of all their MOT technicians but many still choose to do so. All centres should however display the MOT Noticeboard which shows the business name that is authorised to carry out MOT’s and explains the process, your rights, retests, appeals and contact details of the DVSA.
What does the MOT cover?
The MOT test looks at the mechanical and electrical operation of your car to ensure it meets certain safety standards set by the DVSA.
In 2018 the test changed to include new fault categories and stricter emissions testing and as the drive towards lower CO2 emissions continues, we expect it will change again in the not too distant future.
The MOT technician carrying out your test will either grant a pass certificate or issue a failure notice on the grounds of major or dangerous faults. What about minor faults? Well, minor faults are classed as exactly that, minor, and do not constitute a fault but instead act as an advisory of issues that you will need to get addressed soon. For example, your tyre tread may be at 3mm depth when the MOT test is done and the legal minimum tread for your tyres is 1.6mm. A good MOT centre will ask you how many miles you regularly do and give you advice to indicate when you should look to change them in order to remain road legal. Remember, they are advisory only and it’s up to you to keep an eye on them, check them again in due course and then choose when and where the work is carried out to maintain your vehicles road worthiness and safety.
A full list of what items are checked during your test can be found on the DVSA website. The major areas covered include the structural integrity of the vehicle; braking, suspension and steering; fuel system; tyre condition; lighting; exhaust system and emissions; seats; horn and registration plates.
What can I check myself before an MOT test?
We’ve posted in a previous blog about the top three reasons a car will fail its MOT and what you can do to check and prevent them yourself (read that article here). Of course, some issues are pretty hard to spot to the untrained eye but many failures can be easily avoided.
In fact, many of the 10 most common reasons for MOT failures can be avoided by carrying out some simple maintenance to avoid your vehicle failing. These include issues with lights, tyres, brakes, suspension and visibility. The DVSA provides the following list of items it recommends drivers check themselves before taking their vehicle to an MOT test:
What you can check yourself to prevent your vehicle failing its MOT test:
- the windscreen, windows and mirrors are clean
- all lights work
- the brakes work
- engine oil
- water level in the radiator or expansion tank
- brake fluid level
- windscreen washer fluid level
- tyres – they must have the correct tread depth and be free of cuts and defects
Can I drive a car without an MOT?
No, definitely not. It is a legal requirement and if you are caught driving a car without a valid MOT certificate you can be fined £1,000.
Just to be clear, and despite what some people might tell you, there is no grace period after its expiry date. The DVSA believe giving one month (minus a day) before your certificate expires, is plenty of time for you to have arranged your MOT and we tend to agree. We see so many people leave it until the last few days before their expiry date to book their test and then run out of time to get any remedial work carried out. Booking ahead gives you a greater choice of appointment dates and times to suit you, as well as potentially saving you money in case you want to shop around to ave any repair work carried out. Check out our online MOT scheduler here and book ahead now.
The only times you can legally drive without an MOT are:
1. if you are driving the car to the testing station to have a pre-booked test carried out,
2. if you are taking it to be repaired,
3. if the vehicle is more than 40 years old and thus exempt from the test.
We hope that has helped dispel any myths you may have heard and even enabled you to carry out some pre-MOT checks yourself. We’re always here to help and happy to discuss any issues you may have with your car, provide advice about work you need done, give you a no obligation quote or just book you in the traditional way – on the telephone – 01926 836900.
Our service and MOT centre is open 08:30 – 17:30 Monday to Friday and by appointment only on Saturdays.