Pre-MoT Test Home Checks

Receiving an MoT failure certificate can be an irritating and expensive inconvenience but Rob Marshall advises that a few easy home checks will reduce the risk.

Follow these straightforward DIY home checks to reduce the chance of an MoT Test failure.

Intended to eradicate the increasing number of dilapidated jalopies from UK roads, the Ministry of Transport introduced a compulsory inspection in 1960 for cars that were aged ten years or more. In the MoT Test’s early years, the checks were incredibly basic but, as cars became more complicated, its scope was widened and the initial ten-years’ grace period was reduced to three. Recently, anti-lock brakes, Electronic Stability Control, battery security, airbags and the presence of a catalytic converter have all been included within the Test’s scope.

MOT graphic

Yet, an MoT Test should still be treated by any car owner as a minimum safety standard. Driving without a valid certificate, unless driving to and from a pre-booked MoT Test, will invalidate a typical insurance policy and is an offence, as is driving a car on a public road that is in a condition that falls below Test standards.

Although MoT testers are well-trained and briefed by VOSA, the government body that regulates the Test’s standards, every examination remains subjective and the opinions of one MoT Tester might not be shared by another but, at the time of writing, certain items remain untested, such as the condition of rear windscreen wipers and the serviceability of the spare tyre. Although the MoT Test covers a myriad of components, the examiner is not permitted to dismantle any part of the vehicle, which means that worn-out handbrake shoes might still work well enough to scrape though.

As the assessment does not cover the mechanical condition of the engine (unless the tail-pipe emissions are excessive), the clutch, or the transmission, a pass certificate should never be taken as evidence that a vehicle’s running gear is in exemplary condition. Any responsible owner should ensure that his or her car is maintained regularly, so that potentially dangerous faults have the best chance of being spotted, prior to an MoT Test being conducted.

Where to go

Some garages choose to offer a discounted Test rate to stimulate business, which falls beneath the recommended rate set by VOSA. There is no indication that such reductions mean that one garage is any more stringent, or lax, than another one, but all MoT stations are graded by VOSA, which tends to favour a higher number of failure certificates being issued. For many independent businesses, MoT work is fundamental to their survival, especially as many car owners choose to combine a full service and an MoT Test together, however research carefully prior to entrusting anybody with your car.

The MoT Test should last for approximately 45 minutes, although the exact timing will vary. Owners are not permitted to accompany the tester but the inspection can be overseen from a designated viewing area. Once completed, the relevant certificate will be issued and logged electronically, via VOSA’s computer link. Although this procedure helps to prevent fraud, a further benefit permits your car’s MoT Test history to be checked here.

Should a VT30 failure certificate be issued, a retest fee is not due, as long as the vehicle is left at the testing station for repair and re-tested within ten working days. Should you take the car away and repair it elsewhere, a partial retest fee might be due but the decision is down to each garage. If the car is resubmitted outside of the 10 working days slot, or it fails its partial retest, then a full MoT Test will need to be performed again.

Home checks

MOT Graphic

About 

GEM Motoring Assist are a breakdown cover company and road safety charity that has been serving motorists for over 80 years.