All vehicles in the UK must be kept roadworthy. The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is responsible for ensuring all vehicles are certified to be in good condition for use on public roads. The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is completed annually to check the safety and roadworthiness of motor vehicles, as well as test exhaust emissions.
About the MOT Test
Although the Ministry of Transport no longer exists, MOT is still officially used for the annual test and certificates issued by the DVSA. The MOT test is required for all vehicles over three years old, except in Northern Ireland where the requirement is for vehicles older than four years. Certain vehicles must be tested when they are a year old, including ambulances, taxis and private passenger vehicles. A MOT can be renewed up to a month before it expires in each following year. Certain vehicles do not have to be tested. Exempt vehicles include tractors, electric goods vehicles, cars and motorbikes manufactured prior to 1960, and any vehicle that is less than three years old.
The MOT test was introduced in 1960 as a way to test brakes, lights and steering components of motor vehicles when they were over ten years old. The test was then repeated every subsequent year. Since 1960, the MOT test has been expanded to test tyres, windscreen wipers, washers, direction indicators, brake lights, horns, body structure and chassis, exhaust systems, anti-lock braking systems, rear wheel bearings and steering, rear seat belts, secondary restraint systems, batteries and wiring, speedometers, steering locks, and electronic stability control. In the 1990s, emissions tests for petrol and diesel engines were also added.
Test classes are structured depending on the type of vehicle. Class I vehicles includes motorbikes with up to 200cc engines and Class II covers all motorbikes, including Class I bikes. Class III includes three-wheeled vehicles with up to 450 kilograms. Cars, including three-wheeled motor vehicles with over 450 kilograms, taxis, minibuses for up to 12 passengers, motor caravans, dual purpose vehicles, ambulances and goods vehicles with up to 3,000 kilograms Design Gross Weight (DGW) are grouped under Class IV. Class V includes private passenger vehicles, ambulances, dual purpose vehicles and motor caravans for 13 or more passengers. Goods vehicles weighting over 3,000 kilograms and a DGW of 3,500 kilograms are covered by Class VII. Class VI includes public service vehicles with more than eight passenger seats, which require the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) test). The HGV test is required for large goods vehicles.
Getting an MOT Certificate
It is illegal to drive a vehicle that is required to be tested without a valid MOT certificate. A vehicle can only be driven without an MOT if a test has been booked and the driver is travelling to a test centre. The MOT test is carried out for a fee by testers at local repair garages across the UK. These test stations have been recognised as MOT stations by the DVSA. In Northern Ireland, tests are carried out by government test centres. Approved MOT test centres are identified with a blue sign featuring three white triangles.
If a vehicle passes the MOT test, an MOT certificate will be issued by the DVSA. The test record will also be included in a secure MOT central database. All certificates issued after 18 November 2012 outline the odometer reading and history, including the mileage recorded for the current and past three MOT tests. Should a vehicle fail the MOT test, a notification of failure is issued and recorded. The vehicle can still be driven using an existing MOT certificate, if it is valid. If the certificate has expired, repairs must be undertaken to make the vehicle roadworthy in advance of booking another MOT test. Any driver operating a vehicle without a MOT or a failed MOT could be prosecuted if the vehicle is not roadworthy.
For more information about the MOT and obtaining an MOT certificate, visit www.gov.uk/getting-an-mot. Alternatively, contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency directly on 0300 123 900 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.