How much should I pay for an MOT test?

Cut-price MOT tests may sound like a dream come true, but are they less attractive than they first appear?

First published: 15th December 2015
When looking online, you can find many independent garages offering £25 MOT tests, some even including collection and delivery.

On first impressions, this deal appears too good to pass up: a huge reduction in price, and everything is done from the convenience of your own home. However, unless you are a mechanic or related to one, you should be wary of these offers.

The Government sets the maximum price for MOT tests (currently £54.85 excluding VAT), and if you drive into a garage in off the street, they will usually charge this. It’s why most franchise dealers charge £54.85, even when their hourly labour rate is considerably more.

In short, garages operate by making money on parts and labour. But, during an MOT test, the costs break down as follows:
  • The average independent labour rate is around £45/hour. The rate at a franchised dealer is even higher
  • The average MOT takes 1.25 hours labour time (including five-mile collection & delivery)
  • This means the labour cost for an MOT is around £56.25
Other Costs
  • Garages must also pay for fuel, buildings, insurance, equipment and other rates
In other words, even if they charge the full amount, your MOT test COSTS the garage:
  • About £50 with collection and delivery or…
  • About £30 if you drop off the car
Knowing this, ask yourself why would some garages provide MOT bookings which forego an hour’s profitable work, while also costing them £20-£30? It’s because they intend to make up for it by charging inflated prices for repair work from MOT failures.

Bogus MOT results have historically been an issue. However, with recent improvements to monitoring by the DVSA and examination of testers, this is being addressed.

The second major issue, which is more difficult to police and less frequently discussed, is the repair quote and quality of work.

A sensibly priced MOT means the garage isn’t under so much pressure to make money on repairs; it also means they are more likely to repair than replace, and the focus is on providing value and ensuring repeat business, rather than hitting their repair margins.

Garages trying to retrieve losses incurred by performing a cut-price MOT are more likely to exaggerate problems, prematurely recommend replacement, and inflate labour time and parts margins. Also, due to the extra pressure during these bookings, they are more error-prone and less punctual.

In summary, if a garage offers you an MOT test for less than £30, be cautious. If they offer collection and delivery included for free, be very cautious.

Unless you are sufficiently technical to know whether the repair quote is fair, the initial £20 saving can end up costing hundreds of pounds.

To find out more, read our article on 'How can I pick the right garage to carry out an MOT test'.

Book an MOT without the hassle for less than £40. MotorEasy's engineers manage the garage on your behalf, ensuring value and necessity on any findings. All garages are vetted and monitored to ensure their quality of work.
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