Why does my car need an MOT test?

For anyone with a car of more than three years old, the annual MOT test is a fact of motoring life, but have you ever stopped to wonder why it exists?

Words by: First published: 23rd October 2015
The MOT test was set up way back in 1960, and is a legal requirement. If your car needs one and doesn’t have it, you face a £1000 penalty, as well as being unable to renew your road tax and almost certainly invalidating your car insurance, which risks a further 6-8 penalty points and, in turn, invalidates any claims.

These are the most important facts you should know:
The test’s purpose is to check a car’s safety and roadworthiness, in particular its brakes and emissions.
It’s necessary on a vehicle’s third birthday, then annually.
It includes an extensive list of internal and external checks.
It is a visual check only - examiners are not allowed to change or remove anything on your car, which is why you still need a service.
There are over 600 ways to fail.
The government caps the cost of the test at £54.85* (excluding VAT). Find out more in our 'How much should I pay for an MOT test' article.
The test is controlled by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, previously known as VOSA), and MOTs must be carried out by a qualified and approved “Nominated Tester” (NT).
Once the test is completed, you will receive either a Pass or Fail – with a corresponding certificate. Just over 60% of vehicles pass annually, and when this happens, the driver is issued with a VT20 MOT certificate. In the event of a Fail, the driver receives a VT30 certificate, and you can find out more about what your next steps can be by reading our article 'What can I do if my car fails its MOT test'.

You can find your vehicle's MOT failure rate through MotorEasy's MOT Index, but in the meantime, these are our Top Tips:
1. Renew your MOT up to 28 days in advance. Your expiry date will still be the same next year (i.e. your next MOT lasts up to 13 months). If you fail an early test, your previous MOT is still valid, so the vehicle can be used while repairs are arranged.
2. Renew at the earliest convenience to avoid missing your test. A third of motorists have done this, risking fines and penalty points.
3. Auto Trader and MotorEasy send you reminders for convenience.
4. Pick the right garage.
5. Prepare your car before the test.
Q. What happens if you have missed Your MOT test?
A. It is legal to drive to and from a pre-booked test, but you should carry proof of your appointment in case you are stopped by the police.

Q. What can you do if you have lost your MOT Certificate?
A. Duplicate forms can be obtained from any test centre, but there is usually a fee (about £10).However, you are not required to bring anything with you to an MOT test, and MOT details can be reviewed at any time by logging in to My Auto Trader.

*RRP for motorbikes is £29.65 (excluding VAT)
Avoid MOT stress and panic by having MotorEasy's engineers manage the garage on your behalf. Plus, book your MOT well in advance to get a better ramp time, allowing you to make a considered decision & ensure value.
Related topics:
Car ownership