It can be costly and a little bit tense but, like it or not, your Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is compulsory for keeping your car on the road legally.

In this article we answer some of the most common questions about MOT tests such as what is an MOT and why is one needed, how much is a car MOT and what happens if your vehicle fails its MOT.


What is an MOT?

An MOT test (Ministry of Transport, or simply MOT) checks that your vehicle meets road safety standards and the exhaust emissions standards required in the UK.


How often do you need an MOT?

Every car that is three years old or more must have an MOT test every year. This is vital to making sure that cars are safe to drive.


Why is an MOT required?

Through undertaking an annual MOT, an expert can uncover any areas that need to be fixed and advise you on any parts that may need repairing in the future. However, if your car fails its MOT test then you will have to have it repaired and undergo an MOT retest or else you can't drive it.

Whether it is your first MOT test or one of many that you have had before, it is important to know the rules and MOT costs involved.

It is also worth making sure you know what to do if you are dissatisfied with the service.

MOT's: What are the rules?


When must you have your MOT UK test?

You must get your MOT test done before the anniversary of your last one, or by the third anniversary of your car's registration. However, you can't have this done until one month before the anniversary of your last MOT test at the earliest.


What are the different MOT classes?

There are various vehicle MOT classes, which define what testing standards need to be applied:

Class 1 - Motorbikes (with or without sidecars) with an engine size up to 200 cc

Class 2 – Motorbikes (with or without sidecars) with an engine size larger than 200cc.

Class 3 - 3-wheeled vehicles with an unladen weight up to 450kg

Class 4 - Class 4 is the most common category as it includes most road vehicles:

  • Cars (with up to eight passenger seats)
  • 3-wheeled vehicles with an unladen weight of over 450kg
  • Motor caravans (campers, RVs, or motorhomes)
  • Private hire and public service vehicles such as ambulances and taxis
  • Private passenger vehicles (up to 12 passenger seats)
  • Goods vehicles with a gross weight of up to 3,000kg

Class 4a - Class 4 vehicles with 9-12 passenger seats require a seatbelt check

Class 5
  • Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (13-16 passenger seats)
  • Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (over 16 passenger seats)
  • Playbuses
  • Coaches

Class 5a - Class 5 vehicles with over 13 passenger seats which require a seatbelt check.

Class 7 - Goods and services vehicles with a gross weight of between 3,001kg and 3,500kg


Booking an MOT test in the UK

When booking your MOT test, make sure that it is at an approved centre.

Look out for the blue sign with three white triangles; if the centre displays this then you can have your MOT test done here.


What happens if your car passes the MOT?

If your vehicle passes the test then you will get an MOT certificate and the test record will be entered onto the MOT test database. Therefore, you will be able to prove that your vehicle is legal to drive.


What happens if your car fails the MOT?

If your car fails, you will get a notification of failure and you will have to get it repaired and retested.

There are a number of reasons that your car may fail its MOT. Some of these include:


What are the most common reasons for a car failing an MOT?

Data from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) shows that the most common MOT failures are due to issues with lights, indicators and other electrical equipment.


MOT UK driving laws

You can legally drive your car until your last MOT runs out, however, police can stop and prosecute you if your car is not roadworthy.

If your MOT has run out, then the only time you can legally drive your car is if you are taking it to be repaired or retested.

If your car is SORN, you can legally drive the vehicle to a pre-booked MOT.


How much does an average MOT cost?

How much is a UK MOT?

Well, the cost of an MOT depends on the type of vehicle.

There are maximum MOT prices, that test centres can charge depending on different vehicle types. 

The Driver & Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) sets the maximum cost that can be charged for vehicle MOTs. You do not pay VAT on the fee.


How much does a car MOT cost?

Wanting to know how much is an MOT for a car?

The MOT costs UK government have set stipulate that MOT tests for cars with up to eight passenger seats can cost £54.85 at most.


How much is an MOT for a motorbike?

The maximum cost for an MOT test for a standard motorbike is £29.65.

If a motorbike also had a side car, the maximum cost for an MOT test increases to £37.80.


Despite there being maximum costs for MOT tests, some MOT test centres charge a lower MOT price than this.


How much is an MOT and service?

As well as being a legal requirement for any vehicle over 3 years of age to have an MOT, your car or motorbike is also recommended a yearly full service.

But just how much will the MOT and service cost be?


How much is an MOT and service for a car?

With a full service for a small car costing around £150, a medium car, about £200, and for a large car around £395. an MOT and service will cost you somewhere between £200 and £450 in total, depending on the size of the vehicle.


How much is an MOT and service for a motorbike?

For an MOT and service for a motorbike, generally expect to pay somewhere between £110 - £210.


Is it cheaper to book your MOT and service at the same time?

Many autocentres will offer promotions if you are to book your car in for an MOT and service at the same time.


MOT costs: Retest charges

Should you need to have your vehicle tested again then you will need to pay to have its second MOT test. However, there are instances when you can get a partial retest for free or a reduced MOT fee.


An MOT partial retest

If you leave your vehicle at the test centre and it is retested within ten working days of the original failure then you only need to get a partial retest and will not incur another fee.

You can also get a partial retest for free if you bring your car back to the same test centre before the end of the next working day and are having specific areas retested.

There is a fairly extensive list of what these areas are. Some examples of what is included are:

  • the battery
  • fuel filler cap
  • electrical wiring
  • steering wheel.

Should you remove your car from the test centre and take it for a retest within ten working days of when you originally failed then you only need to get a partial retest. However, in this instance you may need to pay a fee.


What to do if you're unhappy

Be sure to discuss your failure with the MOT test centre before you get any repairs done.


Can I appeal an MOT failure?

You can appeal against an MOT failure by filling in a VT17 form. This must be received by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) within 14 working days of the test.

The DVSA will then give you an appointment to recheck your vehicle and you will have to repay the MOT test fee. If the appeal is successful then you can get a full or partial refund on the cost of the MOT.


Find out more about MOT’s in our MOT guide: Common questions answered