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The MOT test

Dangerous and major defects

'Dangerous' and 'major' defects will cause the MOT to fail. Dangerous faults are automatically deemed to post an 'immediate risk to road safety' and cannot be driven on the road until it's been fixed. No functioning brake lights are the most common, but preventable, MOT 'dangerous' or 'major' defect

Minor defects

Advisories are being replaced with minor fails. These are all pre-written & approved by DVSA. You will still get a pass, but they will be noted on your test certificate.

Some significant changes to be aware of that can affect your vehicle and your annual MOT:
  • It has always been an offence to fit HID bulbs to halogen headlamps. The MOT is now in line with this, and HID's will get a significant defect that constitutes a failure.
  • Reverse lights are now part of the MOT for any cars registered from 1st September 2009 (59 plates onwards). Daytime running lamps and front fog lamps must work on vehicles registered from March 2018 (18 plate onwards).
  • If the Engine Management Light is on, this is now a major fail. It must come on with the ignition and then turn off when the engine has started.
  • Brake pad warning lights are now classified as a major fail.
  • Handbrakes with excessive travel are now a significant defect that will constitute a failure.
  • Oil leaks are a significant defect that constitutes a failure if they are deemed large enough.
  • Any modifications/removals to emission-related devices are significant failures.
  • A fitted vehicle fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter that emits visible smoke during the metered test will fail.
  • Emission limits for Diesel registered on or after the 1st of January 2014 have been reduced.
MOT Test Checklist
  • Checking your vehicle before your MOT test can help to ensure your vehicle does not encounter a fail. In addition, if you find any problems in the following areas, you can fix them yourself to help keep costs down.
  • Headlights and indicators: which includes the front & rear headlights, (the main beam and dipped), hazard lights and indicators. If they aren't working, first check for broken bulbs and replace them.
  • Brake lights: ask another person to check the rear brake lights come on when you press the brake pedal.
  • Tyres: check all the tyres have at least the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm. If they are below this, they will be marked as a MOT 'fail'. You can easily do this with a 20p coin. Check for any damage such as splits in the tread, bulges or cuts in the sidewalls. Check and adjust the tyre pressure if necessary.
  • The handbrake: check the tension in your handbrake. If it slides up and down without resistance and can't be ratcheted to a set level, there's likely to be a problem that needs fixing by a professional mechanic.
  • Seats and seat belts: check the driver's seat adjusts forwards and backwards, and inspect the seatbelt's entire length for any damage. Also, check all the seatbelts latch and fasten securely and that they lock when you give them a sharp tug.
  • Windscreen: any damage wider than 10mm in the driver's central view will cause a MOT fail, as will any damage larger than 40mm in the whole of the swept area.
  • Windscreen wipers: make sure your wipers clean your windscreen effectively along with the washers. Any tears or holes in the wiper rubber can mean an MOT fail.
  • Suspension check: check the shock absorbers by applying your weight to each corner of the car then quickly releasing it; the corner of the vehicle should promptly return to its original position. If it bounces more than twice, this could mean the shock absorbers are faulty and need to be checked.
  • Horn: give a short blast of the horn & if it doesn't work or isn't loud enough to attract the attention of pedestrians or other motorists, it will need to be repaired.
  • Exhaust: check for exhaust leaks by starting the engine in a well-ventilated space at standard temperature and then listen to the rear of the car for any unusual noises or abnormal smoke.
  • Fuel and engine oil: make sure your car is filled with enough fuel and engine oil; you can be turned away from the MOT if there isn't enough property to test your car's emissions clearly.

When will my car need its MOT?

Most vehicles need a MOT check and a new certificate every year once they're three years old. Visit to find out when your car needs its next test.

What is the earliest date I can get a MOT?

You can get a MOT for your vehicle up to a month (minus a day) before the MOT expires. You can find out when your MOT is due by following the link above or by looking at your previous MOT certificate.

How long does a MOT test take?

A MOT test takes approximately one hour, but this could take longer if any repairs are needed to be carried out. Please ensure you arrive 10 minutes before your MOT due to take place and leave your car with us until convenient for you to collect.

What does a car MOT check?

A MOT covers a wide variety of checks to ensure your vehicle is safe and meets environmental standards.

How can I make sure my car passes its MOT?

Some of the most common MOT failures are small and preventable such as:

  • Windscreen - is the driver's windscreen damaged and check all wipers working.
  • Lights - are all lights fully working
  • Tyres - check tyre pressure and tread depth

Before you have your MOT and bring your car into our centre, you should carry out a few simple checks. This could save you time and money if you have to have a retest.

What should I bring with me to the MOT?

No documentation is required if your car has previously had a MOT or has not changed the registration plate. However, if this is the car's first MOT, you will need to bring a V5C certificate with you. This will also be required if your vehicle has changed the registration plate since its last MOT.

What happens if my car fails its MOT?

In the case of your vehicle failing its MOT, your car is deemed as 'unroadworthy'. The necessary repairs must be carried out before the vehicle is retested. Please be aware that without a valid MOT certificate your car is illegal to drive.

Do I have to pay a MOT retest fee?

If repairs are carried out at the same test centre on the same day or the following day at another test centre, we'll carry out a free MOT retest. If your car leaves our test centre and is returned to the exact centre the next working day, you won't have to pay a re-test fee. If the car returns within ten working days, you will have to pay a partial MOT retest fee. In all other cases, the charge for a retest is the same as a full test.

Can I appeal if my car fails its MOT?

To appeal against a MOT failure, you will require a VT17 form from the MOT test centre. If your appeal is successful, you will receive part of your MOT test fee back. In the meantime, you should not have any repairs carried out on your vehicle, as this could affect your appeal.

All MOT tests are recorded; if a vehicle passes a VT20 pass certificate is issued, this will last for one year. If a car fails a MOT, a VT30 failure document is issued.

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