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The Ministry of Transport test (usually abbreviated to MOT test) is an annual test of automobile safety, roadworthiness aspects and exhaust emissions required in Great Britain for most vehicles over three years old used on any way defined as a road in the Road Traffic Act 1988; it does not apply only to highways (or in Scotland a relevant road) but includes other places available for public use which are not highways. In Northern Ireland the equivalent requirement applies after four years. The requirement does not apply to vehicles used only on various small islands with no convenient connection "to a road in any part of Great Britain"; no similar exemption is listed at the beginning of 2014 for Northern Ireland.
The name derives from the Ministry of Transport, a defunct Government department which was one of several ancestors of the current Department for Transport, but is still officially used. The MOT test certificates are currently issued in Great Britain under the auspices of the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), an agency within the Department for Transport. Certificates in Northern Ireland are issued by the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). The test and the pass certificate are often referred to simply as the "MOT".
Some 20,100 local car repair garages throughout Great Britain, employing some 53,000 testers are authorised to perform testing and to issue certificates. In principle any individual can apply to run a MOT station although in order to gain an authorisation from VOSA, both the individual wanting to run the station as well as the premises need to meet minimum criteria set out on the governments website within the so-called VT01 form.
The MOT test was first introduced in 1960 under the direction of the Minister of Transport, Ernest Marples. The test was originally a basic test including brakes, lights and steering check which was to be carried out after the vehicle was ten years old and every year thereafter. This became known as the "ten year test", or alternatively the "Ministry of Transport Test". In 1962, the first commercial vehicle exam was created and a valid certificate was required in order to receive a tax disc, and in April 1967 the testable age for an MOT was reduced to three years. On 1 January 1983 the testable age for ambulances, taxis and vehicles with more than eight passenger seats, excluding the driver's, was reduced to one year.
The list of items tested has been continually expanded over the years. Including in 1968 – a tyre check; 1977 – checks of windscreen wipers and washers, direction indicators, brakelights, horns, exhaust system and condition of the body structure and chassis; 1991 – checks of the emissions test for petrol engine vehicles, together with checks on the anti- lock braking system, rear wheel bearings, rear wheel steering (where appropriate) and rear seat belts; 1992 – a stricter tyre tread depth requirement for most vehicles; 1994 – a check of emissions for diesel engine vehicles; 2005 – introduction of a computerised administration system for issuing non-secure test certificates. Also rolled out in 2005 was the creation of the 'Automated Test Bay' this differs from traditional testing by adding additional equipment to the bay to negate the use of an assistant during the test; 2012 – checks of secondary restraint systems, battery and wiring, ESC, speedometers and steering locks.
The test classes are:
All test stations are required to display a "VT9A Fees and Appeals" poster on their premises which must be available to the public. As of 6 April 2010, these are the maximum fees that can be charged. They are not subject to VAT.
|Class||Vehicle Type||Age first test required (years)||Price (06/04/2010 onwards)|
|1||Motorcycles (up to 200cc)||3||£29.65|
|2||Motorcycles (over 200cc)||3||£29.65|
|1 & 2||Motorcycles with side car (any engine size)||3||£37.80|
|4||Cars & light vans||3||£54.85|
|4||Ambulances and taxis||1||£54.85|
|4||Private passenger vehicles & ambulances (9-12 passenger seats)||1||£57.30|
|4a||Includes seat belt installation check||N/A||£64.00|
|5||Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (13-16 passenger seats)||1||£59.55|
|5||Private passenger vehicles and ambulances (More than 16 passenger seats)||1||£80.65|
|5a||Includes seat belt installation check (13-16 passenger seats)||N/A||£80.50|
|5a||Includes seat belt installation check (More than 16 passenger seats)||N/A||£124.50|
|7||Goods vehicles (over 3,000 kg up to 3,500 kg DGW)||3||£58.60|
|n/a||Partial retest fee||Half test fee|
|n/a||Maximum fee for duplicate test certificate (or half the full test fee if less)||£10.00|
The actual designation for the pass certificate is VT20, and failure is the VT30, with any advisories being the VT32. The "MOT" Test will provide an emissions report if applicable.
It is illegal to drive a non-exempt vehicle that requires a test on public roads without a current MOT, except when driving to or from (subject to insurance terms and conditions) a booked MOT Test or to have remedial work done to rectify failures in a previous test. Possession of an up-to-date VT20 test certificate is a pre-requisite for obtaining a tax disc, and advertisements for used cars frequently say how many months are left to run on the current MOT (i.e., VT20 certificate; although the VT20 points out that it does not, in any way, guarantee road-worthiness at the time of sale). A vehicle could suffer major damage after an MOT has been carried out, but the certificate would still be valid, and obtaining a new one is not required by law (some insurance companies may require a new test, but this is their practice, not law). However, driving a vehicle which is in a dangerous condition on a public road is always illegal, irrespective of its test status.
The official UK MOT inspection manuals are available online.
MOT testing centres are regulated and licensed by the Department and Transport and VOSA for the purpose, and the individual testers carrying out the inspections also have to be trained and certified. The decision to pass or fail each presented vehicle comes down to the discretion of the tester following the guidelines issued by the VOSA.
The MOT test covers the following aspects:
The inspection manual can be found here: The full details must by law be provided on request by all garages licensed to perform MOT tests, and are currently published in VOSA's leaflet The MOT Test and You. An MOT pass certificate indicates that at the time of the test the vehicle met or exceeded the minimum safety standards determined by the VOSA guidelines.
An MOT test certificate confirms that at the time of test, the vehicle has met the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards. It does not mean that the vehicle is roadworthy for the life of the certificate. The test does not cover the condition of the engine, clutch or gearbox. Maintenance that is necessary for the reliable and efficient operation of the vehicle but not its safety forms part of a service inspection that is recommended by manufacturers, but is not a legal requirement for operating the vehicle on the public highway.
Items such as the windscreen, wipers and exhaust systems are tested for condition and operation. Windscreen wipers will fail the test if they do not adequately clear the windscreen when used in conjunction with the washers. The exhaust system, in addition to checks on its condition and security, is tested to ascertain whether it is obviously louder than another vehicle of the same make and model with a standard exhaust system fitted. Dismantling of any part of the vehicle during the MOT test is strictly against test regulations, making the assessment of corrosion or worn components in certain areas on certain car models very difficult to determine accurately. As the MOT is only an inspection for road-worthiness at the time of test, the inspection of most accessories is not included. One exception is tow bars: their condition and their attachment to the vehicle is now included in the MOT.
When a vehicle fails the MOT test it can be re-tested within the end of 10 working days to gain a pass. There may be charge payable. If the vehicle remains at the test station for repair after failure then it can have a free partial re-test within 10 working days after the original test has been carried out. If it is removed from the premises for repair and then returned before the end of 10 working days it can have a retest at half the original fee paid. If the failed vehicle is taken away but then brought back to the same test station and retested before the end of the next working day on one or more of the following items only then no fee is charged for a retest:
Bonnet, horn, sharp edges, boot lid, lamps, steering wheel, brake pedal anti-slip, loading door, tailboard, direction indicators, mirrors, tailgate, doors rear reflectors, VIN, drop sides, registration plates, windscreen and glass, fuel filler cap, seat belts, wipers and washers, hazard warning, seats, wheels and tyres.
After the 10-day period a full MOT test will have to be carried out. The full MOT test fee is charged again.
Test stations and the VOSA's (the vehicle and Operator Services Agency) website provide full and up-to-date information regarding MOT re-tests.
The fee for testing and retesting is at the discretion of the proprietor of the test facility, subject to legal maximum prices. The vehicle owner is only subject to one retest per MOT test. If the vehicle fails the MOT retest it is then subject to a full MOT test at the full MOT test fee.
Motorists who recently had a vehicle MOT tested and disagree with the outcome of the inspection are entitled to an appeal against the decision. The appeal must be lodged with the VOSA/DVA within 28 days of the original test date if the item(s) in question is/are mechanical in nature, 3 months are allowed for corrosion issues, except for corrosion of brake discs, brake lines or the exhaust system. Mileage, or the lack thereof, incurred after the inspection has no relevance to the appeal even if the vehicle has not been used for several months after the test.
If the items in question are repaired, replaced or removed from the vehicle, the right of the owner to appeal becomes null and void. Failure because of items easily replaceable, such as tyres or windscreen wiper blades, may not be appealed against, as it cannot be adequately determined if they were the ones fitted at the time of inspection.
To appeal against an MOT pass is free of charge, but appeals against a failure incur a fee whose value would amount to the normal maximum price of an MOT for that vehicle. This fee is then refunded if the appellate inspection finds in favour of the motorist lodging the appeal. If the appellate inspection finds the vehicle was incorrectly diagnosed, the VOSA/DVA takes appropriate action against the station involved. This can range from penalty points being issued for minor infringements, to the station's MOT licence being rescinded for more major violations.
The VOSA/DVA has only the power to discipline the station involved and cannot pursue compensation of any kind for the complainant; that is the responsibility of Trading Standards. An MOT station cannot be held responsible for defects that occur to the vehicle several months after the test was conducted. The appeal process is outlined on the reverse of the VT20 pass certificate and the VT30 failure notice.
It is a common misconception that the MOT inspection provides an irrefutable record of a vehicle's mileage. However, although the mileage is recorded during the test, no part of the inspection requires the test station to verify that this is indeed the actual mileage. It is merely recorded, and any tampering of an odometer would not be discovered as part of the MOT inspection.
In 2012 the MOT test was radically overhauled with many items not previously included in the test now becoming standard. It also saw the introduction of 'receipt style' plain paper certificates that serve as a notification that a 'pass' entry has been recorded on the VOSA database. The MOT test number contained on the certificate gives access to the vehicle's current test status as well as its entire test history, via the VOSA web site.
From 18 November, the MOT certificate shows the vehicle's recent mileage history. This has been introduced as part of a government initiative to reduce vehicle crime. Where available, the mileage history will comprise the readings associated with the three most recent VT20s (test passes) along with the date of those readings.