What do I need to know about car MOT checks?

As a first time driver, owning your own car is exciting. Getting behind the wheel affords you full freedom and independence, but it’s important to make sure you’re looking after your car as best you can. One way of ensuring that your vehicle meets legal safety standards is an MOT test. But what exactly is an MOT check? How often do you need an MOT? And how much should an MOT cost?

What is a car MOT check?

In the UK, an MOT is a compulsory mechanical safety and emissions test required for all car owners. Simply put, it ensures your car is safe to be on the road. But how often do you need an MOT? If you’re lucky enough to own a brand new car, an MOT test isn’t required for the first three years of driving. As a first time driver, it’s more likely that you’ll be driving a pre-owned car over three years old, which means you will need to get an MOT before the anniversary of its last test.

What does a car MOT check involve?

As a first time driver, you may not know what an MOT test involves, and which parts of your car are checked. Once your vehicle has been dropped off at your chosen MOT centre, it will be checked for:

• Body work – checking for damage or car modifications that could potentially cause injury

• Fuel system – ensuring there are no leaks and that all pipes and fuel caps are in good condition

• Exhaust system and emissions – checking whether the vehicle meets emission requirements and that the exhaust system is safe

• Seats and seat belts – making sure that seat belts are operational and that seats can be adjusted

• Doors – ensuring that all door hinges work and can be opened from both the inside and outside

• Tyres and wheels – tyres will be checked for tears, lumps and bulges, along with tyre exposure. 10% of MOT faults are related to tyre treads, so keep an eye on them!

• Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment – front, rear, brake, fog, indicator, registration plate lights and rear reflectors must be in good working order

• Window wipers and washers – failing to ensure your vision is not impaired by a smudgy window results in 6.6% of MOTs not being passed

How much does an MOT cost?

MOT and service prices vary depending on both the test station you have chosen and the type of vehicle you drive. For a car MOT, the maximum fee is £54.85, but this price may be lower depending on your engine size. The average cost of an MOT for a car is around £35, but it’s important to do your research and check reviews of your chosen service centre beforehand.

Found a service centre that will provide an MOT for a tenner? Be careful - they may not be reliable and could miss something important that could put you in danger.

What happens after an MOT? Are there MOT charges for repairs?

If your vehicle passes its MOT, it will be recorded in the database and you will be sent an MOT certificate from the test centre. As part of this, you may receive a list of ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ problems that have been identified, but these are usually cheap and easy to fix.

If your car has problems that are ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’, it will fail the MOT test and you won’t be able to drive until they are fixed. If this happens, you will be given a refusal or MOT test failure notice (also known as a VT30) and your vehicle will need to be retested to comply with MOT standards. Your VT30 will include why your car failed the MOT test, and what needs to be fixed in order for it to pass. If your car can be tested, repaired and retested within 10 working days, there will be no additional MOT charges.

Young driver car insurance<

MOTs aren’t the only thing needed to make sure your car is road-legal – it also needs some car insurance to keep it covered. If you’re a newly qualified driver, it pays to be prepared so that you know what to do in the event of a vehicle-related problem. Find out more about young driver car insurance.