The Mot Test Explained In Detail

The Most Common MOT Test And Car Service Debate Aren’t as Black and White as You Might Think. It’s one of the longest-running motoring debates, spanning decades. Should you take your car for an MOT Stockport or service? And does it matter if you don’t?

The debate isn’t new, but it continues to rumble on every time a news story crops up about someone being killed in their car due to a faulty heating fan, immobiliser, or even door latch.

There seems to be some confusion over what exactly needs doing for the annual test and whether anything serious could happen if you ignore it. Here we tackle some of the more common questions on this topic. 

The truth is that even cars that don’t display any warning lights can sometimes still benefit from having their oil checked at each service interval because you can never be sure if it’s been checked or if the correct grade of oil is being used. A Car Service history from the manufacturer can often prove more beneficial than having an MOT test because it shows that regular maintenance has been carried out, which in turn means the car should have far fewer problems and last longer. It may sound like a contradiction but you don’t need to go through the MOT process every year without fail to ensure your vehicle lasts a long time. 

So read on and discover what the experts say about whether your wheels need an MOT or service.

Is It All About The Emissions Test?

It’s not just an emissions check; it’s a roadworthiness certificate that verifies your car is fit to be on the road. The government introduced compulsory MOTs for cars in 1960 as part of its campaign to cut down on deaths and injuries from road accidents, which at the time were around 10,000 per year. During this era, seat belts became mandatory, and drink-driving limits were set (although they weren’t consistently enforced). This safety drive saw death rates fall below 2,500 by 2014. Let’s hope we don’t have another ‘road safety’ crackdown any time soon!

Is There A Risk If You Miss Your Mot?

There’s a risk, but we don’t want to be scaremongers. Your car could fail its MOT, and you’ll need to get it fixed (or scrap the car), but the actual risk is small. In 2015, over 2.5 million cars went through MOTs, and 5% failed – that’s 130,000 cars sent off the road for remedial work straight away. However, this figure has been hovering around 5-6% since 2010 and will likely fall as older cars are phased out of service and newer cars better reflect modern manufacturing standards.

What Exactly Does An Mot Test Do?

It checks that all four wheels are secure; there’s enough tread depth left on your tyres; the brakes operate properly; the headlights are working properly; there are no warning lights on the dashboard; and, of course, that your vehicle’s emissions levels are within legal limits. The last bit is particularly relevant to diesel drivers, who must keep their car below a certain level of particulates or face a fine.

What Does It Cost?

The average cost is £54 if you use an authorised test centre. There’s also currently a flat rate MOT fee in West Berkshire of £51.30, which covers both cars and light commercial vehicles up until 6 pm. That beats national averages by some margin at present! From 6 pm onwards the charge rises to around £71 for commercial vehicles only. It varies per garage BUT most will give you time to drop the car off before 6 pm.

If your car fails its MOT, you’ll be given an advisory note for what needs fixing. If you take it to a garage and get it fixed, they can apply to have the test rescheduled (that’s free of charge) so long as the work is done within 10 days of the failed test or 30 days if parts need ordering. 

You don’t automatically lose your money; you get ONE opportunity to rebook without paying (although at this point most people will need their vehicles getting on). After that, it’s £21.40 for retesting or £26.80 including VAT. The latter fee applies even if your car passes on the first attempt after repairs are made.

How Often Do I Need An Mot?

In short, every 12 months. There’s no legal requirement to have one at any point in between but you can’t usually tax (also known as ‘register’) a car without it passing its first MOT. If your car is over three years old and passes the test, you’ll get a ‘bonnet sticker’ – this effectively proves that your vehicle has passed the test and should be good for another year. The rules are different if you’re registering a newly-built car; it must pass its first MOT within four years of registration. 

This date will be stamped on both your V5c and your MOT records sheet or certificate. The wording varies slightly depending on the type of car (electric, petrol, diesel etc) but it all means the same thing. You can find out more on this here

In theory, if your car is less than a year old and had its first MOT before you bought it, there’s no legal requirement to get it tested again for another two years. In practice, we’d recommend going every 12 months as there’s a good chance the previous owner may have missed work carried out on the vehicle – particularly servicing items that were fixed under warranty.

Over the last five years, around 15% of cars that failed first had previously passed, indicating that they could have been repaired incorrectly or even tampered with by dishonest mechanics. An example from 2015 saw a 2011 Volkswagen Golf Plus start spewing smoke from its exhaust pipe during testing – enough so that one official thought it might catch fire! It was repaired the month before and passed easily. In this case, it seems as though somebody had removed an engine-related warning light from the car’s dashboard – a common ploy by dishonest mechanics to hide problems on a test run Car Service Stockport.

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