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MOT Guide

(information available at

  • Vehicle identification number - a vehicle identification number must be permanently displayed and legible on a vehicle first used on or after 1 August 1980
  • Registration plate - condition, security, legibility and format of letters/numbers
  • Lights - condition, operation, security and correct colour. The headlamps will also be checked to see if the aim is correct
  • Steering and suspension - correct condition and operation
  • Wipers and washers - operate to give the driver a clear view of the road
  • Windscreen - condition and drivers view of the road
  • Horn - correct operation and type
  • Seatbelts - all seatbelts installed are checked for type, condition, operation and security. All compulsory seatbelts must be in place
  • Seats - front seats secure. Front and rear backseats can be secured in the upright position
  • Fuel system - no leaks, fuel cap fastens correctly and seals securely. The fuel cap will need to be opened. Make sure the key is available
  • Exhaust emissions - vehicle meets the requirement for exhaust emission. These vary on the age and fuel type of the vehicle
  • Exhaust system - complete, secure, without serious leaks and silences effectively
  • Vehicle structure - free from excessive corrosion or damage in specific areas. No sharp edges
  • Doors - open and close. Latch securely in closed position. Front doors should open from inside and outside the vehicle. Rear doors may need to be opened to gain access to testable items
  • Mirrors - presence, condition and security
  • Wheels and tyres - condition, security, tyre size and type, and tread depth. Spare tyres are not tested
  • Brakes - condition, operation and performance (efficiency test). Suitable vehicles will be tested on a roller brake tester. Vehicles such as those with permanent four-wheel drive will be tested either on a suitable road using a properly calibrated and maintained decelerometer or, if one is installed at the test station, a plate brake tester
  • Lights - condition, operation, security, and correct colour of headlamp(s), rear lights, indicators and reflectors. Also the headlamp(s) will be checked to see if the aim is correct
  • Steering and suspension - condition, security and operation including: forks, mountings, controls, bearings, etc
  • Horn - correct operation and the right type
  • Exhaust system - complete, secure, correct type and not too noisy
  • Side car - includes checks on: attachment, suspension, wheel bearings, wheel alignment, lights and tyres
  • Wheel alignment - correct alignment of front and rear wheels
  • Frame - free from cracks, damage, distortion or corrosion which is likely to affect steering or brakes
  • Wheels and tyres - wheel condition and security, tyre condition, size and type, and tread depth
  • Brakes - condition, operation and performance (efficiency test),and brake controls
  • General items - condition and security of final drive, footrests and seat
Vehicles adapted with hand controls
Any hand controls fitted to a vehicle will not normally be tested during a standard MOT unless they are the only means of control. Hand controls should be regularly maintained and checked by a reputable garage, the hand control manufacturer or the adaptation specialist.
Tinted windows
Tinted windows are not included in the MOT test, but the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) carries out roadside checks to make sure tinted windows follow the Road Vehicle (Construction & Use) Regulations. These specify the minimum levels of light that must pass through the windscreen and front side windows.
Road Vehicles (Construction & Use) Regulations 1986 as amended specify the minimum levels of light that must pass through the windscreen and front side windows. The limits are:

Motor Vehicles first used before 1 April 1985:
The windscreen and front side windows must allow at least 70% of
light to be transmitted through them.

Motor Vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1985:
The light transmitted through the windscreen must be at least 75%. The front side windows must allow at least 70% of light to be transmitted through them. If the glass is tinted to a point whereby it lets through less light, then the vehicle does not meet legal requirements.
This applies to the windscreen and the front side windows either side of the driver’s head. Excessively tinted road glass restricts the driver’s vision, especially in dark conditions. This may prevent drivers from seeing other road users or pedestrians. It also prevents other road users and pedestrians from confirming through eye contact that they have been seen.
You must not drive a vehicle on the road with the windscreen or front side windows excessively tinted. You may also invalidate your insurance with this modification, particularly as the vehicle is likely to be illegal.
A tinting company must not modify, or offer to supply, a part that when fitted
to a vehicle means that it does not comply with Construction & Use Regulations.

Why is tinting not included in the MOT?
Excessively tinted glass is seen as a serious issue, but one which currently affects only a small number of the 24 million vehicles tested annually. To include this item in the MOT test would require all 18,000 garages to incur expenditure on special test equipment and the time taken to carry out an MOT would increase. The MOT fee would have to be raised to cover the extra time and investment.
This extra cost would affect all motorists - all for a small number of vehicles. With the current levels of offending, roadside enforcement is a better route as it targets the offenders while minimising the cost and inconvenience to compliant road users.

The MOT certificate confirms that at the time of the test the vehicle met, as far as can be reasonably determined without dismantling, the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards required by law. It does not mean that the vehicle is roadworthy for the life of the certificate and is not a substitute for regular maintenance.
Recent changes
Records of test results are now held on a secure central database. All MOT testing stations are connected to this central database. When a vehicle is tested the record is entered onto the database and the vehicle owner receives an A4 certificate.
The certificate
The MOT certificate shows the information that is held on the MOT database. The certificate is no longer proof of an MOT and should not be relied on as such. Only the computer record can prove a vehicle has a valid MOT. Under the new system any recommended advisory work will normally be shown on an Advisory Notice which will is presented at the time of the test. For details of how to check the MOT database, click on the link below:
Why do you need an MOT certificate?
The MOT Certificate is required when applying for a new Vehicle Excise Licence (vehicle tax disc) at a Post Office (unless the vehicle is not subject to MOT testing because of its age or type). With a new (A4) MOT certificate it is possible to relicense a vehicle online. More information on this service is available at the following link:


Police officers are also entitled to ask for production of an MOT test certificate for a vehicle which is required to have one.
A test certificate relates only to the condition of testable items at the time of the test and should not be regarded as:
  • Evidence of their condition at any other time
  • Evidence of the general mechanical condition of the vehicle
  • Evidence that the vehicle fully complies with all aspects of the law on vehicle construction and use
Replacing lost or damaged certificates

For new style test certificates (A4 size). A duplicate can be obtained from any MOT testing station that has been 'computerised' .
For old style certificate (A5 size). If you know where and approximately when the vehicle was tested, you can obtain a duplicate test certificate from the MOT test station which tested the vehicle.
If you do not know where the car was tested originally, you cannot obtain a duplicate certificate. The car will need to be tested again.
If the test station has closed down, the local Vehicle and Operator Services Agency office should be able to help. You can find your nearest address through one of the contact options on the link below:
The maximum fee for a duplicate certificate for a car is £10.00.
MOT computerisation
VOSA sees the benefits of computerisation as follows:
Improved testing standards by:
  • providing accurate, up-to-date information for the MOT testing stations
  • collecting better information
  • monitoring test standards more closely
  • improving the quality of MOT documents
Reduced theft and fraud associated with MOT certificates by:
  • closer monitoring
  • tighter control of certificates
  • reducing dependence on paper certificates
Improved administration by:
  • passing information to and from garages electronically
  • automatically collecting and updating information
  • providing electronic ordering and payment systems
  • improving the way records are kept
Improved consumer protection and confidence in the MOT test by:
  • ensuring more consistent standards
  • enabling the general public to check if a vehicle passed or failed an MOT
  • improving protection and making it easier to detect fraud
For motorists the main feature of the new system is the ability to check the MOT status of any vehicle that you own, or are considering buying. This can be done either by calling the MOT Status Lineon 0870 330 0444or visiting the link below:
If you are buying a second hand vehicle, and want to check its MOT status you will need the registration mark of the vehicle and either the test number from the new style MOT test certificate or the document reference number from the V5C registration certificate.
The system will provide you with certain key information including; make, model and colour of the vehicle together with the MOT status and expiry date of the valid MOT.
The vehicle's mileage recorded at the time of the MOT test will also be disclosed when you make your enquiry.
In addition to MOT status, the facility to check the MOT history of the vehicle is also available. It provides full test details for all the tests undertaken on the vehicle since the system was computerised. Information relating to any advisory items recorded at the time of an MOT test together with the mileages recorded at each Computerised MOT test is also available as part of this service. It is hoped this service will encourage motorists to obtain the test history of vehicles before buying so they can make a more informed decision on the suitability of the vehicle.

An MOT can be carried out at any time
If the vehicle is presented for test within the calendar month prior to the date that the MOT is due, the test certificate will run from the date of the test to one year after the expiry date of the current certificate. For example, if the current certificate was due to expire on 1 April 2003, and the vehicle was presented on or after 2 March 2003, the certificate would run from the test date until 1 April 2004.
To have this extension, the vehicle owner should present their old certificate to the test station to verify that the extra time is applicable.
The same rule would also apply if the vehicle was taken in within a calendar month of its first MOT. In this case, the vehicle owner would need to present their registration document.
If the vehicle is tested earlier than one month before its due date, the MOT will only run for twelve months.

In 1960, in response to the large number of old vehicles on the road of questionable roadworthiness, Minister of Transport Ernest Marples introduced ten year testing on items such as brakes, lights and steering. This Ministry of Transport of Test quickly became known as the MOT and ten years was progressively reduced to three years by April 1967.
Over the years it has become progressively more comprehensive, taking in amongst other things, exhaust emissions. It is likely to continue evolving as other requirements are taken into consideration.
Minimum standards are now set by EU Directives, although member states can set more stringent criteria if they wish.
VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) – an executive agency of the Department of Transport – is now responsible for MOT Testing and the general quality of testing. MOT Testing Stations must use only approved equipment and tests must be carried out to standards laid down by the DTp. Performance is monitored by Vehicle Examiners working for VOSA.
There are currently over 18,000 Test Stations which are identified by the familiar three white interlocking triangles and blue background sign.
Every vehicle over three years has now been tested under the computerised system which means the public can check a car’s post-computerisation history on the VOSA website (www.vosa.gov.uk).