MOTs are a legal requirement. They're also a big expense for motorists.
To help with the cost of motoring, the government is considering testing vehicles every 2 years. MOTs for new vehicles could also start at 4 years rather than 3.
If your MOT is due, our MOT checklist can help get your car ready to pass. We'll also cover the new MOT rules and whether you can drive your car after a failed MOT.
What are the new MOT rules in 2023?
The government is considering changing the frequency of MOT tests from yearly to every other year.
There are changes for new vehicles too. Currently, new vehicles need to get an MOT after 3 years. But in the future, new vehicles might not need an MOT for 4 years.
The MOT changes apply to cars, motorbikes and vans.
The government says that the changes to MOTs reflect the improvements to vehicle safety, for example automatic lane keeping systems (ALKs).
This might cause some safety concerns for motorists. But government analysis revealed that new vehicles usually pass their MOT in the first 3 years. And that there are low numbers of casualties in collisions in the UK due to vehicle defects.
It’s standard practice to test new vehicles at 4 years in countries like:
Most drivers will likely be happy that they could save money with less frequent MOTs. The average MOT costs £40, so the new changes could save motorists across the UK £100 million a year.
But it’s important to make sure you’re still getting regular services and not ignoring problems with your vehicle. This should also mean you have less problems when you do get an MOT.
Our car insurance expert Louise Thomas comments:
“Motoring costs have a huge part to play in the increased cost of living at the moment. So drivers will be pleased to hear of these potential changes to MOT rules, which could lighten the strain on their pockets.
“But our research reveals that nearly 1 in 4 (24%)* are willing to sacrifice a vehicle service to save a bit of money. It’s important that drivers don't skip services when they need them. This will be especially important if MOT services extend from yearly to every other year.
“If you're worried about a problem with your car, have it serviced as soon as you can. That way, you're less likely to face problems and higher costs when your MOT comes around. If you're unsure about whether your vehicle might need checking, our guide on car servicing can help.”
The government is also looking at how MOTs could help monitor emissions. This should reduce pollution and strengthen the environmental efficiency of vehicles.
One of the new measures could include testing pollutants like NOx. This should ensure that diesel, petrol and hybrid cars always meet emission requirements during their lifespan.
The government is also consulting on:
- Electric vehicle batteries and whether they should be tested to improve their safety and reliability
- More plans to deal with excessively noisy vehicles
- How the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) can stop MOT and mileage fraud
The public consultation launched on 18 January 2023 to seek views on the new MOT rule changes.
What does an MOT check?
When you take your car for an MOT, a mechanic will usually check these areas:
Vehicle identification number (VIN)
Steering and suspension
Wipers and washers
Seat belts and seats
Wheels and tyres
Often a car fails its MOT test because of a simple fault that's easily solved. In fact, the most common MOT failures are:
Lights and signals
Problems affecting view of the road
How do I know when my MOT is due?
If you're not sure when your MOT is due, you can check it with our MOT status tool. Or use our Confused.com app, where you can also check your vehicle tax date and set reminders.
Always make sure you use a trustworthy mechanic - if you’re not sure where to go, ask friends and family for recommendations.
Driving without a valid MOT is not only illegal, but could invalidate your car insurance policy.
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Pre-MOT checklist UK
Prepare for your car’s next health check with our pre-MOT checklist:
Check all lights are working correctly. This includes:
If you've any bulbs that have blown, check your car’s manual to see if you can replace them yourself.
Check that all warning lights on your dashboard are working too.
2. Vehicle body and tyres
Take a look at the petrol inlet filler cap. The petrol inlet is where the fuel goes, and the filler cap is what you screw onto it. Look out for any damage to the seal around the cap.
Check if the horn works. It should be loud and clear.
Test the brakes, handbrake and steering wheel. The steering wheel shouldn’t feel loose, and the handbrake shouldn’t pull up too high.
Check all tyres are the correct pressure. Also, check if the tyre tread depth is at least 1.6mm – the legal limit.
3. Windows and mirrors
Nothing should obstruct your view of the road. Check wiper blades for damage. If they're worn, you can replace them yourself using your vehicle handbook for reference.
Remove sat nav cradles, stickers and air fresheners if they block your view.
Mirrors should be secure and intact.
4. Cleaning your car
Registration plates must be readable and in good condition.
The car should be presentable, inside and out. If your car is dirty and full of clutter the tester can refuse to carry out the inspection.
The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should match the VIN in your car’s log book.
6. Fluid levels
Check that your screen wash, brake fluid and oil are at suitable levels. If not, top them up.
What happens after the MOT test?
After your MOT test, your mechanic should contact you to tell you the results. These will either be:
Pass with advisories
Pass with minor faults
Fail with major or dangerous faults
What happens if my car fails its MOT?
If your car fails its MOT with major or dangerous faults, you have to get each problem fixed and book another MOT. This MOT, however, only tests the areas that your car failed in last time. You can book a retest within 10 days, giving you plenty of time to arrange repair work.
The MOT test can also identify other, less immediate problems. These appear as ‘minor faults’ on your certificate.
Minor faults aren’t yet serious enough to cause your car to fail its MOT. For example, if you have worn tyres, but they're not worn below the legal limit.
MOTs can be expensive, so it might be more cost effective to get the minor faults sorted a month or so after the initial test.
That way the faults don’t develop and put you in danger. You stand a better chance of passing it the following year too.
Some garages might also give your car advisories. These don’t need fixing as urgently as minor faults and won’t cause your car to fail its MOT. If you have advisories you should monitor them and get them repaired if necessary.
Can I drive my car if it fails its MOT?
If your MOT comes back with dangerous faults you're not allowed to drive it until repairs have been carried out. Major faults should be repaired as soon as possible.
You should be able to drive your car if it has advisory faults. These are recommendations made by the garage that should be repaired at some point.
If you’re caught driving a car that’s unroadworthy you could:
- Be given a fine of up to £2,500
- Get points on your licence
- Get a driving ban
Having a motoring conviction like is is also likely to increase your car insurance costs.
How long after my MOT expires can I drive?
There's no grace period if your MOT has expired. As soon as your MOT has expired, you’re not legally allowed to drive your car.
The only time you’re able to drive your car is to a pre-booked MOT appointment.
This is why it’s important to be organised, and make sure you know when your current MOT is due to expire. That way you can get your car booked in for its next one in good time.
What happens when I pass my MOT?
Your garage gives you an MOT test certificate and you’re legal to drive off. Hurrah!
Your test centre sends the results to a central database.
Check-ups and servicing are great for keeping your car healthy, so it's wise to keep them up. That way you stand a better chance of passing your MOT, and spread out the cost of repairs.
*Unless otherwise stated, all figures taken from omnibus research carried out by One Poll on behalf of Confused.com. This was an online poll of 2,000 UK drivers. The research was conducted between 25 May 2022 and 30 May 2022.