What is the MOT test?

Currently in the UK, all cars over three years old must legally have an MOT test carried out every year by an approved testing centre.

The test checks the technical elements of your vehicle to make sure it’s safe to drive and detects toxic emissions that could harm the environment.

The MOT test covers the following aspects:

– exhaust and emissions
– steering
– bonnet catch
– number plate
– brakes
– mirrors
– seats
– fuel system

– seat belts
– windscreen
– horn
– lights
– tyres and wheels
– doors
– suspension
– body and structure


As from May 2018 MOT tests will no longer be a black and white case of pass or fail.

Instead every fault found during the test will be categorised as dangerous, major or minor.
The design of the MOT certificate has also changed; it lists any defects under the new categories so they are clear and easy to understand.

Dangerous: cars that fall into this category are deemed an immediate risk to road safety or have a serious impact on the environment. They will be subject to an automatic fail and should not be driven until the vehicle has been repaired.
(Examples – a tyre with the ply/cords exposed or a tyre tread depth below the legal requirements of 1.6mm).

Major: cars with major defects will automatically fail the MOT and should be repaired immediately.
(Examples – headlamp not working on dipped beam or a coil spring broken on the suspension).

Minor: cars with minor defects will be allowed to pass and the faults will be recorded so you can get them repaired at a later date.
(Examples – brake fluid level is below the minimum mark or a registration plate lamp is inoperative).

Advisories: MOT testers will continue to give advice about items you need to monitor.
(Examples – wiper blade split or an oil leak but not excessive).

In addition to the current checks, some new items are tested during the MOT.
They include checking:
If tyres are obviously under inflated, if the brake fluid has been contaminated, for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk, brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing, reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they are fitted), headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they are fitted), daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old).

Also there are stricter limits for emissions from diesel cars with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). A DPF captures and stores exhaust soot to reduce emissions from diesel cars. If you don’t know if your car has a DPF you can check your car’s handbook. Your car will get a major fault if the MOT tester:
can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust
finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

If you car does fails its MOT, then once the repairs have been completed it will need to be retested.
Re-tests are free at Barnstaple Autocare providing the retest is carried out within 10 working days and we were the original MOT testing centre.
In all other circumstances the retest fee is the same rate as the full MOT test.

There are two ways to get a replacement MOT test certificate.

1. You can get a replacement MOT certificate online if you have lost or damaged the original. Just go to the www.gov.uk website here where you can view, print and save any MOT certificate issued after 20 May 2018. The service is free but you will need the vehicle’s registration number and the 11-digit reference number from the vehicle’s V5C (also known as the logbook).

2. You can go to any MOT approved testing station and give them your vehicle’s registration number and the V5C reference number. The fee for this is £10.