What is an MOT? – Everything you need to know before you book an MOT

Published August 22, 2022
Categories: Motorbike MOT

What is an MOT?

Once your car is 3 years old, you will need to book an MOT for your car annually. If you’ve never owned a car before and need to learn all the ins and outs of owning a vehicle before booking your first MOT, you’ve come to the right place.

With years of invaluable experience servicing and repairing all manner of vehicles, we know just how important an MOT can be for both your own safety and the safety of other drivers. Below, you’ll find all the MOT info you could need and more to make this annual vehicle safety check an effortless endeavour every year.

An engineer completing an MOT with a clipboard

What does MOT stand for?

Looking for an MOT meaning? While you may have heard the word ‘MOT’ throughout your time as a driver, you may not be aware of what this abbreviation actually stands for. Luckily, we do. MOT simply stands for ‘Ministry of Transport’ and refers to the UK Government department that’s primarily responsible for the English transport network. However, the term ‘MOT’ is widely used to refer to the annual safety test that determines whether a vehicle is safe to be driven and fit for purpose.

Which vehicles need an MOT?

All vehicles (including motorcycles and light good vehicles) require an MOT, apart from a small minority that are exempt. MOT-exempt vehicles include goods vehicles that are powered by electricity and have been registered before March 1st 2015, tractors and some vehicles that can be classed as ‘historic’ or ‘classic’ vehicles.

Furthermore, many vehicles are exempt from needing an MOT until they reach three years of age, however there are some exceptions to this including ambulances, taxis and playbuses – all of which require an MOT after turning one year old. Similarly, lorries, buses and trailers require an ‘annual vehicle test’ instead of an MOT. A full list of MOT-exempt vehicles can be found on the MOT exemption form (V112).

Can I drive without an MOT?

Unless your vehicle is MOT-exempt or you are driving the vehicle to a pre-booked test at an authorised test centre, then you will not be able to drive without a valid MOT. Driving without an MOT is otherwise illegal and can lead to a hefty fine!

What is tested in an MOT?

To ensure the vehicle meets the minimum legal driving standards, a wide range of the components must be checked. Alongside the more essential parts (such as the brakes, steering and wheels), additional components that requiring inspection include the bodywork, mirrors and seats. To give you an idea of what to expect during an MOT, we’ve created a comprehensive list of components that are checking during this safety inspection.


As one of the most crucial components of your vehicle, the brakes are the perfect place to start. During the MOT, the brake discs, callipers, pipes, servo, pads, cables and cylinder should all be checked to ensure the braking system is balanced and can decelerate effectively. The rubber on the brake pedal should also be in good condition, showing no signs of excess wear, while the handbrake should have enough traction to bring the vehicle to a secure stop.


Sharp and dangerous edges can also be found on the bodywork of the vehicle, so it’s vital that the exterior of the vehicle is examined during the MOT. Mechanics will be on the lookout for any excessive rust, corrosion or damage that could pose a safety threat. If a large amount of rust is found within 30-centimetres of crucial components, such as the brakes and steering, the vehicle could fail the MOT.


One of the more straightforward MOT requirements is that all of the doors on the vehicle must be able to be opened from within and outside. Other openings, such as the bonnet and boot, should also be secure when closed.


For vehicles that use fuel to operate (such as diesel or petrol), the exhaust emissions must be measured to ensure they are at an acceptable level for the age of the vehicle. Using specialist equipment, both the type and mount of emissions being released will be measured. Often, the tolerance for newer vehicles is more stringent.


Similarly, the exhaust system and fuel filler cap will also need to be examined during the MOT to ensure there are no leaks.


The horn should not only work, but it should also be loud enough for other drivers to hear clearly. Any horns with ‘novelty’ sounds or horns that play more than one note are also not acceptable.


During an MOT, there are many lights that need to be checked. This includes the vehicle’s headlights, indicators, taillights, hazard lights, side lights, fog lights and brake lights – all of which must be aligned and in full working order.


Drivers need mirrors to ensure a greater scope of vision while in the vehicle. As a result, the mirrors are also examined during an MOT to make sure they are not cracked or damaged to the extent that they impair the driver’s vision.

Seats (including seatbelts)

In all post-1965 vehicles, fixed seats and seatbelts in a good condition are a legal requirement. Even if your vehicle was built before this year, it’s still a highly-recommended addition to ensure safety for both the driver and any passengers.


Another vital component of any vehicle is the steering. At an MOT, the examiner will therefore inspect the condition and security of both the steering wheel and column. Additional steering components including the steering bearings, bolts, clamps, gaiters and universal joints will also be examined to ensure they are performing as expected, while any vehicles with power steering should have this component tested while the engine is running.

Tow bar

While many vehicles won’t have tow bars, those that do, will need to be inspected at the MOT to check the overall condition. Any extensive damage or corrosion to the two bar could pose a substantial safety risk.

Vehicle identification

All vehicles should possess a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Also referred to as the chassis number, this number must be displayed clearly and should also be easy to read. It will either be located on the V5 registration document, at the bottom of the windscreen or under the bonnet.

Wheels and tyres

Just like the brakes and steering, the wheels and tyres are essential to your safety while on the road. During an MOT, the mechanic will therefore have to check that the vehicle has the right number of wheels that are all attached securely using the correct number of bolts. Any cracks or distortion of the rims or wheel bearings will also be examined to assess whether they are in good condition.


Lastly, any chips or cracks in the windscreen can lead to an automatic MOT failure as they can obstruct the driver’s vision. The windscreen (alongside the windscreen wipers) will therefore be examined for any damage during the MOT. The wipers must also be properly secured.

What is the cost of an MOT?

In order to help keep the cost of owning and running a vehicle down, the UK Government has set the maximum amounts that test stations can charge for an MOT. These costs naturally vary depending on the type of vehicle you want to test, but the maximum MOT cost for a car is £54.85 while the maximum cost for a standard motorcycle MOT is just £29.65. To discover which MOT cost will be applicable to your vehicle, we recommend visiting the Government’s MOT costs information page.

Book an MOT at ART Garage

Based in Crewe, we pride ourselves on our old-fashioned values of being reliable, straightforward and honest, ensuring we come highly-recommend by our customers. Regardless of whether your vehicle requires a small repair or complete part replacements, our team of qualified mechanics are on hand to get your beloved vehicle back on the road again for fantastically affordable prices!

To book your MOT at ART Garage Crewe, please don’t hesitate to get in touch today! Simply give us a call on 01270 214 445 to discuss your MOT enquiry or requirements with an experienced member of our team. Alternatively, you can also get in contact online by filling out our convenient contact form.

Once we have your basic contact details and enquiry, we’ll work with you to either answer your MOT query or to find a suitable time and date to complete your vehicle’s MOT. Crucially, we always recommend booking in advance to ensure we have a slot available to get your vehicle checked out by our expert mechanics, so don’t wait to reach out today!

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