A Guide to MOT Tests


Collaboration with Hojol Uddin, Head of Motoring Offences at JMW Solicitors

The MOT test is an annual review carried out by garages to make sure that vehicles over three years old are roadworthy. Vehicles that pass an MOT will be provided with a certificate, and it is illegal to drive a vehicle that does not have an MOT test certificate. JMW’s Hojol Uddin from the Motoring Offences team has outlined what happens during an MOT test and the penalties you could face if you fail to comply with your legal responsibilities. 

What Happens During an MOT Test?

An MOT test checks components of your vehicle. If a vehicle fails an MOT test, it may need repairs before it can be legally driven. Examples of vehicle parts tested during an MOT test include:

● Tyres - your tyres should not be below the minimum tread depth. You can avoid this by regularly checking your tyre tread depth and replacing your tyres when they start to wear down.
● Brakes - if your brakes are not functioning properly, this can lead to a MOT test failure. To avoid this, make sure you have your brakes checked regularly and get them serviced if necessary.
● Lights - if any of your vehicle's lights are not working, you'll need to get these repaired. To avoid this, make sure you check all of your lights regularly and replace any bulbs that have blown.
● Mirrors - your vehicle's mirrors should not be cracked or broken. To avoid this, make sure you check your mirrors regularly and replace them if necessary.
● Seatbelts - if any of your vehicle's seat belts are not working properly, you could fail your MOT. To avoid this, make sure you check your seat belts regularly and get them serviced if necessary.
● Windscreen - if your windscreen is cracked or damaged, you'll need to get this fixed before being allowed back on the road. To avoid this, make sure you have your windscreen checked regularly and replaced if necessary.

An emissions check is also included in the MOT test to determine the vehicle’s exhaust emissions - if they are too high, the vehicle will be deemed illegal to drive. Not all vehicles are required to undergo an emission test; the following vehicle types are exempt:

● Vehicles fewer than four wheels
● Vehicles with two-stroke engines
● Electric, hydrogen-fuelled or hybrid vehicles
● Quadricycles

The vehicle’s engine, gearbox and clutch aren’t tested under a general MOT test and will need to be assessed separately to ensure they are in good condition.

An MOT test certificate alone does not mean your vehicle is completely roadworthy though, and you should perform regular maintenance between MOT tests to ensure it is drivable and safe.

What Happens if I’m Caught Driving Without a Valid MOT?

Being caught driving without a valid MOT test certificate will leave you with a fine of up to £1,000 and your car being added to the DVLA's database of vehicles with no MOT. Initially, a £100 fixed penalty notice will be given, but repeat offences will incur further financial penalties.

An additional fine of up to £2,500 (level 4) will be brought should your vehicle be judged to be in a dangerous condition. This offence could also incur three penalty points on your licence. You could also invalidate your insurance with some providers, meaning you will be liable for third-party vehicle costs if you’re involved in a road traffic accident. If you are stopped by the police while driving to an MOT test appointment, you will need to provide details for the mechanic or garage undertaking the inspection for you.

When you incur a fine due to driving a vehicle that does not have an up-to-date MOT certificate, you should remedy this as soon as possible by paying the fine and booking an MOT test. If you feel you have been unfairly punished, speak to an expert motoring offences solicitor about how you might be able to appeal the decision.

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