About the MOT
The first test is required once a vehicle is three years old. There are different rules if you use it as a taxi. When your vehicle is tested, the MOT looks at some important items to see if it meets the legal requirements. You should be aware that the MOT certificate is not a guarantee of the general mechanical condition of a vehicle.
When your vehicle needs testing
If a vehicle is registered with no prior use on the road, the MOT will be required three years after the date of registration. For example, a vehicle registered from new on 1 April 2004 will require its MOT no later than 1 April 2007.
If a vehicle is used prior to registration, as would be the case with an import, the MOT will be required three years from the end of the year of manufacture. For example a vehicle manufactured at any time in 2004 will require an MOT no later than 31 December 2007. There is no grace period given after these dates.
An MOT can be carried out at any time
If the vehicle is tested within the calendar month prior to when 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 2007, and the vehicle was presented on or after 2 March 2007, the certificate would run from the test date until 1 April 2008.
The same rule would also apply when the vehicle is 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.
What does a garage look at during an MOT test?
Components tested during your MOT test:
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 4-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
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