How long does an MOT take?

    On average, an MOT test takes about 45 minutes to an hour. However, timing can vary based on car make and model, condition, and if repairs are needed. Additional time may be required if your car fails the initial test and requires retesting after necessary adjustments. 

    In England, Scotland, and Wales, every vehicle over three years old must pass a yearly MOT test to be able to legally drive on the road. Run by the Ministry of Transport, the MOT assessment checks vehicles’ safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions to make sure they meet the minimum standards laid out by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Authority.

    Driving without a valid MOT certificate could mean risking a fine, points on your licence, or even a driving ban. Missing an MOT can also have a big impact on the price when you’re buying or selling a vehicle.

    Motorway advises scheduling your MOT well in advance to allow for any unforeseen delays.

    What is the MOT test?

    An MOT test is a legal requirement to drive your car on UK roads.

    The Ministry of Transport requires all cars over three years old in England, Scotland, and Wales to be tested according to mandatory safety and environmental standards. This annual test is a legal requirement to drive on UK roads. In Northern Ireland, cars over four years old must be MOT tested annually.

    The MOT assessment evaluates the functionality of crucial car components and checks if your vehicle’s emissions abide by existing standards. An MOT certificate verifies that your vehicle has passed all required safety examinations and is ‘road safe.’  

    MOT testing is a fundamental aspect of responsible vehicle ownership. Beyond meeting statutory requirements, an MOT examination ensures your car’s safety, minimising the risk of breakdowns and accidents. 

    Without an MOT certificate, your car cannot be taxed and is therefore illegally on the road. If you are stopped by the authorities driving a vehicle that has no MOT certificate, you can be fined up to £1,000 and receive points on your licence. 

    Additionally, a valid MOT certificate is often necessary for insurance coverage. See our ultimate guide to the MOT for more information.

    Average MOT test time

    Conducted by an authorised MOT test centre, an MOT test typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour. However, the assessment can require additional time depending on: 

    • Vehicle type – High-performance vehicles or those with advanced features can take longer to inspect.
      • 🚘  Cars typically take under an hour
      • 🏍️  Motorcycles often have quicker MOTs, usually taking between 30 and 45 minutes given their simpler structure
      • 🚌  Vans testing usually lasts between 1 to 1.5 hours due to their size and complexity
    • Vehicle condition and repairs – Well-maintained cars typically undergo quicker assessments compared to those with existing issues. If an issue is detected during assessment, further repairs and retesting may be necessary, adding to the overall timeline.
    • Testing centre efficiency and workload – Busier centres may have longer wait times.  

    What is checked during an MOT test?

    The MOT is a comprehensive vehicle safety and functionality exam. It inspects various car components and systems, including:

    • Braking system 🚩
    • Bodywork
    • Exhaust emissions
    • Exhaust system 🚩
    • Fuel system
    • Horn
    • Lights and signals 🚩
    • Registration Plates
    • Seats
    • Seat belts
    • Steering and suspension 🚩
    • Wheels and tyres 🚩
    • Windscreen 
    • Wipers and washer bottle

    🚩 = common areas of MOT failure

    Many of these items are quick and easy to check yourself before taking your car for its MOT test. This means you can avoid having to pay for a retest or repairs simply because you had a faulty light bulb, low tyres, or an empty windscreen washer bottle. Carrying out regular car maintenance and promptly addressing dashboard warning lights also help put your vehicle in top shape before the MOT. If in doubt, have a mechanic inspect critical systems before your test.

    Where can I book an MOT test?

    The annual MOT test usually takes under an hour and can be done at most garages.

    MOT tests must be performed at certified MOT assessment centres. You can find your local MOT centre or garage with a quick Google search. Alongside smaller local garages, you can also get your MOT test at national brands like Kwik Fit and Halfords, as well as dealership service centres or Council MOT sites.

    It’s also worth asking friends and family, or via social media, for recommendations of good local garages for your MOT.

    What should I do if my vehicle fails the MOT test?

    If your vehicle fails its yearly MOT test, it’s essential to act promptly and efficiently. Get a copy of the comprehensive failure report from the testing centre, which details the specific issues with your vehicle, and schedule repairs ASAP.

    You can have the repairs done at the same testing centre or opt for another reputable garage. Once the repairs are completed, keep all invoices as proof. 

    You’ll then need to rebook the MOT test to ensure that all identified issues have been fixed. Be sure to bring your repair invoices to the MOT retest as you could qualify for a partial or full retest fee exemption. 

    How long is an MOT certificate valid?

    An existing MOT certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. You cannot legally drive on UK roads if your certificate is out of date, even if you have a MOT test scheduled.

    What happens after the MOT test?

    After the new MOT test, your car will get one of three possible grades.

    🥇 Pass – Vehicle meets safety and environmental standards, and a new certificate is issued

    🏁 Advisory – Vehicle meets safety and environmental standards, but potential issues have been detected and should be monitored. While these issues do not meet the MOT failure criteria, it’s crucial to address them to prevent future MOT failures. 

    ❌ Fail – Vehicle cannot be driven on UK roads. You will receive a failure report outlining identified issues with the car; repairs must be made before you have an MOT retest. 

    FAQs

    Can you do a MOT in 30 minutes?

    Most likely not. A current MOT test takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour. Quick turnaround depends on factors like the testing centre’s workload and your vehicle’s condition.

    Can I drive while waiting for MOT?

    Not. You cannot drive or park your vehicle on the road if your MOT is expired. The only exception is if you are driving it somewhere to be repaired. 

    Can I drive straight after MOT?

    Yes, if your vehicle passes the MOT you are free to hit the road. New MOT certificates are valid immediately after the test is completed. 

    However, if your car fails the MOT test, it must be repaired to meet road safety before being driven. The only exception here is that you can drive your car to its MOT retest.

    Can you sell a car without an MOT?

    Technically, you can sell a car without a valid MOT certificate. However, not having an MOT makes a vehicle difficult to sell, reducing both its potential buyer pool and sales price as buyers are looking for safe used vehicles. Cars that have failed their MOT are more likely to be given Cat D status, otherwise known as being a write-off, and could be dangerous!

    As it’s illegal to drive without an MOT, you cannot road test cars without MOT certificates and you will need to find alternative ways to transport them to buyers.

    If your car fails the MOT test, another option is to sell it for scrap. Remember: you won’t be able to legally drive it to the garage or scrapyard!

    Need to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from Clean Air Zones to car tax, and plate changes to part exchange.