How to check if your car or van’s MOT is up to date

    The Ministry of Transport test – more commonly known as the ‘MOT’ – checks your vehicle’s environmental and safety standards. It’s also a legal requirement and helps to make sure your car is well-maintained .

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    How do you get an MOT history check to ensure your vehicle is up to date? In this guide, we’ll look at why MOTs are important, what they check, the potential costs involved, and the quickest way to confirm your vehicle’s MOT history.

    What is the MOT and why do I need it?

    Car with up to date MOT on the countryside road

    An MOT is an annual maintenance inspection conducted on vehicles aged three years and older in mainland UK – four in Northern Ireland.

    A certified MOT examiner checks the critical aspects of the vehicle such as the brakes, lighting system, and even the windscreen wipers. 

    They also conduct an emissions assessment to verify compliance with established standards (such as Euro 6 for diesel in Clean Air Zones) and to check the engine is running as efficiently as possible.

    The MOT examination is a pass/fail system that primarily tests the minimum operational requirements necessary for your safety on the road. However, it also includes a comprehensive list of checks and inspections:

    Internal checks – Within the vehicle’s cabin, the examiner checks the:

    • Condition of the lights
    • Seats and seat belts 
    • Functioning of the steering wheel
    • Steering column, and the doors
    • Condition of the internal mirrors
    • Accuracy of the speedometer
    • Effectiveness of the horn.

    External inspection – Examiners check the vehicle’s exterior as part of the MOT. They look at the:

    • Number plates
    • Lamps
    • Indicators
    • Bodywork
    • Tyres
    • Wheels
    • Wipers
    • Exterior mirrors
    • Windows.

    Under-the-vehicle checks – The car’s underside is checked and the following is looked at:

    • Steering and drive shafts 
    • Suspension 
    • Shock absorbers
    • Brakes
    • Wheel bearings
    • Exhaust
    • Fuel systems

    Under-the-bonnet inspection – MOT examiners also look under the bonnet to test the electrical wiring and battery health.

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    Why verify a vehicle’s MOT status?

    A vehicle’s MOT history provides crucial insights into its past, such as any mechanical issues, and whether it’s been properly maintained by previous owners.

    It is also a legal requirement. You’re only allowed to drive a vehicle without a valid MOT on the road if you’re getting it repaired or you’re going to a pre-arranged MOT test. 

    Otherwise, if you drive on UK roads without a valid MOT, it can result in fines of up to £2,500, three penalty points on your driving licence, and even a driving ban.

    How do I check my car’s MOT status?

    Verifying the MOT status of your car, or any vehicle for that matter, is a straightforward process.

    The easiest way to check your MOT is to use Motorway’s free MOT Checker. Simply enter the reg number in the search box, and tap the ‘Check MOT’ button. It tells you if your MOT is valid, and gives you a countdown for how many days you have left before it runs out.  

    MOT screenshot
    The easiest way to get an MOT history check is to visit Motorway’s free MOT checker.

    To see the vehicle’s MOT history, scroll down the page to the heading ‘MOT’, where you’ll see the vehicle’s MOT status. If the car is in possession of a valid MOT certificate, you’ll also be provided with the exact date that the vehicle’s next MOT is required.

    Further down the page, you’ll see even more information regarding the vehicle’s MOT. Under the heading ‘MOT History & Mileage’, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the MOT tests that a vehicle has had in its lifetime.

    Assuming the vehicle is more than three years old (or four in Northern Ireland), this information will be dated by year and will provide you with mileage readings and details about any advisory or failure notices that were recorded by the tester during the vehicle’s MOTs.

    Why is it important to check when your MOT is due?

    There are several reasons why everyone should check their MOT due date, including:

    • It’s a legal requirement – Every driver must obtain an MOT to drive their vehicle in public, as it ensures the safety of other road users, passengers, pedestrians, and road infrastructure.
    • If you don’t have an up-to-date MOT, you won’t be able to drive your car on public roads – If your car has missed its MOT date, you can only drive it to an MOT testing station or workshop. If you’re stopped by the police and can’t provide an appointment letter, your journey is considered unlawful. So, if you do miss your MOT date, it’s crucial that you drive carefully to the test centre and remember your paperwork.
    • It gives you time to identify issues – Many drivers arrange a pre-MOT service for their car or inspect their vehicles themselves before the due date. By knowing when your MOT is due, you can carry out all necessary checks and be more confident your car will pass without incurring any MOT failure codes, potentially saving money in the process.

    How much does an MOT cost?

    The UK government sets the maximum cost for an MOT on a car. It’s currently £54.85. However, the actual price can vary from one garage to another, so it’s advisable to compare prices in order to find the most competitive rate.

    On average, an MOT test takes around 45-60 minutes to complete. However, if your car fails the test and requires repairs, the service can take a lot longer.

    What’s the best way to perform an MOT check on your car or van?

    Motorway’s free MOT Checker is the easiest way of finding out your car’s current MOT status and when it’s due for a retest. All you need to do is enter your reg, and you’ll get an accurate deadline for your next MOT test.

    Additionally, TotalCarCheck is an online platform that allows you to access a range of important info about your vehicle – including MOT status, road tax, insurance details, VIN confirmation, emissions compliance, and safety recall information.

    Although a lot of the information is provided for free by TotalCarCheck’s website – such as the MOT status check – if you need a more in-depth look at a vehicle, you can trade up to their ‘Gold’ or ‘Silver’ services, where you’ll provided with an even wider range of vehicle checks – including write-off checks, outstanding finance checks, logbook loan checks, and salvage history checks. 

    These are essential resources if you’re buying a used car and want to check its entire history.

    Ready to sell?

    Need to sell your car, check your MOT history, or want to understand more about documentation or maintenance? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from the paperwork you need when buying and selling, to various notices you may need to file with the DVLA.