Even though having a Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is a legal requirement for drivers of vehicles that are three years or older, over a quarter of such drivers simply forget to have their MOT check done. As such, they often end up driving a vehicle that’s not legally permitted to be on the roads.

An MOT vehicle test is designed to ensure that each vehicle on the UK’s roads is roadworthy and safe – both for you and for other drivers. But for those who forget about it or those in Loughborough who simply need more information, we’ve prepared a detailed guide to help you through your next MOT test.

What is an MOT test?

An MOT test is a compulsory vehicle test that is carried out at an MOT test centre every 12 months once a vehicle is three-years-old or older. As such, it is an annual check to ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy, secure and will not cause harm to other road users.

Ideally, the MOT test should be performed by a reputable organisation or testing centre, which after the inspection, will provide you with an MOT certificate. The information on the certificate will tell you if you’ve either passed or failed the MOT test.

A failure means that your car has “dangerous” faults that need to be rectified right away, the vehicle should not be driven and once repaired, it should be brought back for a re-test. You will be allocated a pass even if the vehicle tester has identified faults considered “major” or “minor”.

Although you can still drive with “major” faults after an MOT test, it’s highly advisable to have these rectified as soon as possible. “Minor” faults should also not be neglected for too long and should rather be dealt with promptly.

When does a car need an MOT?

A frequent question that arises with regard to MOT tests for new cars is: when will a new car need its first MOT? The answer is quite straightforward. It will be three years after the new vehicle’s date of registration.

For older vehicles that are more than three-years-old, and you’d like to find out either when is the MOT due or when does the MOT run out, the quickest way to check this is by looking at your last/current MOT certificate’s expiry date. If you can’t locate this certificate, you can enter your vehicle’s registration number on the gov.uk website to see when your MOT expires, or by using the MOT checker on our homepage.

Another common question that arises is: my car is 3 years old – when do I need an MOT? With regard to this question, the answer will be on the vehicle’s third anniversary.

How early can you do an MOT?

Because MOT tests are carried out on vehicles every 12 months, and you cannot drive your car (unless you’re specifically driving to a pre-booked MOT test centre) with an expired MOT, it’s highly advisable that you book an MOT test around one month prior to the current certificate’s expiry date. Although you can make your booking earlier, one month prior is usually the standard time you should consider.

How long does an MOT take?

Although different MOT test centres will conduct MOT tests at different paces, on average, you can expect to have your MOT test take anywhere from 45 minutes to one hour.

What is tested on an MOT?

With over 45 years of experience in carrying out MOT tests, in addition to car services and repairs amongst many others, you may be wondering what is tested on an MOT. It must be noted that our checklist is comprehensive and fully compliant with the checks required to be carried out by law. These checks include both interior (seats and seat belts, warning lamps, switches, doors, mirrors, horn, etc) and exterior checks (registration plates, headlamps & aim, shock absorbers, mirrors, towbars, etc), under-bonnet checks (vehicle structure, braking/fuel/exhaust systems, etc.), under-vehicle checks (suspenssion, shock absorbers, wheel bearings, tyres, wheels, etc), emissions, parking brake.

If you want to be somehow prepared for your MOT test, you could do some pre-MOT checks yourself.

As a rule of thumb, we wouldn’t normally recommend these, as MOT testers all follow a guideline. Some testers may be stricter than others. So it really does depend on the tester and on the garage’s policy.

And back to the pre-MOT checks might include things such as checking brakes and tyres (including tyre tread that is the recommended depth), checking that your doors open and close securely, testing your horn, seeing that all your lights work optimally, ensuring your seatbelts are secure and work as well, and others.

What happens if your car fails an MOT?

By law, a vehicle that fails an MOT test is not permitted on the roads. This is because “dangerous” defects have been identified, which need immediate attention. However, there are some slight loopholes to consider. And that is with regards to some drivers who wonder if they can drive their car if it fails an MOT before the due date.

While the technical answer to this is yes, it should be kept in mind that this situation can only happen if the vehicle has undergone and failed an MOT test before the last MOT certificate’s expiry date. The risks of doing this are serious, though. You could be stopped, fined and prosecuted. A situation that few would like to find themselves in.

So to answer the question how long can you drive without an MOT, we would advise you not to drive without an MOT at all. Unless you are specifically driving your vehicle for a pre-booked MOT test.

Book your next MOT test with us

Vehicle owners looking to have their MOT in Loughborough will find themselves in good hands with us at Duke Street Motors. We have been carrying out MOT testing services for over 45 years and are considered experts in the industry.

With so many happy and satisfied clients, we put a lot of effort into ensuring that you have your car thoroughly tested for your MOT. We also provide comprehensive advice on what to do in the event that your car fails its MOT test.

If your current MOT certificate is reaching its expiry date, then isn’t it time to get in touch with our MOT centre in Loughborough? All it takes is a few clicks via our online form and we’ll be ready to handle all your vehicle’s MOT testing needs.