The Do's and Dont's of an MOT

Can you imagine a time when an MOT was only needed when a car was a decade old?!
That’s how it was in the old days!
The MOT (Ministry of Transport) test has come a long way since it was first introduced in 1960. Back then, the test simply covered brakes, lights and steering and unbelievably, was not compulsory until a vehicle was ten years old – something that makes us at Orchard Garage shudder!
Fortunately, MOTs (which still retain the acronym years after the organisation finished) today are far more thorough and are legally required much sooner, when a vehicle reaches three years of age.
But the constant revisions and updates to the test mean that many drivers get their gear sticks in a twist about what the requirements are.
So, allow us to run you through some common dos and don’ts of your car’s annual health check:

  • Do make sure your car is clean and tidy, inside and out. A tester can refuse to inspect a vehicle that is dirty or cluttered. We don’t expect to be able to check our hair in the hub caps but if your car is beginning to resemble a mobile skip, you might want to give it the once-over first. After all, if someone made you work in that environment, you’d probably refuse too!
  • Don’t arrive with an empty tank or you could be turned away. An emissions check is an important part of the test - pretty tricky when there’s no fuel to produce them!
  • Do avoid failing due to something simple and inexpensive by making sure you check bulbs, wiper blades, plus tyre condition and pressure. 
  • Don’t assume that an MOT gives you carte blanche to neglect your car for the rest of the year. The test confirms your vehicle met the legal safety and environmental standards at the time it was tested. It is not a licence to drive around with rotting suspensions, loose bolts, or worse, torn seatbelts knotted together…like these drivers on the DVSA MOT Horror Stories blog…
  • Do make life easier for yourself by making sure we have your details – because we send you a reminder when your MOT is due! Because nothing gets the blood pumping quite like suddenly remembering your MOT expired 3 months ago as you whizz past a police car on the M25…
  • Don’t be tempted to drive your car with an expired MOT. Your insurance will be invalid, and you could be fined up to £1,000. You may book your test a month before it expires at the earliest. However, the only time you may legally drive without an MOT is if you are taking your vehicle to a garage for a pre-booked test. 
  • Do check your horn is working. The more, shall we say, animated motorists among us may be well aware if their car’s horn is fully functioning. But those of us who are a little more serene behind the wheel will likely not have sounded it for some time and therefore, can’t be sure that it’s working. A faulty horn will result in a fail. So, get tooting!
  • Don’t mistake an MOT for a service. An MOT does not cover the engine, clutch or gearbox. Servicing is not legally required but ensures your car is performing at peak ability according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. It can be tailored, covering everything from brakes to heated steering wheels. Think of an MOT as a basic health check and a service as a spa treatment.


Keeping up to date with MOT requirements can be daunting for most motorists. Thankfully, we’re your local experts, on-hand to answer any questions you have about carrying out tests on cars, vans and motorbikes running on all types of fuel. 

Give us a call for advice and to book in. 

01322 271000

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