How to make sure your car passes its MOT test

Lesson Type
Last updated: 12 Nov 2019

It is a legal requirement to keep your car in a safe and roadworthy condition. To ensure all vehicles on the road meet road safety and environmental standards, car owners are required to get their vehicles MOT tested once a year after it is three years old.

What is an MOT test?

MOT stands for the Ministry Of Transport test, and it is a test which checks that your vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. It does not check the general mechanical condition of your car and it’s not the same as getting your car serviced.

The mechanic taking your car through its MOT test will make checks to ensure that your car is safe to be on the road and that it meets environmental standards.

What does an MOT check?

The MOT test checks a number of the car's components and functionalities to make sure they are all in order. These include:

  • Body and structure
  • Fuel system
  • Exhaust emissions
  • Seat belts
  • Seats
  • Doors
  • Mirrors
  • Load security
  • Brakes
  • Tyres
  • Number plates
  • Lights
  • Bonnet
  • Washers and wipers
  • Windscreen
  • Horn
  • Suspension and steering
  • VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)

When do I have to get an MOT?

You don’t need to get an MOT test on your car until it’s three years old (or 1 year for taxis, private passenger vehicles and ambulances). After three years, you will need to get your car MOT tested every year, to make sure it’s kept in a roadworthy and legal condition.

You can get your new MOT test done up to a month before your current one expires, and the earliest date at which you can get your new MOT will be printed on your previous MOT certificate.

How do I make sure my car passes its MOT?

Keeping your car maintained and serviced regularly is the best way to make sure it passes its MOT. Although all cars will inevitably experience wear and tear, making sure you keep on top of car maintenance can save you from having a huge repair bill when it comes to the MOT test.

You should look in your vehicle manual to find out how often it advises you should get your car serviced. Modern cars tend to have service intervals of 9,000, 12,000 miles or more, but if your annual mileage is less than this, you should make sure you get your car serviced at least once a year.

Maintaining your vehicle between services

There are certain things you can do yourself to maintain your vehicle. Checking oil levels, fluid levels and tyre pressures, for example, are quick and easy to do. Ask your instructor to show you how during your driving lessons if you're not sure. Making sure you check these regularly (ideally, once a week), will ensure your vehicle stays in tip top condition.

Don’t forget about your MOT test

Many drivers drive without a valid MOT. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and Motor Codes have created an MOT reminder service. Visit to set up a personal reminder.