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This article was last updated on 1 August 2022 

How long does an MOT take In 2022?

What is an MOT test?

An MOT test (Ministry of Transport roadworthiness test) is an annual safety inspection that must be completed by all vehicles over 3 years old. If your car doesn’t pass its MOT test, it can cost you up to £1,000 in fines and may result in the vehicle being taken off the road. An MOT test is required every year by law in the UK, so it is important to be on top of when your MOT test expires.

The MOT is designed to make sure your car meets road safety standards by checking that everything from the tyres to the windshield wipers is in good condition. The tester will assess various factors which will determine whether your vehicle is safe to drive on UK roads. 

How long does an MOT take?

MOT tests usually don’t take more than an hour; the average MOT test takes around 40 minutes. However, this will vary depending on how busy a garage or testing station is. The length of time an MOT takes also depends on the size and condition of the vehicle itself. If a problem arises with the vehicle it could add an extra 15 minutes to the total MOT time.

If you think your vehicle may take more than 40 minutes for the MOT test, it’s good to plan ahead and book an appointment in advance. This way you can be sure to get booked in with a tester who has some free time available to take longer over your MOT test. MOTs can take up to an hour.

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How do I know when to take my car for an MOT test?

To check the timing of your next MOT, you can look at your previous MOT certificate. An MOT typically lasts one year. You should have a paper copy of the current certificate, which will include both the deadline for your next MOT and the details of when the car was last tested.

How does the MOT test work?

Before the MOT test begins, your mechanic will ask you to put your car into ‘P’ (Parking) which disengages the engine. Then you will have to wait whilst the mechanic completes the MOT test. There are usually waiting areas at the test centre. The tester will carry out various checks on the exterior, including the windows. They are looking for anything that might indicate dangerous additional work or that illegal modifications have been made to your vehicle.

They will examine seat belts, headlight alignment and brake fluid levels before checking all four wheels for dangerous tyres. Once this is completed, the mechanic will look at any potential issues with the car’s bodywork. They may need to lift up panels in order to check things like oil leaks or if there are holes in any part of the bodywork.

The mechanic will also check all lights and the car’s horn. They will test the windscreen wipers and inspect the brake pads, exhaust emissions and handbrake. The engine will be inspected using a tablet computer to take readings of the emission levels and any electronic components, such as ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System) and ESP (Electronic Stability Programme).

After this, the tester will try to start your car up again so they can hear what is going on mechanically. This may take a few attempts if there are any obvious problems with the engine. Next, they test all four tyres by hand for wear and tear and ensure that the brakes halt the vehicle correctly at a reasonable speed (usually 20mph).

Your vehicle will be given a pass or fail grade at the end of the MOT test. Following an MOT fail, you will have to pay for any necessary repairs before having the vehicle tested again within 10 days. Usually, you will not need to pay the MOT cost again.

What is checked during an MOT test?

MOT testers will check all components of your car, van or motorcycle to ensure the vehicle is in a roadworthy condition. There are many factors that are assessed during an MOT. While the number of checks carried out will vary between testing centres, the standard list of things that will be tested is as follows:

  • Braking and steering systems, including tyres

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  • Electrical systems
  • The bodywork
  • Luggage space (boot)
  • Safety equipment (windscreen wipers, washers, headlights, shock absorbers)
  • Exhaust system (if applicable)
  • Car seats and seat belts

What do I need for an MOT test?

To take part in the MOT test, you must have a valid existing MOT certificate in your name.

You need to take along all the keys for your vehicle and any spare fuses. Make sure that there are enough spares to cover the whole test. You must also have all of the original parts for any replacement components (for example; bolts, bolts covers, clips).

Another thing you need is a valid driving licence. Most people find that their standard paper licence from the DVLA website will do.

You will usually need to show the testing centre your vehicle registration certificate with a registration number and car insurance documents.

MOT test preparation tips

  • Ensure that your vehicle is in a good state of cleanliness
  • Clean all headlight lenses and replace any broken or missing lights
  • Test the braking system before you go for an MOT, as problems with this can result in a fail
  • Make sure the tyres have enough tread left on them so they are safe for road use. You should have at least 1.6mm of the tread to pass an MOT test. As tyres naturally wear down over time, it’s best to check how much tread is left at the start of each winter to ensure that there will be sufficient grip remaining throughout the cold months ahead.
  • Check your oil and fluid levels to ensure the MOT tester will not need to top them up during the test
  • Take your car for car servicing regularly. Local garages will offer different kinds of servicing and most garages offer a full service, which should provide a complete safety check on your vehicle and save money for you in the long run

After the MOT test, what happens?

Cars pass their annual MOT tests most of the time without any problems. A vehicle that passes its MOT test will receive a certificate. This certificate proves that the vehicle has been tested and meets the minimum legal standards for roadworthiness at present. You must keep this MOT certificate for as long as your car, van or motorcycle is on the road.

The MOT will be valid for one year from the date on which it was issued, or until another MOT is necessary following any modification or repairs to the engine, gearbox or bodywork, whichever occurs first.

What happens if your car fails its MOT

When cars fail their MOT, this means they are not roadworthy and will need to be fixed before they can part in further MOT tests. Any repairs that are needed as a result of any defects that were noted during the MOT test must be carried out at your own expense.

You can usually take your vehicle to a local garage to be repaired if the MOT testing centre does not offer this service. Repairs to your vehicle must usually be completed within 10 days of being notified of a failed MOT test. If there are only minor issues, they can often be dealt with on the same day.

It’s important to fix all problems as soon as possible, as unroadworthy cars will not pass future MOTs until the issues have been addressed. Once you’ve fixed all outstanding issues, you’ll need to get your car tested again to ensure it meets the minimum legal requirements to obtain a new MOT certificate.

If your car does not pass its MOT, there may also be problems with insurance. Some insurance providers might require your car to be in complete working order before insurance is reinstated, so it’s worth speaking to your insurance provider before you take part in an MOT test.

Common reasons cars fail the MOT test

1. Outdated documents

This is a common mistake made by car owners and can result in an MOT failure. The official list of items that require regular checks needs to be on the public record so it can be seen by authorised inspectors who carry out on-road checks. This list is used when inspecting your vehicle at the MOT test centre. These records must be kept up-to-date and available for all authorised personnel during a check or an MOT test.

2. Tyres

The most frequent reason for an MOT failure is due to tyres not being roadworthy enough, which represents around one third of total refusals each year. Manufacturers’ recommendations are there for a good reason: tyres should be kept in excellent condition to maintain a certain level of grip and control in whatever conditions you can expect to encounter on the road.

3. Lights

This is another common reason for MOT failures. Every time you drive at night or in poor visibility, your lights are doing crucial jobs: alerting other drivers and pedestrians to your presence, helping them see where they’re going and making it easier for you to avoid them. If any single light doesn’t work properly, this could invalidate your MOT test result – depending on what’s wrong with the light and how obvious the fault is.

4. Bodywork

Corrosion not only affects the appearance of vehicles but can also seriously affect their roadworthiness. The MOT test assesses a car’s shell to make sure it’s not too perforated or damaged. It is vital to ensure the bodywork of your car is in good condition, as significant holes or rust could render your vehicle unfit for use.

5. Seatbelts

Seatbelt problems are another common reason for MOT failures. These can include a seatbelt not being securely fixed so it moves when you do, or not retracting when you remove the belt.

MOT retests

If your car needs to be retested following a failed MOT test, you will need to make an appointment with a local testing station in order to get your vehicle re-checked.

If the car needs servicing before a retest, you will be issued a repair notice. This explains what work needs to be carried out, and when the MOT retest should take place. Once the repair has been completed, you can contact the testing station to make an appointment for another inspection.

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your MOT retest, or if your vehicle fails for a second time, you can appeal the results by writing to the local council – there will be information on how to do so displayed at your test centre. If an error was made during the original inspection, they may agree that it is necessary to re-test your car and give it a new MOT certificate.

Meet the author

Jane Parkinson

Jane Parkinson

Jane is one of our primary content writers and specialises in elder care. She has a degree in English language and literature from Manchester University and has been writing and reviewing products for a number of years.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MOT test?

An MOT test (Ministry of Transport roadworthiness test) is an annual safety inspection that must be completed by all vehicles over 3 years old.

How long does an MOT take?

MOT tests usually don’t take more than an hour; the average MOT test takes around 40 minutes.

How do I know when to take my car for an MOT test?

To check the timing of your next MOT, you can look at your previous MOT certificate.

How does the MOT test work?

Before the MOT test begins, your mechanic will ask you to put your car into ‘P’ (Parking) which disengages the engine.

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