Drivers: Cut the cost of your MOT

Updated on 28 March 2011 | 18 Comments

If your MOT is due, here's how you can save the pennies and get it done at the best price.

Taking your car for its MOT is one of those really annoying tasks in life. Unfortunately, however, it’s a necessity. If you get caught driving a vehicle on the road with an expired MOT certificate, you can get a fixed penalty notice from the police of £60, or a court fine up to a maximum of a £1,000.

So if your MOT is looming and you’re desperate to keep the costs down, here are some top tips to help you!

Carry out some DIY

The first thing to do before taking your car for its MOT is to carry out a little DIY and check that everything is working as it should be. That way, you can get anything that needs fixing repaired before it goes in for its MOT – and as a result, there’s less of a chance of your car failing its MOT.

To give you a few tips on what you need to check, take a look at the following:

  • Are all the lights (headlights, rear lights, rear registration plate light, rear fog lamps, brake lights and indicator lights) in good condition and working fully?
  • Is the tyre pressure correct? Look in the vehicle handbook, or consult your garage or tyre dealer to find out the recommended tyre pressure.
  • Is the tyre tread correct? The legal minimum tread is 1.6mm.
  • Are there any cracks in the windscreen? Are the windscreen wipers in good condition or are they looking a little worn?
  • Are the handbrake, horn, mirrors and seatbelts in good working order?
  • Is the correct amount of oil in the engine? There are tips on how to check this here.
  • Is the exhaust making unusual sounds or leaking?
  • Is the registration plate easy to read and properly secured to your car? Are there any cracks?
  • Is the Vehicle Identification Number displayed?

If any of these are not working as they should be, get them fixed. You can view a list of what the MOT test will look at here.

Shop around

The good news is there is a limit to how much you can be charged for your MOT. The government has stipulated that MOTs on cars and motor caravans must cost no more than £54.85, while MOTs for motorbikes can cost no more than £29.65. You can view the full list on the Directgov website.

However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shop around to ensure you’re getting the very best deal, as some garages will charge less than this. Just remember that you will still have to pay for any repairs on top of the price of the MOT.

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Choose your garage carefully

When you’re deciding where to take your vehicle for its MOT, choose carefully. There are around 19,000 garages authorised as MOT test stations across the country – so make sure you hunt one out by looking for the blue three triangles logo which should be displayed outside. The maximum fee for the test must also be displayed on a poster inside every station.  

It’s also worth asking your friends and relatives if they know anywhere local that will carry out an MOT. After all, if they can recommend somewhere that is reasonably priced and will do a good job, this will save you worrying about being caught out by a dodgy garage and shoddy work.

Use your local council

Instead of heading to your nearest garage, a better option might be to take your car to a government MOT test centre provided by your local council. Many local councils have their own MOT testing stations for council vehicles, such as buses or ambulances, but by law, they have to also be open to the public.

You may well find that the cost of your MOT at one of these testing stations is cheaper than at your local garage. So it’s definitely worth investigating. That said, government MOT test centres won’t carry out any repairs – so if you need any, you will have to take your car elsewhere.

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On the plus side, this means you know the mechanic at the government test centre won’t invent faults that need fixing because he’s not going to get any extra cash out of you!

Free retest

You may not know this, but if your car does fail its MOT, you’re entitled to a FREE retest once the necessary repairs have been carried out – providing your car doesn’t leave the garage’s test centre and this is done within 10 working days.

You also won’t have to pay for a retest if the failed vehicle is taken away and repaired, but brought back to the same test station and retested before the end of the next working day - providing the failure points are one or more of the following:

  • Bonnet
  • Horn
  • Sharp edges
  • Bootlid
  • Lamps
  • Steering wheel
  • Brake pedal antislip
  • Loading door
  • Tailboard
  • Direction indicators
  • Mirrors
  • Tailgate doors
  • Rear reflectors
  • Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
  • Dropsides
  • Registration plates
  • Windscreen and glass fuel filler cap
  • Seat belts
  • Wipers and washers
  • Hazard warning
  • Seats wheels and tyres

If the vehicle fails due to something else, you may only be charged a partial retest fee if you’ve taken the car away from the testing station for repair and returned it for a retest within 10 working days. You can find out more about this here.

Remember, if you've got an appointment for an MOT or for repairs to a car that will enable it to pass its MOT, then you are legally allowed to drive your car without an MOT - but only to the garage you've got the appointment at!

Replacing certificates

Finally, if you lose or damage your certificate, luckily this doesn’t mean you will have to go in for a retest. You can apply for a duplicate from any MOT testing station – for a maximum fee of £10.

You will need to provide the vehicle registration mark and either the original MOT test number or document reference number which can be found on the registration certificate (V5C).

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