What does MOT stand for?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport. “MOT test”, or “MOT”, refers to the testing done by Department for Transport-approved garages to determine whether vehicles are roadworthy. The department mandates periodic testing for vehicles driven on public roads. Those whose vehicles are due for testing might wonder what does MOT stand for. Although the Department of Transport assumed MOT testing after the Ministry of Transport was eliminated, the phrase “MOT test” survived the government reorganization. Hopefully this short explanation answers the question “What does MOT stand for?”.

Which vehicles need an MOT?

Private vehicles that are three or more years old cannot be driven on public roads in the United Kingdom unless they have been issued a VT20 or VT32 safety certificate by an approved garage. However, such a vehicle can be driven to an MOT testing centre for a scheduled test. There is a charge for the test, and the amount depends on the classification of the vehicle.

When was the MOT introduced?

When the MOT test was introduced in the 1960s, only the brakes, lights and steering were subject to evaluation. The test now covers the car’s body, including the doors; the tyres and wheels are also tested, as is the windscreen. The seats and seat belts, mirrors and horn are checked, along with the wipers. Vehicle suspension is also tested for safety. The testers also examine the fuel and exhaust systems, and they check to see that vehicle emissions meet department standards. Registration plates and the vehicle identification number are checked. The electrical system, including the battery and all visible wiring are tested for safety.

Who can perform MOT tests?

Only Department for Transport-approved garages can perform MOT tests, and only an approved garage can issue a safety certificate. When testing was originally mandated in the 1960s, it was performed annually on vehicles that had been on the road for ten years. Currently, annual testing begins on private vehicles once they are three years old. Annual tests are required for commercial vehicles, ambulances and taxis after the first year of operation. Safety certificates are valid for one year, and subsequent tests can be done no more than one month before the existing certificate expires. The earliest date for retesting appears on the safety certificate.

What happens if the vehicle passes or fails?

Vehicles that pass the test are issued the MOT certificate. The test center will issue a notification of failure to a driver whose vehicle has failed the MOT. Upon receiving a notification of failure, the vehicle can only be driven to a garage where an appointment has been booked for the specified repairs. Retesting should be done at the same testing centre that issued the notification of failure.

What does MOT stand for - VT20 Certificate

Drivers can appeal an MOT failure to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) after discussing their concerns with a representative of the garage that issued the notification of failure. DVSA usually retests vehicles free of charge for drivers who feel their cars were incorrectly passed.

The DVSA enters test results into a database, and the results are available online to those with the vehicle identification number and MOT test number. The owner usually makes that information available when selling the automobile. Results include all of a vehicle’s MOT test results, and the mileage recorded upon each test.

How many MOT stations are there?

There are over 19000 Department for Transport-approved garages eligible to perform MOT tests, and they can be identified by sign or logo showing three blue triangles.  You can also use our MOT station finder to locate your closest test centre.

The testing is done in specified bays. Those performing the testing have completed a training course with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). Technicians use equipment that meets DVSA standards. DVSA periodically inspects approved garages.

Changes to MOT testing

On March 20, 2013, changes to MOT testing took effect.  This increased the number of items being checked during a test.

New items being tested include:

  • Power steering malfunction light
  • Brake fluid warning lights lit or broken
  • Engine mountings
  • Speedometer


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Category: MOT Information