Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

The Safety Test Process Explained

For drivers across the country, one date looms every year that they have to keep in mind – when their vehicle needs its annual MOT test. If you fail to get your MOT done before the expiry date, it becomes illegal to drive that vehicle on any public roads and highways. 

However, the MOT inspection is just the basic minimum requirement.

What is an MOT?

The MOT (Ministry of Transport) test is an annual check that is a legal requirement for most vehicles over 3 years old in the UK. During an MOT Test Reading, the vehicle is inspected against several safety and environmental criteria set by the government. Key items checked include the brakes, lights, tyres, suspension, bodywork, fuel system, exhaust emissions and more.

When is an MOT Needed?

You must obtain and have a valid MOT certificate for your car if it is over 3 years old. The test has to be conducted every single year, and you can book an appointment for it up to one month before the expiration date of your current MOT certificate.  

If unfortunately, your car fails the MOT inspection, you will be required to carry out any necessary repairs to fix the issues before you can book another MOT test. It is illegal to drive a vehicle on public roads without a valid, up-to-date MOT certificate unless you are driving directly to or from a pre-booked MOT testing centre or repair shop appointment.

What Happens at the Official Test Center

So on your appointed test day when you arrive at the approved inspection center or garage, the certified MOT examiner will proceed to go through an extremely comprehensive checklist evaluating all of the critical safety components and systems on your vehicle. Here are some of the main areas and parts they focus on inspecting:

  • All of the brake system components like the pads, discs, callipers, drums etc. to ensure they are in good working condition and operating properly
  • Every single individual exterior light on the vehicle – headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, etc. – gets checked to verify they are operating correctly and aimed/angled in the right direction
  • The tread depth is carefully measured across all tyres on the vehicle including the spare tyre, the overall tyre condition is assessed, and the air pressure levels are verified  
  • All suspension system components like the shocks, struts, springs, control arms and bushings get checked for excessive wear and tear or any potential faults that could impact how they operate
  • If the vehicle has an exhaust system with emissions control components, it gets hooked up to specialized testing equipment to confirm the emissions output isn’t exceeding maximum legal limits


Once the inspectors have carefully worked through that entire detailed checklist process and evaluated every single relevant component, you’ll finally be given the all-important official test result – either a “pass” rating allowing you to continue driving or a “fail” rating. You’ll also likely receive advisory notices about any potential issues they identified that may need attention or replacement soon even though they didn’t fail this time. If your vehicle passes this thorough inspection, congratulations – you’ll be issued an updated valid MOT certificate that will cover you for normal operation on roads for another full 12-month period.

What Happens If Your Vehicle Fails Inspection?

Unfortunately, even after your best preparation efforts, there’s always a chance your vehicle may not make the grade and could fail the MOT inspection on the first attempt that year. If that disappointing result happens, don’t panic – the examiner will provide you with an itemized list of every single component that failed to meet required standards, detailing exactly what needs to be fixed, repaired, or replaced to get it back into a passing condition.

From that point, you’ve essentially got two main options to choose from on how to proceed:

  • You can opt to have all of the necessary repair and replacement work required performed right there on-site at the maintenance/repair shop that’s attached to the same testing centre where your vehicle failed. This can sometimes be a bit more expensive, but it’s a very convenient one-stop solution.
  • You can choose to take your vehicle to a completely different independent auto repair shop or mechanic garage that you trust and have them perform the repairs and replacements needed to address all of the failed items on the list from the inspector.

Once all of those repairs from the failed inspection have been properly completed and finalized, you can then return to that original testing centre where you’ll undergo what’s called a “partial retest” at that point. The inspector will go through and re-evaluate just the specific areas and components that had failed previously. As long as everything is now fixed up and operating within standards, you’ll be issued a brand new valid MOT certificate clearing your vehicle for totally legal operation on roads for the next 12 months.

The Bottom Line  

Staying on top of your annual MOT tests and recommended service intervals is essential not just for keeping your car legally roadworthy, but also for maintaining safety, extending longevity and operational performance too. Finding a trustworthy, qualified garage to handle these important checks and services properly makes all the difference.

-------------------------------- Notice!
Audience discretion is needed, Read TOS.
Submit Guest Post / Read Latest / Category List
App & Rate-Us / Subscribe Daily Newsletter (FREE)
    Submit Article