The MOT (Ministry Of Transport) Test is a vehicular safety examination carried out annually by law on all cars over 3 years of age from their first registration date. All cars are required to undergo their MOT by law and an active certificate is also a prerequisite for some car insurance companies- in of itself a legal requirement.
Driving a car without an MOT Certificate is an offence punishable by fines up to £5,000 initially, although this can expand exponentially as repeat offenders will be court summoned, which incurs steep court fees.
However, these penalties are nothing compared to the risk you run to your health by avoiding your MOT Test.
Over the years, the test has seen many changes and modifications to its contents, format and legal requirements. As the world progressed into the 21st century, the MOT Test has become more autonomous than ever before. Vehicles with an expired and not renewed MOT certificate are automatically passed onto the police after a period of time, meaning dodging your MOT is harder than ever before.
The MOT Test was first introduced following the 1956 Road Traffic Act by then Transport Minister Ernest Marples. Initially, the test only covered brakes, lights and overall steering and was required for vehicles over 10 years old - hence its original name: the Ministry Of Transport “Ten-Year Test.”
One year later, due to a very high failure rate in the initial tests, MOT Tests were made mandatory for all cars over 7 years, as opposed to 10 and then for every year thereafter.
The MOT test was introduced for commercial vehicles and a valid, up-to-date MOT certificate was deemed a requirement for getting your tax disc.
At this point, MOT Tests were made mandatory for all cars over 3 years and then every one year thereafter.
Tyre checks were added to the MOT Test. By regulation, tyres had to have 1mm of tread across ¾ of its total width.
In 1977, the MOT test was expanded to include six new mandatory items:
Windscreen wipers & washers
The exhaust system
and a full body & chassis test.
1983 saw vehicles with a high passenger count: taxis, ambulances and cars with over 8 passenger seats minus the driver’s booked in for mandatory yearly checks after the purchase date. These important vehicles had to be tested every year by law.
In ‘91 a further five tests were added to the MOT…
Emissions checks for any petrol-driven cars
Rear-wheel bearings & steering (when applicable) Rear seat belts
and the anti-lock braking system
The minimum tyre tread depth, set at 1mm in 1968, was expanded to 1.6mm.
In line with entry to the EU in 1993, and alike petrol in 1991, all diesel fuelled cars were now subject to mandatory emissions checks.
2005 saw the MOT test progress to the technological century, as advanced Automatic MOT bays began to be used, eliminating the need for an Assistant Mechanic. Also, a new computer system was inaugurated which generated electronic, non-secure MOT certificates.
2012 was the most important year in recent memory for the MOT as the whole test was overhauled to officially include a whole host of new, smaller checks that were being included in private service packages. Included in these were:
The battery (and its wiring)
and secondary restraint systems.
Also in 2012, the DVLA website was vastly expanded to feature the full histories of all registered vehicles. Acting as a central database, all new certificates printed included an MOT Test registration number, which allowed drivers to view the record of their test (and all previous tests) online.
At the very end of 2012, MOT certificates were modified to display the vehicle's recent mileage history, as a part of a government effort to reduce vehicular crime.
The long-standing DSA (Driving Standards Agency) and VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) are merged to create the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency), whom maintain full authority over the MOT test in 2016 and beyond.