How Frequently Should You Get an MOT for Your Car?

In the UK, cars over 3 years old require an annual MOT (Ministry of Transport) test to ensure they meet road safety and environmental standards. You must legally schedule this test every 12 months, but you have some flexibility to book it up to one month minus a day before the expiration date to preserve the original renewal date.

Understanding MOT Test Frequency

New cars require their first MOT test on the third anniversary of registration. After your vehicle reaches 3 years old, you must schedule an MOT test every 12 months. You can find the specific expiration date for the next test printed on your current MOT certificate.

MOT tests thoroughly check the roadworthiness and emissions of vehicles to ensure they adhere to the legal standards set out by the UK Department for Transport. To learn exactly when your particular car needs its first MOT test, check out our helpful guide on When Should You Get Your Car’s First MOT?

How Often Does a Car Need an MOT

Scheduling Flexibility for MOT Renewal

While MOT certificates last 12 months, there is some leeway in when you can complete the next test. To preserve the original renewal timeline, you can perform an MOT test for up to one month minus a day before the printed expiry date.

Effectively, this allows the new MOT certificate to be valid for 13 months instead of the typical 12. However, if you complete the test even earlier than the one-month timeframe, the system will bring forward the renewal date for the following year accordingly.

Table showing MOT renewal flexibility:

MOT Expiry DateEarliest Retest DateNew Expiry DateTotal Valid Time
1 Jan 20241 Dec 20231 Jan 202513 months
1 Jan 20241 Nov 20231 Nov 202412 months

Risks of Delaying MOT Tests

Driving a vehicle with an expired MOT certificate is illegal, and you risk fines of up to £1000 unless you drive directly to a pre-booked test appointment.

Additionally, it could invalidate your car insurance coverage and potentially lead to a conviction with penalty points if caught. From a safety perspective, delaying tests worsens mechanical, electrical, or structural issues, increasing the chances of a dangerous breakdown or accident.

Benefits of Timely MOT Testing

Getting annual MOT tests done on time has several advantages beyond just staying legally compliant:

  • Ensures your car remains in a safe and roadworthy condition, reducing the risk of accidents
  • Helps identify potential problems early so they can be addressed through proactive maintenance and repairs
  • Maintains the vehicle’s value and longevity through regular comprehensive checks
  • Provides peace of mind that your car meets high safety and operational standards
  • Demonstrates responsible vehicle ownership through a commitment to annual testing

The MOT test is a mandatory annual vehicle safety and emissions inspection for most cars over 3 years old in the UK. While drivers have some flexibility in scheduling tests up to one month before the printed MOT due date, it’s critical to get it done on time and not let certificates expire.

Timely MOTs keep your road legal and compliant, but more importantly, catch developing issues early and help keep your car in excellent working order for safety, reliability, value retention, and responsible ownership. How often does a car need an MOT? Every single year without fail once it reaches age 3.


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