Money-saving MOT tips – your complete guide

Money-saving MOT tips – your complete guide
In the midst of a cost of living crisis, we've highlighted how you can save some money ahead of your next MOT.

Owning a vehicle comes with various costs like fuel, general upkeep, insurance, and breakdown cover – but you also need to show that your vehicle is road legal. That's where the MOT comes in.

When it comes to saving money on your vehicle, we have a wide range of guides from 30 money-saving tips to saving during the winter months. However, when it comes to the MOT, here's all the information you need.

MOT basics

Any vehicle that is more than three years old is legally required to take an MOT (Ministry of Transport) test every year to check that it is road legal and safe to drive.

You'll need to take your vehicle to a garage, where a mechanic will carry out the test, which normally takes up to an hour.

If your vehicle passes, you'll receive a certificate with the test date and expiry date (when you’ll need to take the test again). This complete MOT checklist can help you prepare for the test.

There is no grace period with an MOT – once it is expired, you could face prosecution. You could receive a £1,000 fine if you drive your car after its MOT expiry date.

If you can’t find your certificate, then the Government has a helpful tool that can tell you when you need to go for your next MOT.

The myRAC app on the Apple App Store and Google Play lets you add reminders to each of your vehicles for important dates like your next MOT.

How much should an MOT cost?

According to the Government, the maximum fee for an MOT for a car is £54.85. For all other types of vehicles, prices range from £29.65 to £124.50. All fees can be found here.

MOT money saving tips

Set a reminder

Missing your MOT can lead to serious issues – and potential prosecution from the police – so set reminders.

Most modern mobile devices will have this function, or you can use apps like Google Calendar.

If you are a member of the RAC, then you can set reminders for your annual MOT – along with many other useful features – with the myRAC app.

If your test is coming up soon, book an MOT online today.

Do pre-MOT checks yourself

Throughout the year, your vehicle is more than likely going to need some sort of maintenance or repair. And staying on top of this can make a massive difference when it comes to saving money.

  1. Keep your car clean and clear of clutter, it'll speed up the checking process and help you identify any issues. That includes cleaning the number plate as it needs to be visible. A mechanic can also refuse to carry out an MOT if your vehicle is a mess.
  2. Check that your windscreen wipers are in good condition, with no tears in the rubber. This is a relatively cheap fix and leaving broken ones on your car can lead to more serious damage.
  3. Check that all lights are working correctly. It'll be easier if you ask someone to stand outside the car and confirm they all work properly for you.
  4. Check your tyre tread and pressure. This guide on tyre safety and depth will show you all you need to know.
  5. Make sure that all your fluid levels are topped up. That includes screenwash, brake fluid and oil.
  6. Finally, check that the horn works and all of your mirrors are in working order. Keeping up to date with regular car checks is the best way to prepare for an MOT.

If you're looking at booking a MOT, service, mobile mechanic, or anything else, check out our car care services.

Before you book your trip to the local garage, knowing what the most common MOT fails are can help you prepare.

Service, repair or MOT?

You can trust the RAC with our local approved garages and NEW mobile mechanics.

Service, repair or MOT?
Service, repair or MOT?

Check around for the best prices

This may be a simple piece of advice – but don't just accept the quote that the testing garage gives you! Although some of the big car repair chains may offer competitive rates, there are often smaller local garages that could provide the same service for less.

Since they rely on word-of-mouth and need positive feedback from customers more than the household names, smaller garages could give you a better deal and a better service.

Find an approved local garage near you.

Find a council MOT test centre

A potentially cheaper option when looking for an MOT is to try a Council MOT Centre.

Local councils across the UK own thousands of vehicles – all of which need an MOT test certificate to be road legal.

These garages purely focus on MOTs and not any repairs. Most do not perform any work on-site and must then be sent to a garage if any jobs need doing.

Council MOT test centres are also available to the public. They could be an alternative that may end up saving you money because these centres won’t benefit if any repairs are needed.

In principle, it means that the mechanic doing your MOT is likely to be more impartial over what work is needed to pass the test.

If you fail, see if you can retest for free within a certain timeframe

There are many reasons why a vehicle fails its MOT – some serious, and others just an easy fix away.

However, in some cases you can retake your partial MOT for free or a full one at a greatly reduced price. In all other cases, you will need to pay the full fee.

According to the Government: “You only need a partial retest if you leave the vehicle at the test centre for repair and it’s retested within 10 working days. There’s no fee for this.”

You will not have to pay for an MOT again after failing if you take it back to the same test centre before the end of the next working day.

Fixes that this applies to can include:

  • Battery
  • Bonnet
  • Doors (including hinges, catches and pillars)
  • Electrical wiring
  • Fuel filler cap
  • Horn
  • Mirrors
  • Registration plates
  • Seatbelts (but not anchorages)
  • Steering wheel
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system
  • Windscreen glass, wipers, and washers
  • Wheels and tyres (excluding motorcycles and motorcycles with sidecar)

If repairs are needed, look online to compare prices

After you've had your MOT test results back, you may find that you need some repairs or replacement parts.

If you now know what the issue is, have a look online to see if you can find cheaper parts (or labour) to get an MOT pass.

In some scenarios, you may find a better deal than what was on the initial quote from the garage.

Don't ignore previous advisories

Every year when you pass your MOT test, you'll get a list of ‘advisories’. These notes are given as warnings for future issues you may face with the vehicle.

Every driver who receives these at the end of their test should not ignore them – they could end up as a serious problem with a much larger bill at the end of it.

Advisories are a healthy reminder that something isn’t right – and leaving them until next year could end up leading to a failed MOT.

Address the problem now and save money in the long term.

Don't ignore dashboard warning lights

Fairly obvious one: but dashboard warning lights tell you that something's not right with your vehicle.

Look into what they mean, and what you need to do as soon as you can, but especially before your MOT is due. 

Check out our full section on car dashboard warning lights which includes manufacturer-specific guidance.

Consider splitting your MOT and service

If you're interested in getting an MOT and a service, then there are a few things to consider before booking.

Sometimes you can get money off by doing both at the same time, however in some situations, by leaving your car a whole year before getting it seen to by a professional can lead to problems developing into a costlier state.

The second option is to get your vehicle looked at midway through the 12 months of your MOT. Although this may be more expensive than combining them – it can catch any maintenance needed before they progress into a big issue.

You can keep on track with your car's maintenance by getting a service and MOT plan to spread the cost over two years. With ours, you can choose to split your service and MOT to make sure there are expert eyes on your motor regularly.

Benefits of servicing your vehicle

The annual MOT is a compulsory part of owning a vehicle – however, servicing it isn’t a legal requirement.

Despite this, it is vital to help keep your vehicle in top condition and to help retain its value – along with many other benefits.

These signs your car need a service should not be ignored. And by driving without servicing your car, you are opening yourself up to a larger bill later down the line.

Our car service checklist lets you know what is needed, how it can help you save money and keep your car in the best condition possible.

Don't be tempted to drive without an MOT

If your vehicle has failed its MOT – or you haven’t booked one in – then address this as soon as possible.

Driving without an MOT can lead to serious penalties. If caught, you can be fined £1,000 for driving a car without a valid MOT certificate.

If you choose to drive a vehicle deemed ‘dangerous’ by an MOT test, you can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving, and receive 3 penalty points.

Adjust your driving style and maintain your vehicle

In order to make your car last longer, there are a few tips that you should take advantage of. Here are a few easy things you should be doing regularly for the health of your vehicle.

Although these are all important – there is one more thing that all drivers should consider – driving with an MOT is not a guarantee for safety. You are still responsible for the safety of your vehicle and keeping it roadworthy.

In fact, a worrying survey found that almost half of drivers believe that a MOT pass means that their vehicle will be safe for the next 12 months.

Could the annual MOT be scrapped?

Earlier this year, there was a proposal to switch the MOT to a legal requirement that would happen every two years rather than every 12 months.

This was widely condemned at the time, and the majority of drivers believed that changing the MOT to every two years was a ‘dangerously bad idea’.

However, this has since been put on hold and no further announcements have been made. The MOT remains an annual event for drivers across the UK.

If your MOT is due soon or if you would like to book your vehicle in for a full car service, you can book online with your local RAC Approved Garage today.

We hope that his guide has explained everything relating to the annual MOT – leave your comments below if you have any other questions!

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