How Early Can You MOT a Car Before Expiry?

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How Early Can You MOT a Car Before Expiry?

First published on: December 29, 2023

In the United Kingdom, all vehicles over three years old are subject to an annual MOT test to ensure they’re up to scratch with key road safety and environmental standards.

Now, if you’ve found yourself wondering, “How early can I MOT my car?” you’re not alone.

This common question often crosses the minds of car owners as the annual MOT test approaches.

In this comprehensive guide, we aim to shed some light on this topic, providing you with a clear understanding of the MOT process, when you can conduct it, and the implications of testing your car early.

How Early Can You MOT a Car?

Technically, you could take your car for an MOT test at any point during the year, not just when your current MOT certificate is nearing its expiration date. The critical detail, though, is that your new MOT certificate’s validity begins from the day of the test, not from when your previous certificate expires.

To put it into perspective, let’s say your existing MOT certificate expires on 1st June. You decide to be an early bird and schedule your MOT test for 1st April. The new certificate you receive from this early test will only be valid until 1st April of the following year, not 1st June, as you might have assumed.

You might initially think, “Hang on a minute, I’ve lost two months of validity by bringing my MOT test forward!”

Well, that’s not entirely the case.

There is a small step that allows you to extend your MOT certificate’s validity essentially to 13 months.

If you have your MOT test carried out a month (minus a day) before the due date, the certificate remains valid until the original expiry date of the next year.

For instance, if your MOT is due on 15th April, you can have the test done on 16th March. The certificate will then be valid until 15th April of the following year. This effectively gives you an additional month of validity.

Also Read: What will Happen If Your Car’s Wheels are Unbalanced?

Can I MOT My Car 3 Months Early?

Absolutely yes! You can take your car for an MOT test at any point during the year. However, remember that the new certificate’s validity commences from the day of the test, not from the expiration date of your current certificate.

To put this into context, imagine if your MOT is due on 1st December and you decide to get ahead of things and take your car for an MOT test on 1st September. Rather than being valid until the following December, your new certificate would only be valid until 1st September of the next year.

So, it might be prudent to plan your MOT testing in line with the original expiry date to maximise the validity period of your certificate.

If I Take the MOT Test Early and It Fails, Can I Still Drive Until The Old MOT Expires?

The answer is no. The moment your vehicle fails the MOT test, your current certificate becomes null and void.

The law is clear, if your vehicle is deemed unfit for the road after an MOT, you are no longer allowed to drive it, even if the original MOT hasn’t yet expired. This is to ensure the safety of all road users.

After all, an MOT test is a vital check to confirm your car meets the required safety and environmental standards. If it doesn’t, it’s time to get those issues addressed immediately.

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How Can I Check My Vehicle’s MOT History?

Checking your vehicle’s MOT history is straightforward, thanks to the Government’s online tool that shows you how to check MOT online.

Here’s how you can do it:

  • Visit the Check MOT Tool by GOV UK
  • Enter your vehicle registration number into the designated field.
  • Hit ‘Enter’ or click on the Continue button.

The result page will provide you with a host of information, including:

  • All the previous MOT results, specifying whether the vehicle passed or failed the test.
  • The mileage recorded at the time of each test.
  • The due date for the next MOT test.

You also have the option to download a copy of the current and previous MOT certificates. This service provides a comprehensive record of your vehicle’s MOT history, helping you keep track of its performance and maintenance schedule.

What If I Drive My Vehicle Without a Valid MOT?

Driving your vehicle without a valid MOT certificate is a serious offence in the UK, and the penalties can be severe:

  • First and foremost, if your car is new and less than three years old, you’re generally exempt from requiring an MOT. However, once your car reaches the three-year mark, an annual MOT becomes a necessity to ensure the vehicle’s safety, roadworthiness, and emission levels.
  • Should you be caught driving without a valid MOT, you could face a fine of up to £1,000. This fine is not to be taken lightly, as not having a valid MOT also invalidates your insurance. Thus, you could potentially be committing an even greater offence of driving uninsured.
  • The penalties become even harsher if your vehicle is considered ‘dangerous’. In such cases, you may face fines up to £2,500, receive a driving ban, and be awarded 3 penalty points on your license.

The objective of these penalties is not to penalise drivers but to ensure the safety of all road users by maintaining the highest standards of vehicle safety on UK roads.

Why You Should Go for Early MOT?

Here are a few reasons why going for an early MOT can be beneficial for you:

  • Peace of Mind: If you’re the type of person who prefers to have everything sorted in advance rather than leaving it to the last minute, then going for an early MOT is for you. It takes away the stress of potentially forgetting to book the test and driving around illegally with an expired certificate.
  • Avoiding Penalties: By having your MOT done early, you can ensure that you’re not driving illegally and at risk of attracting hefty fines. Driving without a valid MOT could lead to fines of up to £1,000, or even more if your vehicle is deemed ‘dangerous’.
  • Selling Your Vehicle: If you’re in the process of selling your car, arranging an early MOT can save you time and money. If your vehicle’s current certificate expires during the sale process, an early MOT ensures that the vehicle remains roadworthy and legally drivable, avoiding potential delays in the sale.
  • Long Journeys or Holiday: If you’re planning a long road trip or a holiday that involves driving your own car, it’s advisable to get an early MOT done. This will ensure that your vehicle is in top condition, safe for travel and that you’re not at risk of breaking down due to easily preventable issues that an MOT would have identified.

By scheduling your MOT test early, you’re not just complying with the law – you’re ensuring peace of mind, convenience, and safety.

Our Verdict

Ensuring you’ve scheduled your MOT in advance isn’t just about crossing off another task on your to-do list, it’s about being proactive, safety conscious, and legally compliant. Whether you’re planning to sell your vehicle, preparing for a long journey, or simply want to avoid the last-minute rush, arranging your MOT early is a sensible choice.

We hope our guide has clarified how early you can go for your MOT – be it 3 months or just 1 month in advance.

Don’t forget, the MOT isn’t a hassle but a protection measure for all road users, including yourself.

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