An important aspect when considering buying a car is the MOT history, this gives an insight into the ‘health of a car and can be the determining factor in buying the car or not
So how do you check the MOT History of a car?
By using a free government database which records current and previous MOT data
What is an MOT
MOT stands for Ministry of Transport, this is an annual check to determine roadworthiness, exhaust emissions and overall safety of a vehicle and determine if it meets the required grade. An MOT is required on a vehicle every year once it reaches three years old in the UK and four years old in Northern Ireland.
What does an MOT Check
The check itself covers dozens of items such as brakes, suspension, lights, seat belts, tyres and mirrors, however, does not cover items such as the clutch and condition of the engine itself. However it’s not unusual for a mechanic to make not of an oil leak coming from the engine, or the car blowing unusual colour smoke.
How Much Does an MOT Cost
Prices can range, however, garages can only charge up to the maximum prescribed limit which currently stands at £54.85. You may find on average prices are a lot lower than this as garages like to charge lower for an MOT test to retain the follow-up repair service if required.
How to check the MOT History of a Car
- Go to https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history
- Press ‘Start Now’
- Enter the Registration of the vehicle you wish to check the MOT information for
- You will now see a information about the vehicle
From this screen you can now establish the following information:
- When the vehicle was first registered
- The current mot expiry date
- If you click the drop-down under ‘MOT History’ information on all previous MOT’s will now be shown
From this drop-down we are able to see some further useful information:
Date of the Test
This is in chronological order with the most recent being at the top
Result of Test
Displayed in either a Large GREEN Pass or a Large Red ‘ Fail’
Mileage at the time of Test
This is manually recorded by the mechanic from the odometer of the car
MOT Test Number
This is a unique reference number to this particular test
You can see exactly where the particular MOT test was carried out, however, you will need the 11 digit V5C (Logbook) number to obtain this information.
If the car has failed this particular MOT then the mechanic will have listed all the reasons why the car failed the test.
Advisory Notice Items
Not seen as a failure by the mechanic may list items here which may require attention in the near future, common ones here are tyres and suspension components
Scrolling down the list will list the same information for historical MOT tests the vehicle has had
NOTE: this system is only for UK registered cars, cars from Northern Ireland do not link to the database and no results will be found
If a car has not reached the required age for its MOT again there will be no information to display.
Why is This Information Useful
The information from the MOT database can be used in a number of ways when looking at purchasing a vehicle, let’s look at these in a little more detail
Length of MOT Remaining
If a car has recently had an MOT (within the last 1-2 months) and passed, you can feel confident a VOSA training mechanic has examined the car and it has met the required safety standard. However treat this information with caution as an MOT pass does not always indicate there are no faults with the vehicle such as engine, clutch and gearbox failures.
You will need to use the MOT information as a tool in company with your other checks.
If the vehicle in question only has a short time remaining on its Mot, again treat this information with caution as the vehicle would have been checked many months ago during which wear and tear and faults could have developed
We always recommend buying a vehicle with as close to 12 month MOT as possible, if the vehicle has a short MOT remaining we suggest either requesting the seller to obtain a new MOT as part of the terms of sale or factoring any potential costs in the offer you make.
It’s always useful to understand why a car failed the MOT, somethings may be very slight and obvious like bald tyres or minor suspension components needing replacing which sooner or later happens to all cars. However, there may be other more severe reasons a car can fail an MOT such as corrosion, faulty exhaust systems faults with the braking system etc
The good news about MOT failures is that they need to be addressed before the car passes the subsequent retest, so it’s safe to say if the car passed the following MOT the previous work would have been completed.
We recommend asking the sellers for invoices of more major work completed to a car to see if it was carried out by a reputable garage to the correct standards.
If you are looking to buy an ‘MOT failure’ car which is a car the seller does not want to fix and sell it how it is, be sure to check the exact reasons for failure to get an indication of the cost involved.
This is the one to pay close attention to, as the title suggests these are just advisory notices and DO NOT have to be fixed to obtain a Pass.
The mechanic would have noted that these items will need attention in the near future. It’s highly possible that today’s advisories can become tomorrow’s failures.
We highly recommend establishing if the advisory items have been repaired on the car (With proof) and if not then take in to account what these may cost you to put right before you make an offer of the car.
In conjunction with our guide on determining the correct mileage. You should use the database to establish any major mileage discrepancies. Each time a car comes into have an MOT the mileage is noted down. The mileage should increase yearly, however, any unusual spikes or dips in the mileage could be an indication of foul play.
Note: there have been occasions where mechanics at the garages have made mistakes in the mileage upon inputting it into the system manually. Be sure to check this with the seller before jumping to conclusions.
So you have learnt what an MOT test, is why it’s carried out and how to check the information in regards to one, It’s imperative to undertake this check before you consider purchasing a vehicle as it can give you a good projection of any potential issues that may be waiting for you around the corner. You should use this information as part of a pre-check routine in conjunction with some of our other articles.