Van MOT essentials - what do you need to know?
Being a van owner and driver comes with legal responsibilities, so you need to be clued up on all things MOT. Read our overview to find out what's involved in a van MOT, why it's so important, and the consequences of not having one. Plus, get handy vehicle maintenance tips.
- The MOT – an overview
- Breakdown cover
- No MOT? How this will affect your insurance
- What should I do if my MOT expires – and where can I book a test?
- How much does a van MOT cost?
- What's checked in an MOT?
- How long is an MOT test?
- Your van's MOT results
- Advisory notices
- Disagreeing with MOT results
- Penalty for no MOT certificate
The MOT – an overview
When do I have to MOT my van?
Once your van is three years old, by law your vehicle needs to have a Ministry of Transport test, which most people abbreviate to an MOT test, or simply an MOT.
You can book one at https://www.gov.uk/getting-an-mot.
Why do I need to MOT my van?
The MOT test ensures that your vehicle meets the minimum acceptable environmental and road safety standards. An MOT is crucial for your van to be roadworthy. Without it, you can't tax your van, and without van tax or an MOT certificate, your insurance may not be valid.
The MOT only confirms that at the time of the test, your vehicle (without it being dismantled), did or did not meet the minimum acceptable road safety and environmental standards by law.
Even if your van passes its MOT, you might be surprised to discover the following:
- Your van is not necessarily roadworthy for the entire duration of the MOT certificate.
- The mechanical condition of your van is not guaranteed by having an MOT certificate.
- The engine, clutch and gearbox are not tested during the MOT.
These are important things to bear in mind, which we'll explain as we go on.
Many of the items checked during the MOT can and should be regularly checked by you throughout the year. This will not only ensure that you're up to date with your van maintenance, but it will also help your vehicle remain roadworthy.
Regular maintenance checks also mean that you're less likely to break down. Breakdown cover is still essential, but keeping your vehicle in good shape will give you extra peace of mind.
No MOT? How this will affect your insurance.
When your van's MOT expires, the insurance is still in place. However, most insurers will base your insurance off your van's roadworthiness. To prove that your van is roadworthy, you must have a valid MOT. Therefore, if you are involved in an accident and don't have a valid MOT, your insurance may be void. But you shouldn't be on the road without an MOT regardless.
What should I do if my MOT expires – and where can I book a test?
Once your vehicle passes its test, the MOT is valid for a year. The date it runs out is printed on your certificate, so you'll need to book another MOT before then.
You can check when your MOT expires online and can renew it up to one month before your existing MOT runs out.
Your van can be tested at any vehicle testing station. Just look out for the MOT testing logo, indicated by three interconnected triangles. To find your nearest testing station, search online.
Top tip: pop a reminder in your calendar the month before your MOT expires so you don't forget.
How much does a van MOT cost?
The government sets a maximum amount that MOT test stations can charge. This depends on the type and class of the vehicle. Most vans will fall into either class 4 or class 7. The maximum van MOT price is £54.85 for class 4 and £58.60 for class 7.
Gross design weight (GDW) determines the van's MOT class to a large extent although there are other considerations. For example, the cost of a Ford Transit's MOT for a model between 3,000kg and 3,500kg GDW will be capped at £58.60. While an MOT for the same model with a lower GDW, will be limited to £54.85.
Garages can and often do charge less than the maximum amount set out by the government.
What's checked in an MOT?
Your van will be tested in a specific MOT bay. The maximum fee to be paid should be displayed on a poster inside the testing station.
The following items are checked during the MOT:
- Body structure
- Fuel system
- Exhaust emissions and system
- Load security
- Registration plates
- Seat belts and seats
- Steering and suspension
- Tyres and wheels
- Vehicle identification number
- Wipers, washers and windscreen
As previously mentioned, this doesn't mean it's not important to carry out regular checks yourself. It can minimise the chances of breaking down and mean you're less likely to be the cause of an accident due to your van not being roadworthy.
How long is an MOT test?
Your MOT test should only take about an hour to complete, and in most cases, you should have your vehicle back the same working day. However, if your vehicle fails the test and you agree to the repairs, it will likely take longer. It may be worth booking your MOT on a non-work day to avoid any potential disruption.
Your van's MOT results
All test results are included in a central secure database. This database is now the only place that proves your van has a valid MOT. Your certificate acts as a receipt.
Pass – if your van passes its MOT, you'll receive an MOT certificate.
Fail – if your van fails its MOT, you'll receive a notification of failure.
You may also receive an advisory notice, letting you know about things that may eventually need fixing with your van. These notices highlight maintenance concerns that are not yet enough of an issue to cause your van to fail the MOT.
Disagreeing with MOT results
If you disagree with the test results, discuss this with the testing station before repairs are carried out.
It's possible to appeal against a failed test result within 14 working days. You'll need to submit a VT17 form declaring your full test fee. This can be obtained from the testing station, online or by calling VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Service Agency). Your vehicle will then be re-tested within five days. If your appeal is successful, you'll receive a new, valid MOT certificate and a full or partial refund of the test fee.
Penalty for no MOT certificate
If your van is of testable age and you don't have a valid MOT test certificate, then you're breaking the law and could end up with a ‘no MOT fine'. As of October 2016, you could receive a fixed penalty notice from the police, currently at £60, or a court fine of up to a maximum of £1,000.
In most cases, it's illegal to drive without an MOT. There would be an exception if you have an expired MOT and are driving to a pre-booked test at an authorised test centre. But be warned, you'll need proof of your appointment. Otherwise you'll face the same penalties as everyone else.
If you don't have a valid MOT certificate, you won't be able to tax your van. This may also invalidate your insurance.