Get an MOT for less

Portrait of a mechanic servicing a car at his workshop,his colleague holding clipboard.

If your car is of a certain age, an MOT is a necessity if you plan on keeping your vehicle on the road, and it can end up being expensive. These simple tips will help to keep the cost to a minimum.

Do your own MOT
You might not be able to give yourself the all-important certificate, but performing a quick DIY MOT before you book into the local garage could save you some cash. There are seemingly small things that will cause your car to fail, but many are easy to fix yourself. With a little help from a friend, check all your lights are working properly, including indicators, check tyre pressure and tread, top up fluids such as windscreen washer, oil and brake fluid, and check windscreens and wipers for any potential damage. These little things can be easily remedied, but could mean a failed MOT, so prepare ahead of time and you can get the small problems fixed first. Getting a full service is also a good way to find out if there are any potential fails, but it's wise to do this a couple of weeks before the MOT and get a list of advisories. That way you can choose where you get your car fixed before you go ahead with the test.

Choose the right test centre
Which test centre you choose largely depends on the general condition of your car. Cars having their first MOT, for instance, are likely to be in good nick and therefore unlikely to fail. That means you can search for those cheap and discounted MOT deals. If it's in reasonably good condition but may need a few repairs, then a test centre that doesn't carry out repairs in house might be the best-priced option, since there is less incentive to 'find' repairs that need doing. But if your car is in bad shape and pretty much guaranteed to fail, then a test centre that does carry out repairs might just win on the convenience factor. Where the repairs are done on site, you'll probably get the retest for free.

Find a council-run centre
Many councils around the country have their own MOT test centres for council vehicles such as buses or vans, but the law says these centres must be open to the public. They generally don't do repairs on site, which means that incentive to find faults that don't exist is not a factor, and the pass rate is often higher, and the repair work needed a good deal lower. To find your local centre, try the likes of Money Saving Expert or

Free retests
If your car does fail its MOT, there's not only the cost of repairs to worry about, but also potentially the price of a retest, which can be charged at the maximum rate as the original test if you're not careful. There are ways around this added cost though. Private garages that do MOTs often do the repair work too, and if that's the case, once you've instructed them to carry out the repairs, they'll retest for free as long as it is done within ten days, though it's best to check that this is the case before you book in. Even if your test centre doesn't carry out repairs, provided you can get the work done and return the car to the test centre by the end of the following working day, you can still get your retest for nothing. Do remember, though, that not all failure points will allow you to qualify for a free retest, so once again, make sure you check with the test centre.

Those lucky enough to find a council-run centre, where you'll generally need to get your repairs done elsewhere, can get a half price partial retest provided the repaired vehicle is returned within ten working days.

When booking your MOT, remember that the best deals aren't always as attractive as they look, since there is often an incentive to find a fault. But there are also many highly reputable and reliable garages out there, often the little independent round the corner, that are honest. If you're not happy with the service you had last time, try somewhere else.

Have you saved money on your MOT? What advice would you give to others? Leave your comments below...
Rules and Regulations for the MOT Vehicle Inspection