The MOT Scheme

The computerised MOT system run by VOSA and the requirements for MOTs.

The MOT scheme is primarily a road safety measure designed to ensure as far as possible that all cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles more than 3 years old

  • are properly maintained and;
  • at least once a year are examined at an authorised MOT test station to make sure that they comply with certain important requirements of the law

Remember – the test certificate relates only to the condition of the vehicle at the time of the test and should not be regarded as evidence of the condition at any other time; nor should it be accepted as evidence of the general mechanical condition of the vehicle.

The Computerised MOT Scheme

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) has now computerised the administration of the MOT scheme. This provides up to date information electronically in all aspects of the MOT enabling an improved service to the customer.

The benefits of the scheme –

Improved testing standards by:

  • providing accurate, up-to-date information for the MOT testing stations
  • collecting better information
  • monitoring test standards more closely
  • improving the quality of MOT documents

Reduced theft and fraud associated with MOT certificates by:

  • closer monitoring
  • tighter control of certificates
  • reducing dependence on paper certificates

Improved administration by:

  • passing information to and from garages electronically
  • automatically collecting and updating information
  • providing electronic ordering and payment systems
  • improving the way records are kept

Improved consumer protection and confidence in the MOT test by:

  • ensuring more consistent standards
  • enabling the general public to check if a vehicle passed or failed an MOT
  • improving protection and making it easier to detect fraud

How to check the MOT status of your vehicle

For motorists the main feature of the new system is that you can check the MOT status of any vehicle that you own, or are considering buying. You are able to do this either by calling our MOT status check service on 0870 330 0444 (national rate) or visiting the link below

If you are buying a second hand vehicle, and want to check its MOT status you will need the registration mark of the vehicle and either the test number from the new style MOT test certificate or the document reference number from the V5C registration certificate.

The system will provide you with certain key information including make, model and colour of the vehicle, together with the MOT status and expiry date of the valid MOT. The vehicle’s mileage recorded at the time of the MOT test will also be disclosed when you make your enquiry.

Checking the MOT history of your vehicle

In addition to MOT status, the facility to check the MOT history of the vehicle is also available. It provides full test details for all the tests undertaken on the vehicle since the system was computerised. Information relating to any advisory items recorded at the time of an MOT test together with the mileages recorded at each Computerised MOT test is also available as part of this service. We hope that this service will encourage motorists to obtain the test history of vehicles before buying so they can make a more informed decision on the suitability of the vehicle.

Appeals & Queries

What if you disagree with a Test Result? IMPORTANT – Do not carry out any repairs to your vehicle.

  • If you think it has wrongly failed; you must complete an appeal form (VT17) obtainable from any MOT test station, or the Inspectorate, and return it to one of our offices within 14 working days of the test along with a full test fee. We will then offer an appointment within five days to recheck your vehicle. If your appeal is successful some, or all, of the test fee will be refunded to you.
  • If you think it has wrongly passed; you must let us know as soon as possible. We will then offer an appointment within 5 working days to recheck your vehicle (without charge) provided not more than 3 months has elapsed since the time of the test for a corrosion defect. The address of your local VI office is displayed in the MOT test station

If there a problem with your certificate please ring the VI MOT Hotline number on 0845 600 5977. Calls are charged at local rate.

If you have lost or damaged your test certificate a duplicate or replacement certificate can be obtained from the MOT station where it was issued. If the MOT station is no longer in business your local VI office may be able to help provided you have details of where and when it was issued.

The Computerised MOT scheme

  • You can use the site to confirm the authenticity of an MOT Certificate issued using MOT Computerisation or check on the status of a recent test conducted on a vehicle or request the MOT Test history of a vehicle. You will receive the response to this request ‘on-line’ via your Internet terminal.
  • If the vehicle has an old style MOT Certificate that was not issued using MOT Computerisation, the site will have no record of the test and any queries concerning the certificate should be referred to the Vehicle Operator & Services Agency MOT Enquiry Service on 0870 33 00 444 (calls charged at the national rate – your call may be monitored or recorded for lawful purposes).
  • An old style MOT Certificate is completed by hand and is embossed with the stamp of the issuing testing station.
  • An MOT Certificate issued using MOT Computerisation is usually computer generated but may be handwritten under exceptional circumstances.
  • You may also have been issued with an ‘Emergency Test MOT Certificate’.

Bike basics

As with cars, if you are unsure about adjustment and maintenance to your bike it is always best to consult a trained service engineer; remember – SAFETY FIRST.

This guide is for solo bikes only. Motorcycles fitted with a side-car have separate regulations and requirements; you are advised to check with an official test centre if you have any doubts over the test.


Of the 20% failure rate on bike MOT tests, over half are for defective lights. These are amongst the simplest items for you to check before taking your bike to the test and are quite straightforward to replace or adjust, without the need of a mechanic.

Good Headlights and tail lights must be free of chips or cracks. The headlight must work on main and dip beam; the main beam must shine directly ahead and the dip slightly lower and to the left.

Indicator lights must all flash at a steady rate and the warning lights function properly.

If a hazard warning system is fitted, all 4 indicators must flash at a steady uniform rate.

Bikes must have a red reflector on the rear of the machine, either bolted on separately or as part of the tail light lens.


The next highest failure rate is due to steering. Look at the test items below and if you are in any doubt as to whether they will pass, consult a qualified service engineer.

  • With the front wheel raised off the ground the handlebar must not hit or foul the tank when the steering is fully turned lock to lock; the steering must move freely and without drag.
  • The handlebar must be securely mounted and the grips secure.
  • With the fork sliders held, try to push and pull on the forks; there must be no play in the steering head bearings.


In day-to-day riding there is perhaps no more important part of your bikes equipment that, when working properly, may just save your life! It is also the third highest reason for failure in MOT testing.

The examiner will:

  • Check the hoses for fluid leaks, bulges & cracking
  • Check disc brakes are securely mounted and free from cracks
  • Check ABS warning lights, where fitted
  • Check the wheel is free to rotate without brake drag in free-wheel
  • Check that brake pads/shoes are not warn beyond limits
  • Check the rear brake torque arm is secure and that fasteners are secured by self-locking nuts or castellated nuts with split-pins or R-clips

Wheels and tyres

Over one quarter of MOT test failures are due to worn tyres. Remember, safety first – worn tyres can kill! Here are the main items the examiner will check on the bike:

  • Cast wheels should be secure and free from cracks. Spoked wheels will be checked for broken, corroded, loose or bent spokes
  • The tyre and wheel must run free in free-wheel and they must not foul the suspension or the mudguards
  • Worn wheel bearings will fail and the front and rear wheels will be checked for alignment
  • Tyres must be compatible, suitable for road use and, if fitted with a direction arrow, fitted to spin in the direction of forward wheel rotation
  • Tyres will be checked for tread depth and condition as well as sidewall condition.


The tests for front and rear suspension are subtly different.

For the front suspension the examiner will check:

  • No oil leaks from anti-drive units
  • On bikes with swing arm suspension, there must be no free play in the linkage when moved from side to side
  • There should be no oil visible on the fork tube or leaking down the slider around the fork oil gears
  • The forks must be adequately dampened

For the rear suspension, the checks will be:

  • No oil leaks around the shock absorber
  • No play in the swing arm or suspension linkage bearings
  • Pivot bearings will be checked for wear
  • The shock absorber must give adequate damping
  • The suspension must not foul on body parts or accessories

Exhaust system

The decibel level will be assessed at the discretion of the tester. Other checks are:

  • The exhaust mountings must be secure and not fouling any part of the rear suspension
  • The exhaust must not be holed and be free from leaks from both joints and box(es)
  • Replacements units, other than bikes registered before 1st January1985, must have the BSAU 193 stamp

Final drive

  • The chain/belt must not have excessive slack and be in good condition; the guard must be secure and not fouling
  • On shaft drive bikes, the drive unit must be free from oil leaks
  • Both sprockets should be securely mounted and not excessively worn

More checks

In addition to the items mentioned above the examiner will:

  • Check that the HORN is of reasonable volume and a continuous single tone
  • Check for CORROSION on the frame and any load bearing components
  • The FOOTRESTS must have an anti-slip surface
  • All major components, body panels and mudguards must be securely fitted
  • The footrests, handlebar levers and brake pedal must be securely mounted