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10 Ways to Save Money on Your MOT.

Top view of a male mechanic that is repairing a red car.

Arranging your car’s MOT test can sometimes feel a bit daunting. The uncertainty of whether your car will pass and the potential for a hefty repair bill if it doesn’t can definitely be stressful. To get started, contact a local approved MOT test centre, easily identified by a blue MOT sign.

Protyre Autocare offers a comprehensive list of common MOT failures, which is useful for anyone wanting to understand potential issues their car might face before the MOT. For instance, quick checks on your tyres at home can help ensure you are roadworthy.

The maximum fee for an MOT is £54.85 [1], but repairs and maintenance needed to pass the test can quickly add up, especially if your car hasn’t been well-maintained or has high mileage.

In this guide, we’ll share 10 tips to help you save money on your MOT while keeping your vehicle roadworthy, legal, and safe.

1. Use your driver’s manual to stay on top of maintenance

The first and most important tip is to ensure your car is well-maintained. A great way to avoid common maintenance problems is by finding your car’s service schedule and parts replacement intervals. Following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule outlined in the car manual can help spread out maintenance costs over time rather than encountering all expenses at once due to an MOT failure. 

Regular servicing and inspections by a qualified mechanic can help identify potential problems early, preventing more significant issues and ensuring the continued safety and efficiency of your vehicle. 

2. Check your lights before you take your car for its MOT test

According to data from the RAC [2], nearly a fifth of all cars fail their MOT due to faults with their lights, making this issue the most common reason for failure. Ensuring your car lights are in working order is a simple yet effective strategy to save money during your car’s MOT test.

 If you spot any non-functional lights, you should replace them straight away. Here is a list of those you need to check: 

  • Sidelights
  • Dipped beams
  • Main beam 
  • Fog lights 
  • Front indicators (left and right) 
  • Brake lights 
  • Reversing lights
  • Rear indicators (left and right)
  • Hazard lights

Having someone lend a hand from outside your vehicle during a light inspection is ideal, but this might not always be an option. To check your lights whilst on your own, turn on the lights mentioned in the checklist and complete a walk-around of the vehicle ticking off each light as you go. 

Make sure the handbrake is applied whilst out of the vehicle and consider starting the engine to activate all lights. If you find that some bulbs need to be replaced, opting to order parts and replace the bulbs yourself could be a more cost-effective solution. Need help changing a bulb? Check out this 4-Step Guide

3. Reduce wear on your brakes by driving smoothly and safely

According to the RAC, brake issues are the third most common cause of MOT failure [2], and you will need to regularly check our vehicle’s brakes and make sure they are well maintained to remain safe on the road. You can make your brakes last longer by driving smoothly and avoid any sudden braking. 

Braking suddenly will cause significant wear on your brake pads and if this happens often, you’re more likely to need a new set of brake pads earlier than you anticipated. 

4. Check your tyre tread

Tyres can be a costly expense, especially if you’re not expecting that cost on the day of your MOT test. To pass an MOT test, your car must have at least 1.6 millimetres of tread on each of its tyres – anything less than this can result in an immediate failure, even if the rest of your car is in perfect condition. 

A simple way to check your tyres is the ’20p coin trick’. All you need to do is push a 20 pence coin into your tyre tread and check to see if the outer edge of the coin is visible. If you can see the rim of the coin, make sure you replace your tyres before your car’s MOT.   

5. Check your tyre pressure

Ensuring your tyres are properly inflated can significantly extend their lifespan, even though they’ll eventually need replacing there are things that you can do to preserve the tread. If you need help checking your tyre pressure, follow our guide on how to look after your car’s tyres.

Keeping them at the correct pressure not only preserves the tread but also optimises fuel efficiency. Remember to check tyre pressure monthly; under-inflation reduces speed and increases fuel consumption, while over-inflation accelerates tread wear, making more frequent replacements.

Person checking the tyre pressure on a car with a handheld tyre pressure monitor.

6. Get your car maintained at a trustworthy local garage

As we have mentioned, the key to ensuring your car passes its MOT with flying colours, is maintenance, although this can get expensive. If you currently receive car maintenance services at the dealership, you may be able to save money by taking it to a trustworthy local garage. 

You may want to ask your friends and family for recommendations, or you can use Who Can Fix My Car to search online for garages in your area and compare prices to find the best deal for you. 

7. Need extensive repairs? Compare the price for parts online

If your car fails its MOT, and the garage quotes you a high price for parts and repairs, make sure to ask for a full parts invoice. You might be able to save a significant amount of money by purchasing the parts online and having them shipped to you. 

Many common engine parts can be found online, often at prices far below what your local garage charges. Most garages will be happy to fit parts you’ve purchased online and will only charge a labour cost, potentially saving you hundreds of pounds. 

8. Failed your MOT? Take your car elsewhere for a second opinion

While an MOT test involves objective and measurable checks, such as the required tyre tread depth, some elements are subjective meaning the outcome of your MOT test could be based on the inspector’s judgement. 

Subjective factors in an MOT test may include the condition of components, such as tyres, brakes, suspension, lights, and bodywork, the extent of wear and tear, corrosion and rust, the effectiveness of repairs, and the environmental impact of the vehicle. 

If your car fails due to a subjective issue despite being in good condition overall, consider seeking a second opinion from a different garage. This could potentially save you from unnecessary maintenance costs. However, note that some garages offer a free retest if you opt for repairs with them. 

For a fair assessment, consider taking your car to a council-operated MOT centre. These centres have no vested interest in finding faults for profit, ensuring a more impartial evaluation of your vehicle’s compliance. 

Two examples of MOT test certificates, next to a small, blue model car.

9. Keep detailed service records so potential problems

The sooner your car’s problems are noticed, the more affordable they are to fix. What may seem like a minor concern can soon escalate, especially with complicated parts such as the gearbox or the engine.  

Maintain thorough service records for your car, including notes from mechanics. This documentation assists your local MOT centre in identifying potentially expensive problems early and saving you from expensive repairs down the road. 

10. Get an extended warranty to avoid expensive repairs

Almost one in five motorists have considered giving up their car in the past year due to rising costs [3] but there are ways to manage motoring costs effectively and you can look at the most common reasons that vehicles fail their MOT test here. To help budget for any potential repair costs, an extended warranty can offer peace of mind. With an extended warranty, you can take back control of your finances and relax knowing that everything is taken care of should something go wrong*.

Warrantywise offers MOT Failure as part of your Car Warranty, which is designed to provide the repair cost of included parts which have failed the DVSA  annual MOT test, together with the cost of any re-test free. Start your quote today. 

Disclaimer

The advice provided in this blog is for informational purposes.  Every vehicle is unique, and individual circumstances may vary. Always consult a professional mechanic for personalised guidance and maintenance and repairs on your vehicle. 

Sources

[1] https://www.gov.uk/getting-an-mot/mot-test-fees, Government website, accessed 26th March 2024.  

[3] https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/one-five-motorists-considered-giving-32393347  One in five motorists considered giving up their car in the past year over rising costs, The Mirror, accessed 26th March 

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