History of the MOT test


The MOT is the test, controlled by DVSA (the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) applied to vehicles over three years old (or one year in the case of HGV) to ensure they are roadworthy enough to get a ‘ticket’ for another year.

In 1960, under the direction of Ernest Marples, the then Ministry of Transport decided that all vehicles, over ten years old, should have their essential operating items, brakes, steering, lights, checked for their condition annually. This ‘test’ became known as the ‘Ten year test’ or the ‘Ministry of Transport Test’ which became shortened to the ever so familiar and scary MOT.

By April of 1967 the age of first test was reduced to three years, as it remains today.

Over they years the MOT test has developed and evolved to the comprehensive test that is performed on millions of vehicles annually to this day. Tests performed at over 19,000 testing ‘stations’ by some 50,000 qualified testers. It has been adapted over the years and even altered due to complaints of damage (do you remember when the tested would jab away at a rust patch on the chassis with a screwdriver? Now replaced with the equivalent of a toffee hammer and a light tap!).

Today it incorporates emissions testing which the failure of, can sometimes signify the final days of an older, less valuable vehicle, though never a Land Rover of course, they can always be fixed!

Britain, being a member of the European Union now comply with EU directives on vehicle testing that all member states must follow. Whilst the EU set a minimum standard for the test, member states can impose more stringent testing where they feel it appropriate. The EU for example, dictate that testing should be bi-annual where as the UK have them annually.


Nowadays the whole MOT system is computer based and as soon as your vehicle passes or fails, it is logged with VOSA, rather than the old system where paper copies were used and garages had to keep copies for a number of years. This is how, along with insurance details on a database, you can now easily tax your vehicle online with only minimal details and no need to ‘present’ all your documents, thought this is still a requirement if taxing in person. This computerised system is also available to the police and VOSA and when they do roadside checks they scan your numberplate and then check the system for insurance, MOT and tax details.


Whilst I’m sure we’re all aware of the pass or fail of an MOT, there is also what VOSA refer to as the ‘D-box’. This is where if a tester designates that one or more of the vehicle faults renders it dangerous to drive the note of this designation is written. Over 2,000 vehicles a DAY are designated by MOT testers around the UK as being ‘dangerous to drive’.

Don’t forget either, driving to or from a pre-booked MOT appointment is the only time you’re allowed on the public highway without road tax. Though obviously you still need valid insurance.