Is an MOT a Service?

To some, the difference between a service and an MOT may be fairly obvious, however many do not really know the key difference. As well as confusing an MOT for a service and vice versa, there are also a lot of misconceptions about what it means to have an MOT or a service carried out on your car. In this article, we will look at the importance of vehicle maintenance and the validity of your insurance without an MOT.

What is an MOT?

An MOT is an annual inspection of your vehicle that is required by law. It follows a strict checklist of criteria set out by the DVSA that determines if your vehicle is fit for purpose and in a roadworthy condition. 

Your vehicle may require additional work in order to pass your MOT but the test itself does not include any repairs or replacement parts.

During an MOT, a mechanic will check these areas for faults:

  • Vehicle identification number 
  • Registration plate 
  • Lights 
  • Steering and suspension 
  • Wipers and washer bottle 
  • Windscreen 
  • Horn 
  • Seat belts 
  • Seats 
  • Fuel system 
  • Emissions 
  • Body work 
  • Doors 
  • Mirrors 
  • Wheels and tyres 
  • Brakes 

In the UK, it’s a legal requirement to have car insurance and an annual MOT check if your vehicle is more than three years old. The test ensures the vehicle is safe to drive for a full year from testing, but it doesn’t mean the car is running as well as it could be.

What Is A Car Service?

In some ways, an MOT and service are quite similar and both include checks on your brakes, seat belts and tyres. However, a service is more thorough and includes the replacement or maintenance of some parts, such as the engine oil, to keep your car running smoothly. Other replacements can include fuel filters, air filters and spark plugs to further improve vehicle performance.

A car service is a vehicle inspection based on guidelines set out by your vehicle manufacturer rather than the DVSA. What is included in the service will vary depending on which garage you take your car to, but the main difference to an MOT is that checks will be much more thorough and focus on making your car run as well as possible. 

So, What’s The Difference?

Simply, an MOT ensures that your vehicle is roadworthy and meets the minimum safety requirements set out by the DVSA full stop. When you pass your MOT your car is road safe but may not be running in the best state. 

The aim of the service is to get your car into the best possible shape to prolong the life of your car. Without a car service, you may end up breaking down or causing damage to vital parts, but services are not compulsory.

Can You Drive Without An MOT?

Although it is a legal requirement to take your car for an MOT every year if your car is over three years old, your MOT centre is not obligated to remind you when your next test is. Therefore, it is advisable that you set some sort of reminder. 

Another piece of advice is to not wait until the day your MOT is set to expire to have your test. If your car fails you have to cope without a vehicle until it can be fixed or retested. Booking an MOT test in the month leading up to the testing due date is the best option as the past certificate can be dated from the expiry date of your previous certificate. This means you will not lose valid days of the year. 

So, to answer the question ‘can you drive without an MOT?’, no, you cannot. The only time you can legally drive without an MOT is when you're travelling to a pre-booked MOT appointment. 

Is Your Car Insurance Valid Without An MOT?

Without a current MOT, your car insurance would become invalid.  You run the risk of facing a £1,000 fine and a charge of six to eight penalty points on your licence by driving without one.

Something important to note is that if you have an accident and don’t have an up-to-date MOT certificate, you’ll be liable to cover the costs. This claim is likely to be much more costly than your missed MOT test.

Furthermore, if you are convicted of driving without a valid certificate, your insurance premiums could go up when it’s time to renew.

Why Should You Have an MOT and Service?

The reason why you should have an MOT is very simple - it is a legal requirement to have an in-date MOT certificate for your vehicle. Not only is it against the law to drive a car without an MOT, but your insurance will also become invalidated.

Is a Car Service a Legal Requirement?

Having a service is your choice and not a legal requirement, but there are some very valid reasons why regular servicing is essential:

Safety: Wear and tear builds up over time and just because your car feels okay, that doesn’t mean all is well. Regular servicing can highlight out-of-sight issues and provide peace of mind that your vehicle is now safe and roadworthy.

Increased resale value: When it comes to selling your car, evidence of regular servicing, by providing a full service history, is likely to attract more buyers who will be willing to pay a higher price for a well-maintained vehicle.

Money Saving: Avoiding a service will prove more costly in the long run than the upfront cost to get the service. Regular servicing can help to identify issues early on that could later become costly and expensive to rectify.

Increased vehicle lifespan: Regular servicing is crucial if you intend to keep your vehicle for a long time. The better you look after your car, the longer it is likely to last .