How to save money on your MOT

Nobody wants to waste money on a retest – find out how to increase your car’s chances of passing its MOT test first time and what you can do to cut the costs.

Amy Smith
Amy Smith
Updated 22 March 2021  | 2 min read

Compare and save on your car insurance

Start a quote

How do I save money on my MOT?

Lots of us dread the annual outlay that often accompanies our MOT test. Although the test itself is relatively inexpensive, a fail can mean paying for remedial work and maybe even another test.

Buckle up! It's MOT test day...

But there are a few ways you can reduce the cost of the MOT. Here's what you need to know to save money...

1. Check for offers and deals

Although garages were considered an essential service during the Covid lockdowns, most had to seriously reduce operations. But with the extensions to MOT deadlines at an end, there's now a glut of customers needing their MOTs and garages are keen to win back business.

That's good news for you, because it means there are deals to be had.

The maximum price of a car MOT is £54.85, but shop around locally and see what you can find. There might be deals for a cut-price or free MOT when you get a service at the same garage.

2. Get your vehicle a service before the test

Spending money now to save later might sound odd, but a service can find and fix many problems before they become MOT fails.

Depending on whether you pick a full of partial service, what’s checked usually includes: 

  • Engine oil and oil filter
  • Lights, tyres, bodywork and exhausts
  • Brakes and steering
  • Fluid and coolant levels
  • Suspension
  • Battery

Parts that are worn or damaged will be replaced, and any fluids that are low will be topped up. 

Some of these fixes – such as topping up the oil – will be included in the cost of the service, but bigger or unexpected repairs, like replacing the battery or dealing with corrosion, will cost extra.

The most common MOT fails

According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) data , the top major and dangerous defects that would have led to MOT failure for cars and light vans were:

  • Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment – 27%
  • Suspension – 18%
  • Brakes – 17%
  • Tyres – 12%
  • Visibility – 8%
  • Body, chassis, structure – 7%
  • Noise, emissions and leaks – 6%
  • Steering – 3%
  • Seat belts and supplementary restraint systems – 2%
  • Identification of the vehicle – <1%
  • Road wheels – <1%

3. Prepare your vehicle

There are some easy pre-MOT checks  you can do to give your vehicle the best chance of passing. For example, make sure the: 

vehicle is clean and tidy – an MOT tester can refuse to begin the test if a vehicle is too messy

  • access is easy – check the windows, doors, the boot and bonnet release work
  • battery is charged – it’ll usually have an indicator or ‘sight’ window, which should be green
  • tyres are grippy and correctly inflated – they should have more than 1.6mm of tread depth and be at the right pressure
  • brakes and handbrake aren’t stuck – if you think this has happened don’t drive the vehicle, instead get in touch with your mechanic
  • wipers aren’t damaged and work smoothly – check the windscreen wash reservoir to see if it needs topping up

Let our mechanic show you a few more handy checks you can do at home...

you can get an MOT at a council-run test centre – they have no reason to charge you for extra ‘necessary’ work"

4. Choose the right garage

The government sets the maximum price limit for MOTs,  but most garages charge less than this or have special offers, so it’s worth comparing a few places.

It’s not always best to go for the cheapest price though –  if you can, use a garage that you know is reliable or somewhere that’s been recommended to you.

Alternatively, you can get an MOT at a council-run test centre – they have no reason to charge you for extra ‘necessary’ work. But some don’t offer a full repair service, so this might only be practical if you’re confident your vehicle will pass.

If your vehicle fails its MOT it’ll need repairs and a full or partial retest. You might not be able to drive it to another garage, so it’s important to pick the right one.

You can check the cost of most repairs online, to help you make sure you’re not overcharged.

Frequently asked questions about MOTs

Your MOT questions, answered.

What’s the difference between a full or partial MOT retest?

A partial retest will only check those issues listed on the 'refusal' of an MOT document (VT30) to make sure they’re fixed. 

If your vehicle takes 10 days or more to repair or if it fails the partial retest, then it’ll need a full MOT test again. 

How much are MOT retest fees?

If your vehicle is repaired within 10 working days at the same place you had your MOT, you won’t need to pay anything for a partial retest.

There’s also no partial retest fee if you take the vehicle elsewhere for repairs and bring it back to get a partial retest at the same test centre by the next working day. This only applies to a certain list of retest checks though.

If you take the vehicle away for repairs and get it back to the same centre within 10 working days you'll be charged the partial retest fee. 

In all other cases you will need to get a full retest which means paying the full MOT test fee again.

Find out more about retest fees.

GoCompare uses cookies. By using the website you agree with our use of cookies.