History of the M-O-T Test
What is an M-O-T Test?
The M-O-T is a regular examination of the condition of cars and light commercial vehicles in mainland
Britain. It is required annually on all vehicles over three years old with one or two very minor exceptions –
small ‘breakdown’ trucks is one example.
History – and why it’s called the ‘M-O-T ’
Following the second world war and into the late 1950s most people purchased second hand cars and
light vans, many of which were originally manufactured before 1940 and vast numbers of which were not
in ‘tip top’ condition, nor were they regularly serviced. As a result there were numerous vehicles being
used on the road which were potentially dangerous. In particular they often had defective brakes, lights
As a result of this, in 1960 the then Ministry of Transport under the direction of the Minister of Transport Mr
Ernest Marples decided that all vehicles over ten years old should have their brakes, lights and steering
checked every year. This became known as the “ten year Test”, or alternatively the Ministry Of Transport
Test – which became shortened to ‘M-O-T . The Testable age was progressively reduced to 3 years by
Over the years the M-O-T Test has been extended and expanded to the comprehensive examination
which is today’s M-O-T Test. And the Test is developing all the time. Significantly since the 1990s has
been the development of highly sophisticated emissions Testing for vehicles with catalytic converters
A significant development of the M-O-T has resulted from Britain being members of the European Union.
All vehicle Testing is now decided by EU Directives which set minimum standards for vehicle Testing in
member states. Each state can, however, decide to install more stringent vehicle Testing regulations in
their own domestic regulations under the EU principle of subsidiarity. In many EU countries, for example,
Testing is carried out every two years – the basic EU minimum, whereas in Britain it is on an annual basis.
There are now approximately 19,000 Testing Stations in Britain and 50,000 M-O-T Testers.
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