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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 and/or
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 April
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 fitted.
A significant development of the M-O-T has resulted from Britain being
members of the European Union. All vehicle M-O-T 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 M-O-T Testing regulations in their own domestic regulations under
the EU principle of subsidiarity. In many EU countries, for example, M-O-T
Testing is carried out every two years – the basic EU minimum, whereas in
Britain M-O-T Testing 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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