If you're fed up with worrying about unscrupulous garages making your car's MOT a misery, turning to a council MOT centre could be the answer.

What is a council MOT test centre?

Most councils own hundreds of vehicles, like ambulances and buses, all of which must pass the same MOT tests as your vehicle.

Consequently the majority of councils run dedicated MOT test centres whose sole purpose is to ensure their vehicles are correctly MOT'd and fully fit to use on public roads.

Council MOT test centres must be open to the public as well as for council vehicles, so can represent a good alternative to your nearest private garage.

This is particularly the case as in most cases council test centres don't actually perform repair work on site; they simply conduct MOT tests.

While this may seem an inconvenience, it is actually a really attractive arrangement that could save you money because unlike private garages, these centres are unlikely to benefit if your car has to undergo repair work.

Subsequently they are only likely to fail your car or recommend repair work if it's necessary for your car to pass the MOT test.

This means you can trust them to be impartial when it comes to passing or failing your car's MOT.

Where can I find a council MOT test centre?

Council MOT centres are generally less well advertised than their private garage alternatives.

However, despite this, most welcome private customers as they represent extra business that's vital to keeping them running.

The easiest way to find your nearest council MOT test centre is to check your local council's website or contact your local council directly, although you can find a list of some of the UK's Council MOT test centres on the UK MOT website.

How much should an MOT cost?

Council test centres and private garages alike are not allowed to charge whatever they like for carrying out an MOT.

Instead there is a maximum price set by the government on all MOT test charges; although many centres offer a discount in the hope that they will earn more money through repair work.

The current maximum price for a MOT for a car for up to 8 passengers is 54.85 and you should not be charged more than this at any garage or test centre you choose.

You can check the current MOT price limits by visiting the Gov.uk website.

Will the council MOT be cheaper than my local garage?

The upfront cost of a council test centre MOT is often slightly higher than available from a private garage.

This is generally because private garages will charge less for an MOT cost in the hope they'll make more money from you overall by charging for the repair work they'll recommend.

As most council test centres don't conduct repairs on site they can't recuperate costs in the same way.

However, although you may pay a little more for the MOT itself at a council run centre, you could save a substantial amount in the long run if it means you avoid having to pay for unnecessary repair work.

Can I be charged for a re-test?

If your car fails its MOT and needs repair work, you may have to pay for a re-test once the work has been carried out, this will largely depend on the garage or MOT test centre you use.

Some private garages will waive the re-test charge if you agree to have the required work carried out by them within 10 days.

However while this may save you a little upfront you should still shop around for the cheapest place to get the repairs carried out so you don't end up paying more overall.

If you have had your car tested at a council MOT centre, you can have a partial re-test for half the standard price as long as all the work is completed and you car is resubmitted for testing within 10 days.

Therefore it always makes sense to double check exactly how much you'll be charged for a re-test whether you get your car tested at a council MOT centre or a private garage.

Can you appeal a failed MOT test?

If you are unhappy with the outcome of your car's MOT test, you can appeal To do this you will need to complete a VT17 form which you can either print from the Gov.uk website and send it to your nearest VOSA office or complete one at your nearest MOT test station.

You can also appeal by calling 0300 123 9000.

Once you've done this you will then need to arrange a re test with the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency, who will refund your fee if your appeal is successful.

Is there anything else I can do to keep the cost of an MOT down?

A large number of MOT tests fail vehicles on small faults that can easily be sorted before you take your car for an MOT, even if you aren't particularly car savvy.

These include:

  • Faulty windscreen wipers

  • Broken bulbs

  • Chipped windscreen

  • Bald or low pressure tyres

Even something small like a dirty licence plate could scupper your chance of passing an MOT, so make sure to check your vehicle for common faults and get any issues sorted before you take your vehicle for its test.

Taking the time to do this will be much cheaper than submitting your vehicle for a test, having it fail its MOT and having to pay for the 'repairs' and a re-test afterwards.