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Council MOT centres: the route to a hassle free MOT?

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.
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Getting your car MOT’d is essential. Without a valid MOT certificate, you can’t buy car tax or get insured. This situation puts test centres in a powerful position. 

We’re not suggesting that they abuse this situation, but if you prefer not to rely on a private business, you could opt to go to a council-run MOT test centre instead.

What is a council MOT test centre?

Councils typically own hundreds of vehicles, from waste collection lorries to buses, all of which must pass the same MOT tests as your vehicle.

Consequently, the sole purpose of most councils-run dedicated MOT test centres is to ensure that their vehicles are correctly MOT’d and fit to use on public roads.

However, council MOT test centres must also be accessible to the public and represent a good alternative to your nearest private garage.

In most cases, council test centres don’t perform repair work on-site; they only conduct MOT tests.

While this may seem an inconvenience, it’s an attractive arrangement that could save you money because, unlike private garages, the centres won’t benefit if your car has to undergo repair work.

Subsequently, they’re only likely to fail your car or recommend repair work if it’s necessary for your vehicle to pass the MOT test, which 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 counterparts.

Despite this, most welcome private customers as they represent additional business, which is 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 nor private garages are not allowed to charge whatever they like for carrying out an MOT.

Instead, there’s a maximum price set by the government for all MOT tests; although many centres offer a discount hoping that they will earn money from any repair work required.

The current maximum price for a MOT for a car that can carry up to eight passengers is £54.85 – you should not be charged more than this at any garage or test centre. Prices are lower for motorbikes and depend on the engine capacity.

Will the council MOT be cheaper than my local garage?

The upfront cost of a council test centre MOT may be slightly higher than that of a private garage that may charge less for an MOT in the hope that they’ll win your business for any repair work required.

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

Although you could pay a little more for the MOT itself at a council-run centre, you might save a substantial amount in the long run if it means you don’t have 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 and how long after the initial test you return for a re-test.

You won’t face a re-test fee if your car is left with the MOT centre that conducted the test, or if it’s returned the next day for repairs and a re-test. Indeed, many private garages will only waive the re-test charge (or reduce its cost) if you agree to have the repairs carried out by them within a predefined number of days.

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

If your car was tested at a council MOT centre, you can have a partial re-test for half the standard price providing that your vehicle is resubmitted for testing within ten 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’re 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 get in the following ways:

  • Print from the gov.uk website 

  • Complete one at your nearest MOT test centre

You can also appeal by calling 0300 123 9000.

Once you’ve done this, you will need to arrange a re-test with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVLA), 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?

MOT tests often fail vehicles on small faults that can easily be sorted before taking 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. If you identify any issues, get them sorted before taking your car 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, paying for the simple fixes and then having a re-test.

Car insurance is just one of the costs of keeping your car on the road along with tax, petrol and servicing, so cut your insurance costs by comparing the best deals for you.