Why an MOT doesn’t always mean a car is roadworthy

I’m writing this post for all of those first time car buyers out there who are on a really tight budget. When I first started driving I was in the exact same position as you. After spending most of my cash on driving lessons and then trying to keep some in reserve for car insurance, I was left with a minimal amount of money to actually buy a car with. Inevitably a lot of the cars I ended up looking at were rusted old bangers, cars which to be honest didn’t look all that safe. A lot of them did have an MOT of say 6 months though so they must be safe, right?

An MOT is only really valid for one day  

Did you know that – when it comes to being a testament to a car’s roadworthiness – an MOT is only really valid for one day? “No it’s not” I hear you say, “MOT’s are valid for 12 months”. Well technically you’d be right, but are they really? As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I have a good friend who is a mechanic and this point came up in conversation when I first started searching for a car. I was looking at a Ford Fiesta that was really cheap and he asked if it was in good condition. I told him that I wasn’t too sure but I also said that it had a 6 month MOT, so it must be in ok condition, right? This is when he first told me that when you are buying a car that you would like to keep for a good few years, an MOT really isn’t worth the paper it’s written on, why? Because it’s only really accurate for one day, the day the test was done.

Let’s think about it. If you were to put your current car through an MOT test today and it passed first time with no work needed, that would be great. What would happen though if – while driving the next day – you hit a curb or pothole in the road, damaging some important mechanism on the car, would your MOT still be valid for the next 12 months? Yes. Would your car still be roadworthy however, probably not. Would your car also likely be in need of some expensive repairs? Quite possibly.

We can see then that even if a car has an MOT that is valid for the next 11 months and 30 days, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a safe and roadworthy car, a car that is in tip-top condition and unlikely to require any major repairs. Of course, it does add a degree of confidence and there is more chance that it will be in better condition than a car with no MOT at all, but it certainly is not a given.

Always check a car thoroughly

What is the lesson then? The simple lesson is to always do your own checks on a vehicle before you buy it, don’t just rely on the fact that it has a long MOT. Always test drive the vehicle and don’t feel embarrassed to take as much time as you need to examine the car before buying. Sometimes car owners or dealers can put you under real pressure or make you feel uncomfortable for taking your time when checking a vehicle but remember, it’s your hard earned cash you’re parting with so take as much time as you need.

Unless you are buying a brand new car or buying one on the day of its MOT, there are never any guarantees that a car is 100% roadworthy. Even with brand new cars we hear stories of recalls because of major and quite dangerous faults. If you take a little time, care, and advice though, you will certainly give yourself a much better chance of finding a car that will require less repairs and keep you safe for years to come.

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