As UK motorists continue to adopt electric cars and many brand-new EV owners will be wondering how an electric car MOT test differs from the traditional MOT test.
In this comprehensive EV MOT guide, we investigate everything you need to know about electric MOTs. We’ll explore how an electric MOT compares to a petrol or diesel MOT. Plus a range of tips on keeping your green machine running smoothly and ensuring your EV remains in optimal condition to pass its MOT.
Do electric cars need an MOT?
Electric cars most definitely require an MOT test in the UK, just like their petrol and diesel counterparts. Electric vehicles undergo many of the same checks as traditional vehicles during an MOT, but there are some differences due to the unique components and systems found in EVs.
When will a new electric car need its first MOT?
In the UK, a new electric car will require its first MOT test when the vehicle is three years old. After that, MOT tests should be carried out annually to ensure the vehicle remains roadworthy and complies with Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) MOT standards.
If you are unsure when your EV’s first MOT is due, you can check using the gov.uk MOT history checker, just add your vehicles number plate and you will access all details about your vehicle, including the registration date and the date of the first MOT. You can even sign up to receive texts or email reminders for future MOT dates.
How are electric car MOTs different to petrol car MOTs?
There are a lot of similarities between an electric car MOT and a petrol car MOT. Many parts of the car will still need to be tested in exactly the same way, including the vehicle’s overall structure, the performance of the traditional brakes and the regenerative brakes, the suspension, the steering, the lights, etc.
There are also some key differences due to the unique components of electric vehicles:
- Emissions test: Electric cars produce zero emissions, so they are exempt from the emissions test that is a required part of an MOT test for petrol and diesel cars
- Exhaust pipes: Since electric vehicles don’t have an exhaust pipe, there’s no need to inspect one during an electric car MOT
- Fuel system: Electric cars do not have a fuel system, so any checks related to fuel tanks, fuel lines, and fuel filters are not necessary
- Engine components: Electric vehicles have quieter electric motors instead of internal combustion engines. As a result, there are no engine components to inspect
Additionally, electric vehicles have several components that are not found in petrol vehicles, these will all need to be tested for safety. These include:
- Electric motors
- High-voltage EV charging systems
- Cabling systems
Can I perform my own MOT on my electric car?
You absolutely cannot perform your own MOT on your electric car or any other vehicle. In the UK, MOT tests must be carried out by an authorised MOT test centre with certified and trained testers. Professional mechanics are qualified to ensure that your vehicle meets the required safety and environmental standards, this is not something you can do at home yourself even if you are a dab hand with the spanner!
While you can still use your own mechanic skills to conduct regular checks and basic maintenance on your electric car, it is essential to have the official MOT test performed by an authorised centre. Driving without a valid MOT certificate can result in fines and penalties, and it may also invalidate your car insurance.
How often does an electric car need an MOT?
After the first MOT (when the vehicle is three years old), an electric car needs to take an MOT test every single year.
How long does an electric car MOT typically take?
An electric car MOT typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour, similar to the time it takes to MOT a standard petrol car. Obviously the exact time it takes to MOT an electric car will vary depending on the type of EV, the condition of the EV, and how busy the test centre is on the day of the MOT appointment. Try and plan for at least an hour to ensure there is enough time for a thorough inspection.
What are the common issues that cause an electric car to fail its MOT?
Whilst there are plenty of issues that can cause both electric and petrol cars to fail an MOT (for example lighting, worn EV tyres, brakes, suspension, windscreen and wipers, steering), there are a number of common issues that might specifically cause an EV to fail its MOT:
- Battery and wiring: Faulty high-voltage cabling, damaged or insecure batteries, or exposed wiring can result in a failed MOT. While these issues can also affect traditional vehicles, the high-voltage systems in electric cars make them more critical. Any fault in the battery needs to be picked up early in order to protect the EV battery’s lifespan.
- Electric motor: Malfunctions or damage to the electric motor can lead to MOT failure. Unlike internal combustion engines, electric motors have fewer moving parts, but issues can still arise.
- Charging system: Problems with the charging system, such as faulty charging ports or damaged connectors, can cause a failed MOT.
- Battery management system (BMS): The BMS is responsible for monitoring and managing the health and performance of the battery pack. Issues with the BMS can lead to MOT failure, as it is a critical component in maintaining the safety and efficiency of the electric vehicle’s battery.
How much does an electric car MOT cost?
The cost of an MOT for an electric car should be exactly the same as a petrol or diesel vehicle. In the United Kingdom, the maximum fee for an MOT test for a car is set by the government and currently stands at £54.85 for cars and motor caravans, and £29.65 for motorcycles. So you will never pay more than this for a standard electric vehicle MOT.
Testing centres actually tend to offer lower prices than the government’s maximum, however, some may charge extra for additional services such as retests or repairs so make sure you discuss this with the MOT centre prior to the test and make sure there are no hidden charges.
What can I do to ensure my electric car passes its MOT?
We have a few tips you can follow to improve the chances of your EV passing its MOT.
Follow your EV manufacturer’s recommended EV service schedule, and be sure to deal with any issues as they arise. Regular servicing helps keep your electric car in optimal condition and reduces the chances of unexpected problems during the MOT.
Check your lights first
You can do this yourself and save money on an EV technician doing it for you! Check all exterior lights, including headlights, brake lights and indicator lights. Replace the bulbs yourself before the MOT test.
Check any warning lights
Make sure there are no obvious warning lights lit up on the dashboard that you could quickly remedy yourself.
What happens if my EV fails an MOT?
If your electric car fails its MOT, you will receive a VT30 ‘Refusal of an MOT Test Certificate’ from the test centre. The VT30 lists the reasons for failure, there are three reasons for failure: either ‘dangerous’, ‘major’, or ‘minor’ faults. Here’s what you need to do based on the type of fault:
If your EV has a dangerous fault, it is considered unsafe to drive. Don’t drive the car until the issue has been repaired. You can only drive it to a pre-booked repair appointment or back to a test centre for a retest.
These faults also mean you need to repair the vehicle ASAP, but the vehicle may be driven somewhere to repair it.
You can still drive your EV with minor faults, but it’s advisable to fix these issues as soon as possible to avoid the faults worsening or causing other problems.
Once the repairs have been made to your electric car you will need to have it retested. Some test centres offer a free retest within a certain period, usually ten working days, while others may charge a reduced fee for a partial retest.
What happens if I drive my electric car without a valid MOT certificate?
Not a good idea! Driving your electric car without a valid MOT certificate can result in plenty of issues, including:
- A fine of up to £1,000
- Penalty points on your driving license
- Invalidate your car insurance
- Your vehicle may be impounded
All in all, it’s best not to drive your EV if it fails its MOT.
Is it possible for an electric car to pass its MOT with a low battery capacity?
An electric car’s battery capacity is not currently part of the standard MOT test in the UK.
The MOT test is meant to test the safety of the vehicle, so it primarily looks at components like the braking system, lights, EV tyres, suspension, and steering. While a low battery capacity might impact the vehicle’s overall range and performance, it is not a determining factor for passing or failing the MOT.
Where to get a Tesla MOT in the UK?
Just like any other EV, you can get a Tesla MOT at a local MOT test centre. Many traditional garages now cater for EVs, including Tesla models. You can search for local MOT test centres using the UK government’s website, which allows you to find approved MOT centres by entering your postcode. Once you have chosen a garage to MOT your Tesla, give them a call and make sure they have experience with electric vehicles and understand Tesla-specific requirements.
What were the recent 2022 MOT changes?
The recent 2022 MOT changes introduced new defect categories and stricter standards for diesel vehicles with particulate filters. Defects are now categorised as ‘dangerous’, with DPFs implemented, and dashboard warning light defects are now considered ‘major’ faults.
What is a V112 Form?
The V112 form, also known as the Declaration of Exemption from MOT, is a form used in the United Kingdom to declare that a vehicle is exempt from taking an MOT test. This form does not apply to most electric cars, as they are still required to undergo an MOT test.
Which electric vehicles are exempt from MOT?
No new electric cars are exempt from MOT testing, they all need one. However, some electric goods vehicles, such as milk floats and electric tractors are exempt from needing an MOT. Electric tankers and electric lorries are not exempt from an MT test. Additionally, vehicles and motorbikes manufactured before 1960, including electric, petrol and diesel cars, are also exempt.
The final word on electric car MOT tests
Just like petrol or diesel cars, electric cars are not exempt from MOT testing in the United Kingdom. Once an EV is three years old it needs to pass an MOT test and will continue to need an MOT certificate every year.
Some electric goods vehicles are exempt from MOTs, but unless you are planning to use an electric milk float on the school run, you will need an MOT certificate for your electric vehicle.
The cost of an MOT test can vary depending on the testing centre and location, but you will never pay more than the government’s recommended minimum price of £54.85 for cars and motor caravans and £29.65 for motorcycles.
Most garages will accept EVs for MOT testing, but it’s a good idea to call and check in advance to determine if the garage has the relevant experience and equipment to carry out an EV MOT.
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John is the Editor and Spokesperson for Electric Car Guide.
With over 20 years of writing experience, he has written for titles such as City AM, FE News and NerdWallet.com, covering various automotive and personal finance topics.
John’s market commentary has been covered by the likes of The Express, The Independent, Yahoo Finance and The Evening Standard.