For most of us, getting the annual MOT check is just part and parcel of being a motorist. Not every vehicle on the road needs a MOT test though. If you understand the exemptions, this should help you work out whether your car falls into one of the exempt categories.
Historic and Classic Vehicles The main group of vehicles which is exempt from the MOT test are historic or classic vehicles. There is a firm legal definition of historic laid out by the government. For most cars and motorcycles, the exemption kicks in 40 years from the date of the car’s first registration. If however the car has been substantially overhauled in the past 30 years than that doesn’t apply. So for example, if you’ve bought the shell of a 50 year old car and put in a whole new engine, then it won’t qualify for the historic exemption.
Even if your car is too old to qualify for a MOT test, you have a legal responsibility to make sure it is roadworthy and safe. For this reason, many owners of vintage vehicles put them through an annual MOT test anyway. But that’s a decision which is up to you, and is purely voluntary. Discuss the possibilities with a local garage. You might also need guidance on whether changes you’ve made to your vehicle are enough to count as substantive changes for MOT purposes. There is extensive guidance online, but you might need the help of a mechanic to interpret the jargon. Other Historic Vehicles If you own a vintage bus, lorry or other large vehicle then different rules apply.
Vehicles first registered before 1960 don’t need a MOT test, unless they’ve been altered in the last 30 years. Take advice from a historic vehicle expert if you’re not sure whether your car qualifies. You still need to ensure that any vehicle is roadworthy if you’re going to use them on the public road. Steam powered vehicles are all exempt from MOTs, whatever their age. Electric Vehicles and Tractors If you operate electric goods vehicles such as a delivery van, you won’t need to put it through a MOT. The same rules apply to tractors, which are exempt from MOT tests whatever the age of the vehicle and irrespective of whether it’s sometimes driven short distances on the road. Electric and hybrid cars which are used on the public road will need a MOT test, but are exempt from the emissions and exhaust section of the test.
Private Land The other exemption is for vehicles which are purely driven on private land. If you’re a farmer who has an old truck which you use to get around the farm and never take it on the public roads, then you don’t need to get it an MOT. You don’t have to tax or insure it either, you just use it at your own risk. This also applies to other types of vehicles such as motorbikes or quad bikes as long as they are never taken on the road.