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Do Classic Cars Need An MOT Check? Check Now

Kwik Fit | Friday 22nd January 2021 9:05am

Morris Minor classic cars lined up in a row

If youíre an owner of a classic car, you may be wondering what the regulations are around having it MOT tested, serviced, and taxed. The rules are not as straightforward as they are for a modern car, and there are many factors that could make your car exempt or non-exempt.

Below, weíve identified when a classic car still requires an MOT check, as well as when this is not necessary.

When does a classic car become MOT exempt?

Previously, the Department of Transportís regulations stated that any car that has been manufactured earlier than 1960 did not need an MOT check. In May 2018, the rules were changed and now any vehicle that is older than 40 years no longer needs to be MOT tested. This 40-year rule is a rolling date. For example, if a car was built in 1981, it will not require an MOT check from 2021 onwards. However, there are some exceptions to this rule, which weíve listed below.

A classic car thatís older than 40 years is not MOT-exempt until you have declared it as a Vehicle of Historic Interest (VHI). This can be done at your nearest Post Office by filling out a V112 form.

Ensure that you take your vehicleís logbook (V5C) and a valid MOT certificate from its previous test. This will also make your vehicle exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty (road tax), meaning you no longer need to pay it. However, even though no tax payment is required, the vehicle still needs to be registered for tax in order for you to drive it on public roads. When you apply to the DVLA for your Vehicle Excise Duty, you must declare that your vehicle is MOT exempt. They may require proof that your car is a VHI.

Why are classic cars exempt from MOT testing?

The reason generally given is that owners of classic cars tend to be hobbyists, who enjoy taking care of their car mechanically. A classic car still needs to be roadworthy, so you canít simply neglect a car and drive legally.

Driving, for example, with unsafe tyres, broken lights, or anything else that would usually fail an MOT is still illegal. The idea is that owners of classic cars will tend to be attentive to maintenance issues, without them needing to be flagged up in a formal test.

This is quite a generalisation, of course, but the purpose of the MOT test is to ensure the safety of everyone on the road Ė the relatively small number of classic cars on the road is therefore thought to be less likely to affect general safety.

When does a classic car need an MOT?

There are some circumstances in which your vehicle will still require an MOT check even if itís over 40 years old. For example, if you havenít declared it as a VHI, it will need an MOT test until it has been declared.

An MOT test is a requirement if your vehicle has been substantially altered in the last 30 years. There are some exceptions to this regulation, which weíve explained further below. Substantial changes include chassis or sub-frame replacements and adjustments to the type or method of suspension or steering. You may be unsure whether your vehicle has had such alterations. For example, they may have been made by a previous owner. In this case, you will still need to have the vehicle MOT tested until you can prove that it hasnít had alterations. If your vehicle doesnít contain its original engine, then an MOT check is required.

There are, however, some non-substantial changes that are acceptable if they were completed for good reason. These changes meet this criteria if:

  • They were made to preserve a vehicle and no original parts were reasonably available
  • They were made when the vehicle was in production or in general use (within ten years after the vehicle was no longer produced)
  • They were made to improve efficiency or safety (applies to axles and running gear only)

Buses and other forms of public service transportation will require an MOT check, even when theyíre past the 40-year boundary. Commercial vehicles that have more than eight seats will also require testing. This may include classic cars that are used at weddings. Other vehicles that still require an MOT include cars with a ĎQí prefix in the registration number, a kit car thatís assembled from different makes and models or a reconstructed classic vehicle. However, there are still exceptions to this rule. For example, if you have a kit car that hasnít been changed in over 30 years and has been taxed as a VHI, then it will be exempt from an MOT.

Just because your classic car is older than 40 years, this doesnít mean that you canít have it MOT tested. It may not be a requirement, but if youíd prefer to know that your car is working well and safe to drive, you can still take it for a test if you would like to. Itís also advised that your vehicle has a full service every year to ensure that there isnít anything seriously wrong with it that could cause danger to you or other drivers.

Unsure about your classic carís safety?

If youíre unsure about the condition of your classic car, or youíd simply like a professional to look it over thoroughly, put it in good hands at your local Kwik Fit centre.

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