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Tips & advice

How to check a car’s MoT history online in 4 easy steps

A car’s MoT history can give insight into how well it’s been looked after, and finding this information is easy.

Mot testing centre sign

Let’s be honest, most of us dread MoT test time. This rigorous vehicle check is crucial, as it ensures that a car is roadworthy for another year but when it’s your car going under the inspection lamp, there’s always nagging doubts over whether it will pass or fail. Put that MoT stress to one side and there’s no denying that a car’s MoT status and history are a vital information for car buyers and sellers.   

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If you’re eyeing up a potential used car purchase, checking a car’s MoT history can give an idea of the level of care it's received over the years. Knowing this could then help you to avoid ending up with a neglected money pit.

A car’s MoT history will reveal the date of every MoT test that it has undergone, and whether it failed or passed. You’ll also be able to see a list of advisories or reasons for failure and so will potential buyers when the time comes to sell your car on. It’s all very useful information, and the best news is that it’s free to access and easy to find.

Where to find a car’s MoT history

There are many websites that offer an MoT history checking tool, but the most direct source is GOV.UK. The Government’s MoT checker gets its data directly from the official Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) database, so it should be fully up to date (although brand new MoTs can take a few days to appear).

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You can carry out a basic check on any vehicle, all you will need is the registration number.

Vauxhall MOT Test Insurance

Carrying out a check will provide detailed information about a car’s previous MoT results, including the dates of all previous tests, the MoT test number, the mileage on the odometer when it was tested and, most importantly, whether or not the car actually passed. If you already own the vehicle, you can also provide the V5C vehicle log book reference number to see the location where each test was carried out.

MoT checker: step-by-step guide

  1. Open the Government’s MoT history checker tool.
  2. Click ‘Start now’.
  3. Type in the registration number of the car you wish to find out about.
  4. Next, you will be greeted by a page displaying all the MoT information about the car going right back to its first test.

What to look for in a car’s MoT history

If a car has failed an MoT at any point in its life, the word ‘fail’ will be displayed in large red lettering, which is difficult to miss. Underneath, there will be a list of the reasons for this failure. Any defect which has caused an MoT failure must be repaired immediately, as it has been deemed dangerous.

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If the car has passed, the word ‘pass’ will be written in green. Be careful, though, as just because a car has passed an MoT, this doesn't necessarily mean that it’s without fault. If a car has been given any advisory notices, these will also be displayed on the history report. 

Defects such as worn tyres that are close to the legal limit, worn brake pads, or corrosion are some examples of common advisories. If you can’t see any advisories written down, the car has passed the test with flying colours.

If the same advisory appears in several tests or has been allowed to deteriorate into a cause of failure, this could be a warning sign that a previous owner wasn’t too bothered about car maintenance.

By checking the car's MoT past and mileage intervals between check-ups, you may be able to tell if the seller is hiding any lingering faults, and also sniff out any signs of car clocking. The car’s service history should also help to back-up its current mileage.

And for those needing to know when the roadworthiness of a car will need testing again, the website will also tell you when the latest MoT certificate runs out.

If you want to do some further research, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) also has its own online tool that allows users to see further details about any registered car. This service allows users to see when the vehicle was first registered, what its CO2 emissions are, the tax band it sits in and when the next tax payment is due.

Auto Express has partnered with our parent company Carwow to bring you a fast and easy way to sell your car. Sell your car here...

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Shane is responsible for looking after the day-to-day running of the Auto Express website and social media channels. Prior to joining Auto Express in 2021, he worked as a radio producer and presenter for outlets such as the BBC.

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