Do classic cars need an MOT test

The law in the UK regarding MOTs changed in 2018. Prior to this, cars built or registered before 1960 were exempt from the requirement for an annual MOT, but in 2018, this ruling changed to define the scope of MOT exempt vehicles to those that were built or registered 40 years or more prior to the current date and which had not been subjected to any substantial changes within a 30 year period.

The reasoning for this rule change was on the basis that older vehicles are typically owned by enthusiasts who prioritise classic car maintenance and they are used on an infrequent basis, thereby posing a reduced risk to other road users. The changes also created an alignment with the point at which classic cars become road tax exempt.

Purpose Of An MOT

An MOT is an annual test of a vehicle's roadworthiness. All vehicles aged between 3 and 40 years must be inspected by an approved test centre annually to ensure that they meet all current standards of safety. At this point, all major safety items are checked, including the brakes, suspension, steering and tyres.

The test centre will also ensure that the seat belts, horn, speedometer and other electrical components are functioning as they should and will ensure that the driver's visibility is not adversely affected by perished wiper blades, a cracked windscreen or damaged mirrors.

The vehicle's emissions will also be tested to ensure that they are within legal limits.

Classic Car MOT

While cars over 40 years old do not legally need to be subjected to an annual MOT, the onus is on their owners to maintain them in a roadworthy condition, which is a prerequisite of every car insurance policy. Failure to maintain a classic car in a roadworthy condition could incur severe penalties, including fines of up to £2,500, a driving ban and 3 penalty points on the owner's driving licence.

Owners of classic cars often perform maintenance on their vehicles themselves and are competent at assessing tyre tread depth and braking performance and other routine aspects of maintenance, such as changing wiper blades. They may, however, need expert assistance to conduct more in depth repairs or restorations, and it is recommended that vehicles that are undergoing significant levels of restoration are tested and confirmed to be in a safe and roadworthy condition by a qualified mechanic prior to being used on the public highway.

In our experience, many owners of classic cars opt for voluntary testing on an annual or biannual basis to ensure that their vehicle remains in the best possible condition and will be safe for them to operate on the days that they see fit to do so.


Exemptions To Classic Car MOT Rules

If a classic car is over 40 years old but has undergone substantial changes within the last 30 years, it may not be exempt from the need for an annual MOT. Substantial changes are defined as a replacement chassis or bodyshell that is not of the same pattern as the original, alteration of the steering or suspension systems, alteration of the type of axles or running gear or a replacement engine with a greater cubic capacity or increased number of cylinders than that originally fitted.

Other reasons as to why a classic car may be considered to have been substantially changed include where it has been assigned a 'Q' registration number or if it has been reconstructed as or converted to a kit car, using components from a number of different vehicle makes and models.

The only exceptions are when these changes have been made due to the unavailability of original parts or the changes have been made to improve the safety, efficiency or environmental performance of the vehicle. The onus is on the owner to prove that this is the case, should they be challenged.

One change that classic car owners benefit from is the upgraded tyres that are now available to fit their vehicles. Many major manufacturers, including Pirelli and Michelin, offer tyres specifically designed for classic cars, but that incorporate the technological advances of modern tyres. These tyres outperform those originally fitted, with increased braking ability, more responsive steering and greater resistance to aquaplaning. Please contact your local Protyre to find out more.

Book an MOT for from £29.95

When your MOT is booked with any car service.