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What is checked on an MOT and service?

We all accept it’s something that comes as part and parcel of owning a car, but do you know exactly what is checked on an MOT and service? They’re designed to keep our vehicles in tip-top shape and safe to drive, but not everyone understands what goes on once you hand over the keys to the mechanics.

They play an essential role in the maintenance of our vehicles and regular, thorough checks can help to ensure that you prevent those pesky dashboard warning lights flashing up. But what’s the difference between an MOT and a service? How much do they cost? How long do they take? And is it better to service your car at the dealer? We’re here to answer all your questions in our handy guide.

What does MOT stand for?

Many people assume the ‘T’ stands for ‘test’ but MOT is actually an acronym for Ministry of Transport, which was in charge of the roads when these checks were first brought in more than 60 years ago.

What’s the difference between MOT and service?

There is also a misconception among some that an MOT and a service are the same thing – but that is not the case. An MOT is a legal requirement for cars over three years old, and you are not allowed to drive on the roads without a valid certificate. An MOT test is carried out every year to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy.

A service, on the other hand, is not required by law. There are usually different levels of service in terms of how extensive the checks are, and the details of these will normally be decided by the manufacturer. The idea of a service is to deal with any wear and tear to your vehicle and keep it in the best possible condition.

What is checked on an MOT?

An MOT test will check many different parts of your car, including:

  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Lights
  • Doors
  • Wheels
  • Tyres
  • Bodywork
  • Suspension
  • Mirrors

If anything receives an advisory, it means your vehicle has passed the MOT but there are some issues that may get worse. If your MOT turns up any dangerous or major faults, your car has failed and they will need fixing before you can legally return to the road. You could be fined £1,000 for driving without an MOT and if you drive a car that has been deemed to have a dangerous fault, that could rise to £2,500.

What does a car service include?

The type of service you book will determine what’s included in the checks. Services are usually available in three levels: interim, full and major. If any parts are worn or faulty, the garage will replace them but the number of those you are entitled to will depend on the level of service you have chosen. A service may include checks of some of the same parts as an MOT, including:

  • Engine oil
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Lights
  • Exhaust
  • Fluid levels
  • Coolant
  • Battery

Should I do MOT and service together?

Most people will organise their MOT and service at the same time, as a lot of garages will bundle both in together on a package deal. Plus, for convenience, it means just one trip to the garage rather than two.

When is my MOT due?

If you have a new car, your MOT test will be due three years from its registration date. After that, your vehicle will need an MOT on an annual basis. If you’re not sure when your MOT is due, you can simply head to the government website and enter your registration to find out.

Have MOTs been extended?

When the UK first went into lockdown in March 2020, the government announced a six-month exemption on MOTs. However, it was confirmed in June 2020 that mandatory testing would be reintroduced from the 1st of August.

How often should you service your car?

Your manufacturer’s handbook should tell you how often you need to service your car. Typically, it’s recommended to book a service every 10,000-20,000 miles, although some garages will offer them after six, 12 or 24 months, depending on the level of service you choose.

How long does an MOT and service take?

An MOT typically takes around 45 minutes to an hour, while you can expect an interim service to take up to 90 minutes. If you’re having a full or major service, they can take a couple of hours so it may not prove convenient for you to wait around at the garage until everything is finished.

How much is an MOT and service?

The most you will pay for a car MOT is £54.85, but the cost of a service can vary. This is because different garages will charge different prices, while the level of service you book will also determine how expensive it is. As a rough guide, you can typically expect an interim service to cost somewhere in the region of £100, while a full or major service is likely to set you back at least £150.

Do electric cars need servicing?

Yes, electric cars need servicing in the same way that standard models do. Your charging port and cables will all be assessed but overall there are fewer moving parts than in a combustion engine, so you may find that the checks do not take as long to complete.

Is it better to service your car at the dealer?

There are plenty of reasons why it makes sense to get your MOT and service taken care of at a dealership rather than an independent garage:

  • A dealership will typically charge fixed prices at a competitive rate, so you know exactly how much you can expect to pay, and some even offer promotions that can help you make a healthy saving.
  • If your car is still under the manufacturer’s warranty, it may be a condition that you book a service through a dealership. You might find that taking it elsewhere voids your warranty.
  • Dealerships employ staff who specialise in certain car manufacturers, so you can rest assured you’ll be handing the keys over to an expert.
  • When it comes to changing your car, you may find that it’s easier to sell a model that has a proven record of dealership service.
  • Dealerships will always ensure that any replacement parts or fluids are approved for use with that particular make and model.

Book your MOT and service with Jardine Motors

It’s vital that you keep your car running smoothly and in the best possible condition, otherwise you could suddenly end up with a nasty repair bill. That’s a situation nobody wants to be in, so why not book in for a service or an MOT with Jardine.

We have more than 60 dealerships up and down the country, all employing fully trained technicians with extensive experience of working on a wide range of makes and models. We can also offer service plans to suit your budget and circumstances, while our complimentary vehicle health checks will make sure your car is performing as expected.

Our aftercare service is comprehensive and even includes body repairs, tyre-fitting and air conditioning maintenance. If you have any questions you can always get in touch and a member of our friendly team will be happy to speak to you.

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