• 2022-10-13 08:00:00
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What is the Difference Between MOT and Service?


Many car owners will know there is a difference between an MOT and a service. However, you might not know exactly what that difference is. You may not know what’s included in an MOT and what happens to your car during the service, and you might not be sure about how often exactly you should be undertaking the two. Read on to find out everything you need to know about MOTs and services, so you know exactly what you need to do to keep your car running and compliant.

MOT vs Service

An MOT is a test to ensure your car is roadworthy. Every MOT follows a strict criterion of areas that have been set out by the Government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. These areas will be checked to make sure they are working correctly and will be the same for every car. The test itself does not include any repairs to your car, although work may be required for it to pass the test.

An MOT is mandatory if your car is three or more years old. It’s a legal requirement to have a valid MOT certificate – driving without one invalidates your insurance, so you’ll be personally liable to pay any costs in an accident. You could also be at risk of paying a £1,000 find and losing six to eight points from your licence.

A service involves the upkeep and maintenance of your car. Unlike an MOT it is not mandatory, and it will involve work being done to your car, such as repairs and replacing faulty or worn parts. The service involves an inspection of various parts and areas, following the criteria put forward by the vehicle’s manufacturer. Different garages may include different things for their service.

The purpose of a service is to ensure your vehicle keeps running and working correctly, to prolong the vehicle’s life and prevent it from breaking down.

Do I Need a Service if My Car Passed the MOT?

No, you do not legally have to have a service on your car. But whilst passing the MOT will deem your car roadworthy, it does not involve any maintenance, so you could be more at risk of breaking down without a regular service.

Wear and tear of parts will build up over time and regular servicing will identify parts that should be replaced before they cause a fault. This can also improve the lifespan of your vehicle, preventing any major faults or damages before they occur so you can continue to use your car for a long time. Identifying risks and fixing them before they become a major defect can also save you money – paying to fix a broken-down car can be much more expensive than just paying to have worn one part replaced. Keeping up with your oil changes and filters can also make your car more efficient, so will save you money on fuel.

If you don’t service your car, as well as being more at risk of breaking down, you may also find it more difficult to sell the vehicle on. A car that has been serviced regularly will be more tractive, and so, more valuable, to prospective buyers. They’ll have the peace of mind that the car has been taken care of and will be more likely to work correctly.

What’s Included in a Service?

There are two types of service – an interim service and a full service. The full service should be carried out annually and is a comprehensive inspection. An interim service includes less than a full service and is usually carried out every six months or 5,000 to 6,000 miles.

An interim service usually includes a check and replacement or repair (if required) of the below:

  • Lights
  • Battery
  • Wipers
  • Exhaust
  • Brakes
  • Steering
  • Shock absorbers
  • Suspension
  • Bodywork
  • Tyre tread and pressure
  • Engine oil and filter
  • Windscreen wash
  • Power steering fluid
  • Antifreeze coolant

The full service will include the above and also:

  • Auxiliary drive belt
  • Wheel alignment, bearing and balance
  • Air filter
  • Fuel filter (for a diesel engine)
  • Spark plugs (for a petrol engine)

Some garages provide a major car service, designed to be given every two years. This can also include replacing the brake fluid, replacing the cabin filter, and testing the alternator charging rate.

What’s Checked in an MOT?

An MOT will need to be carried out annually. You should aim to get your car MOT tested before the expiry date – this will give you some time to get any faults fixed and get the car retested before the MOT certificate expires. Remember, it’s illegal to drive your car without a valid MOT certificate, unless you are driving it to the garage to get it repaired or retested. If you get stopped by the police in this instance, you will have to prove you have an appointment booked with the garage.

An MOT aims to check the safety of the vehicle, not its health. This includes inspecting the following to check everything is working as it should:

  • Bodywork
  • Any towbars
  • Fuel system
  • Exhaust system and emissions
  • Seatbelts and seats
  • Doors
  • Mirrors
  • Boot
  • Brakes
  • Tyres
  • Registration plate
  • Lights
  • Bonnet
  • Wipers
  • Windscreen
  • Horn
  • Steering
  • Suspension
  • Electricals and battery
  • Vehicle identification number

Remember, an MOT does not involve any replacement parts or repair work, it is solely to check the condition of the vehicle. However, most garages that carry out MOTs will also be able to undertake work that will help your vehicle to pass, if required.

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