Although we all know to take our cars in for their yearly MOT, you may not know much about the test itself, or its history. What is an MOT, and what does ‘MOT’ stand for? When were they started, and why?

We’re here to bring you everything you need to know about the history of MOTs, and how they continue to adapt to changing times and technologies.

The history of MOTs

The MOT test was first introduced in 1960 under the Road Traffic Act 1956, designed to make sure that your vehicle meets the minimum road safety and environmental standards required by law. Although the test was optional until 1961, a valid MOT certificate is now a legal requirement.

It was originally nicknamed ‘the ten-year test’ since cars were only required to have an MOT if they were over ten years old (this was lowered to seven years in 1961 and then three years in 1967). Of course, it’s now known as an MOT test, which is short for Ministry of Transport – that’s the past government department that originated the test, and eventually became the current Department for Transport.

The parameters of the test have broadened over the years as cars have become more capable – the original test only looked at brakes, lights, and steering, and was first carried out when a vehicle turned ten years old. Now, of course, new cars must have an MOT when they turn three years old, and the test encompasses areas like tyres, emissions, seat belts, bodywork, and wiring systems. For a full breakdown of what’s checked in an MOT, you can check out our article here.

The most recent set of changes were introduced in 2018 to try and reduce the number of people driving dangerous and unroadworthy cars. The changes introduced stricter rules and steeper fines and mean that even if your MOT is still in date, you could face a penalty if your car isn’t deemed roadworthy. You can read more about the updated fines in our article here.

The future of MOTs

As technology continues to progress, how will MOTs change? We can only speculate, but we do know that tests will have to continue adapting to keep up with advances in car capabilities, as they have done for the last 60 years.

One change we can certainly expect to see in the future is a reduction in the number of exhaust emissions tests. As part of the government’s net-zero targets, it was announced in 2020 that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is to end by 2030, and new hybrid models by 2035. Currently, hybrid and electric cars aren’t tested on emissions during an MOT, so as electric cars become more prevalent on the roads, fewer cars will need this check. Changes like these are likely to become more frequent as more car technologies change and advance.

There have also repeatedly been discussions both within the government and externally about whether to increase the length of MOT certificates to two years, with the most recent suggestion made in 2022 by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps – the change would mean that you’d only need to get your car tested once every two years instead of annually.

The proposal has consistently gained criticism for its failure to consider the safety of road users – frequent MOTs ensure that a car is legal and safe to drive, and extending the period between tests only serves to endanger both drivers and pedestrians.

Although often discussed, the proposal has never made it into law, so you’ll still need to make sure that your car is booked in for a year after your last test. If your MOT date is fast approaching and you’ve not yet booked it, we’re here to help. You can book your MOT, or combine it with your annual service to save yourself up to £39 and another trip, online at Halfords.com.

If you’re unsure what you can do to try and maximise your chances of a pass, check out our article on how to get your car ready for its MOT for all our tips, tricks, and recommendations.

The Halfords Motoring Club

To keep you MOT ready all year round, why not join the thousands of people already signed up to the Halfords Motoring Club? You can enjoy a range of amazing benefits and discounts that are designed to keep you moving, keep you safe and keep you saving.

It’s free to join and you’ll receive money off your MOT, a free car health check and a welcome voucher that can be spent on any Halfords product or service.

Or choose our Premium membership for a small monthly fee (or a one-off payment) to unlock exclusive member pricing on all motoring products and services online and across our stores, garages, and Halfords Mobile Experts, as well as a variety of other benefits that will help you to keep moving for less.

With so much to enjoy, this is too good an opportunity to miss!

Join the Halfords Motoring Club today at www.halfords.com/motoring-club.


Over the years, MOTs have changed and adapted to modern advancements, and are sure to continue to do so in the future. Whatever form that takes, Halfords is here to make sure that you and your vehicle are safe.

If your MOT is due, book your test and your annual service together to save some money and an extra trip to the garage. For any other motoring needs, check out Halfords.com or pop into your local store where one of our experts will be happy to help.

You want to keep motoring for less, you want Halfords.