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Classic Car MOTs: everything you need to know

21st January 2021

Legally, all cars older than 3 years are required to have an annual MOT to check for faults and functionality. However, some classic cars and other historical vehicles are exempt from MOTs if they fit certain criteria. By the end of this guide, you should know everything you need to about classic car MOTs.

Criteria - Does my historic vehicle need an MOT?

All historical vehicles, including cars, motorbikes, vans and other light passenger vehicles, do not need an MOT if they:

  • Were first built or registered more than 40 years ago.
  • Have had no ‘substantial changes’ made to the vehicle in the past 30 years – this could include changes to the chassis, body or engine.

A substantial change is defined as a technical change that alters the way the vehicle works. If you are unsure whether a substantial change has been made to your vehicle, read the full government guidance from GOV.uk. If your vehicle was registered over 40 years ago but has had a substantial change made to the running of the car, this vehicle will need to have an MOT.

What are the MOT requirements for a historic vehicle?

A historical vehicle MOT has the same requirements as a regular MOT. If your historical vehicle is due an MOT soon, look out for these things:

  • Fluid levels - check engine oil, coolant, brake fluid etc. regularly
  • Tyre tread - is your tyre tread above the legal minimum of 1.6 mm?
  • Bulbs – check to see if your lights are in working order
  • Windscreen – check for any damage, and functioning windscreen wipers

Book a service once a year, or every 6 months, to keep on top of the above car maintenance tips, and make sure your car is always road safe.

How do I apply for historic vehicle MOT exemption?

If you wish to use your historical vehicle on the road but do not legal require an MOT, you must either get an MOT or declare the vehicle as a Vehicle of Historical Interest (VHI). If your classic currently has a MOT certificate but you anticipate not having this renewed, it is worth getting your vehicle registering as a VHI before it expires.

To declare your mode of transport as a Vehicle of Historical Interest, you need a functioning car of over 40 years old. You can then apply at your local Post Office with:

  • Your vehicle log book
  • A valid MOT certificate or a completed V112 MOT exemption form
  • Vehicle tax reminder letter

Did your historical vehicle fit the criteria, or do you need to get an MOT? If your car does not quite make the cut, book an MOT at one of our local garages across the UK or contact our helpful team today.