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United Kingdom (UK) - Vehicle Inspection, Maintenance, Repairs and Breakdown Recovery

In the United Kingdom all vehicles are required to adhere to certain environmental and safety laws. This is done through the MoT inspection. The inspection is an annual test which checks for safety, exhaust emissions, and roadworthiness. A certificate is provided to any vehicle that passes the MoT. In order to get your car tested and receive the certification to avoid fines, you will need to contact your local Vehicle and Operator Services Agency. This agency serves Scotland, England, and Wales. For Northern Ireland contact the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA).

The inspection covers the following safety and emissions components in your vehicle:

1 Steering and suspension

2 Brakes

3 Lighting and signalling devices

4 Tyres and wheels

5 Body, structure, and general components

6 Seat belts

7 Driver’s view

8 Exhaust, emissions, and fuel

The standard fee for vehicle inspections is between £29.65 and £58.60. Motorcycles cost less, while light goods vehicles are more. A standard car charge for the MoT inspection is usually £54.85. These fees can change each year and are based on location. You may find charges higher in England than in Northern Ireland, for example.

Expat Equivalents

For expats living in the European Union, the MoT inspection is not a new concept. In the United States it is usually referred to as vehicle inspection, where there are specific offices one must use based on location in the city and county. Rules have changed for US residents with regard to how often a vehicle needs to be inspected. Remember that MoT inspections must be conducted annually.

Maintenance of your Car

When you are a car owner you have certain responsibilities with regard to maintenance and repair of your vehicle. The MoT inspection ensures that you keep up with repairs and are driving a safe car. If you have not repaired your vehicle after an accident it may not pass the safety tests, in which case you would be required to repair it before you can try to obtain certification. If you require a retest, you must come back with certified proof of the repairs to the problems noted on the failed test.

Maintenance schedules are provided by the manufacturers. As long as you follow the suggested maintenance schedule and get your car repaired in the event of an accident, you should not have a problem with the MoT inspection.

Maintenance schedules usually indicate when your oil and other fluids need to be replaced, and when to change your brake pads, rotors, and other mechanical parts. You will need to answer all manufacturer recall notices and repair requirements to maintain road safety.

The inspection is looking to see that there are no loose or misplaced parts on the vehicle; that it meets safety regulations; and that it will not harm the environment.

Breakdown Cover

In the United Kingdom you can purchase breakdown cover in addition to your car insurance policy. Sometimes a car breaks down and has to be towed away. If this happens and you do not have cover or a membership with a program like AA, you will need to find an independent towing company.

Breakdown cover usually covers the fees for the towing and repair, since you pay for the insurance. Companies like AA (the Automotive Association) will provide travel information and towing cover. They may suggest repair shops, or you can request that your car be towed to a specific location.

As long as you keep your car in good repair with regular maintenance you should not require breakdown cover. Of course, accidents do happen, and it is good to be prepared in the event of a breakdown.

Breakdown Resources


AA is the automotive association, which is known as the AAA in the United States. This association provides breakdown services and travel help.

+44(0) 800 085 2721


A motoring assistance company for breakdown, GEM provides repairs and towing.

+44(0) 845 3700 940

Civil Service Motoring Association

An association with membership for car breakdown needs such as towing. The CSM also offers repairs.

+44(0) 800 66 99 44


One of the more popular breakdown cover and towing services available in the United Kingdom.

+44(0) 333 2000 999

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