Guide to an MOT History Check

MOT History Check


Understand and Check MOT History


An essential part of buying a genuine and reliable used car


Over the last 24 years Marcus Rockey (The Used Car Guy) has bought and sold over 9.1 millions pounds worth of used cars in the UK. As part of running successful car dealerships he has always carried out an independent MOT check on each vehicle that was 3 years or older. Here, he discloses the exact steps to running an effective MOT history check with the DVLA to verify mileage and predict the cost of a cars next MOT.



Checking MOT history is free, online and this information CANNOT be found on a vehicle history check.


What you’ll need:

  1. A car that’s over 3 years old (else it wouldn’t have had its first M.O.T)
  2. Vehicle registration number
  3. And/or an MOT test number or V5C reference number

Number 3 no longer applies as the Government MOT Check service has updated their system.


Here’s how to find them:


v5 log book reference number for an MOT check


checking mot history image


Any legitimate car owner will have no hesitation in providing you with the information required to run your own MOT history check. Once you have the car details head over to the .gov MOT check. Here, you will get access to comprehensive MOT records. You’ll have the chance to look through a vast history (depending on the age of the car) of MOT’s including the “Advisory Items” and the “Failure Items.”


Reason why

The purpose of carrying out this check is so you can see what the car has failed on. You need to know what parts should have been repaired/replaced for the car to have passed its subsequent MOT. Ideally, you’ll find evidence of those replacement parts as part of the service records/history (more on this in a moment.)


Advisory Items

You must also look at the advisories on each individual MOT. In particular, check out the advisory items on the two most recent MOT’s. Although it may have been advised that a part be replaced it was NOT a legal requirement. Therefore, the car could still be classed as roadworthy without the advised parts actually being replaced.


What Does Advisory Item Really Mean?

Advisories are those parts on a used car that do not have to be replaced for the car to pass its MOT but do carry minor to significant amounts of wear (and tear.) In other words, the worn parts are not a legal requirement for a MOT to be certified, but the MOT station is ‘advising’ those worn parts be replaced.

What this means for you is uncertainty and possible expense not too far down the road. Items that were advised but not replaced will surely come up as failures on the very next MOT!

If this is the case you’ll need to know roughly how much they’re gonna cost to replace in the future. But this may not always be the case as you’ll see in a moment.

A typical advisory item might be a CV joint, lower suspension arm or faulty power steering rack. Depending on the vehicle, such parts can cost in excess of £200-£300 to replace, when you include labour and VAT.

Beware of advisories for tyres and brakes. We know that the tyres are the only part of the car that’s actually in contact with the road.


“Do you really want to take risks here? I highly recommend that you get them replaced.


Low or thin brake pads or warped discs can impede driving, especially on wet or iced roads. Again, I don’t take risks but instead wrap those items as necessary expenses should I buy the car.


Rule of thumb: If brakes or tyres are highlighted as MOT advisories it means they need replacing – in my opinion.


Tip: If you’re buying a car from a dealer insist that they include a 12 month MOT as part of the deal. Any dealer worth its salt will surely agree to such a reasonable request?

But – Take it one step further and insist that the MOT be delivered with no advisories! This means that if the car has wearing brakes, tyres, suspension joint etc. that the dealer will pay to have them replaced as part of the deal.

The amount of times I have seen the private car buyer get a new MOT included as part of the deal, only to find out (usually when the next MOT is due because they weren’t thorough enough when they bought the car) that the MOT has half a dozen advisory items that were now failures just 12 months later.

So, when you collect your new car from a dealer make sure the MOT advisory section is a nice, open, white space like the one in this image:

check mot history certificate example image


Outside of vetting a car and running a car history check, the MOT history check is the most important step you can take to safeguarding your money and buying a car that is genuine, reliable and good value for money.


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