Do electric cars need an MOT?
This page will cover everything you need to know about electric cars and MOTs. We’ll explain what’s included in an MOT, the costs involved and also the key differences between MOTs and servicing for petrol and diesel vehicles vs EVs.
- Electric cars aren’t exempt from MOTs and have the same requirements as petrol and diesel cars
- They will need an MOT each year from the third anniversary of the vehicle’s first registration
- MOTs are an important part of vehicle maintenance
What is an MOT?
An MOT is an annual check required by law on all vehicles in the UK older than 3 years (and older than 1 year for some vehicles). The test follows criteria set by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) to determine whether the car is safe and roadworthy. These include a range of vehicle safety checks completed by DVSA-approved examiners at an MOT test centre.
Electric cars are not exempt from MOTs, though there are some differences compared to MOTs for petrol and diesel cars that we’ll cover below.
Why do electric cars need an MOT?
Just like petrol and diesel cars, electric cars will need an MOT each year from the third anniversary of the car’s first registration. If you fail to have your EV checked, you could be fined up to £1,000. You can also use the Government ‘MOT reminder service’ to get notified on your phone or email account a month before your MOT is due.
However, unlike ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) vehicles, EVs have fewer moving parts in the drive train and therefore maintenance for expensive components (battery, electric motors) isn’t usually required.
What is checked during an MOT?
During an MOT test, your vehicle will be checked against a programme set by the DVSA. These checks are comprehensive and will include things such as brakes, tyres, electrics, headlights, horn, mirrors, seatbelts etc.
If the warning lights for airbags, anti-lock brakes, tyre pressure monitoring systems and electronic stability control are illuminated, your car will automatically fail its MOT.
The main difference between MOT tests for electric cars and petrol & diesel cars is the emissions test. ICE vehicles will have a probe inserted into the exhausts to measure the levels of pollutants emitted and to check they are in accordance with the legal requirements. However, since electric cars produce zero tailpipe emissions, this won’t need to be checked.
Here’s a list of things that an electric car MOT will check for:
- Fully functioning lights.
- Clean, legal, visible number plates.
- Windscreen free from chips and cracks.
- Suitably functioning wipers.
- Suitably functioning seatbelts.
- Steering in suitable working condition.
- Tyres legal, each wheel spins freely.
- Adequate suspension.
- Rust checks on brackets and vital mounting points. (Testers cannot remove car parts to rust check, so the aerodynamic panel under most EVs will stay put).
- Brake pads and discs in good condition.
How much does an electric car MOT cost?
There is a maximum charge of £54.85 for any MOT. EV MOTs also cost the same as petrol & diesel vehicle MOTs. However, you might find some service centres will offer discounted MOTs on the expectation that the vehicle will need work and if they are the chosen garage to carry out the work.
MOTs can also be scheduled at the same time as annual servicing, both for convenience and since servicing a vehicle can be a good pre-MOT check to identify possible issues and work required.
Are there any electric cars exempt from an MOT?
The only vehicles exempt from MOTs are electric goods vehicles such as milk floats, tractors, and vehicles & motorbikes made before 1960 (petrol & diesel cars as well).
MOTs vs Servicing
A service describes the regular maintenance that vehicles need to keep them in good working order. Although there is no legal requirement to get a car serviced, if you’ve bought your vehicle using finance, it’s likely that the contract will require you to have your vehicle serviced in accordance with manufacturer recommendations. Electric cars will also require servicing, though here too there are some differences.
Servicing comes in two main forms: scheduled and variable. Scheduled servicing will be carried out on a fixed time or mileage period – this is the most common recommendation from manufacturers for EVs. This is usually every 12 months or 10,000 miles – whichever is first.
Variable servicing will use the car’s on-board sensors to identify whether it needs maintenance. Driving behaviour and journey types can influence when your vehicle will need to be serviced. Typically, this will happen every two years.
For example, a petrol / diesel Volkswagen on a scheduled service will require an oil change every 12 months or 9,000 miles. A variable service can extend this to 24 months, or 18,000 miles.
In comparison, an electric VW ID.3 will need to be checked every two years, with no mileage limit.
Interestingly, Tesla claims that its cars don’t require any annual maintenance or regular fluid changes. However, there are other specific requirements for Teslas, depending on the model you have – for example, the Model 3 will need its cabin air filter replace and brake fluid checked every two years.
What is checked during a service?
With fewer moving parts than petrol and diesel cars, electric cars are at a big advantage when it comes to servicing.
For example, an engine and gearbox will have around 2,000 moving parts, whereas an electric motor will have around 20. EVs won’t need to have cam belts, oil and oil filters changed, which could potentially save you money.
However, it’s still important to get an EV serviced. Although the brakes can last longer because of regenerative braking, discs and pads will still get worn out and need to be checked. It’s also important to check how much play there is in the steering and suspension – since EV battery packs are heavy, and bushes (the rubber sleeves between moving parts) can get worn out over time.
EV servicing will also check the vehicle’s main battery. Whilst EVs don’t have radiators and don’t use coolant in the same way as ICE vehicles, their battery packs do have cooling systems which need to be checked. For example, the Kia Soul EV’s battery coolant will need to be changed every three years, or 30,000 miles.
MOTs and Servicing with elmo
All electric vehicles available on elmo are under three years old and therefore won’t require an MOT. However, they will require servicing.
As an elmo subscription includes routine servicing and maintenance, if your elmo vehicle needs a service, our Fleet team will ask you to complete a request on the Service Booking Portal.
You’ll be asked to enter your vehicle registration, your details and select what you need: a service, MOT or both.
So our service partners can locate you to our preferred service provider, you’ll also need to enter your address. Our providers will then arrange the service with you and sort everything else. Our Fleet team will be available to assist should you need any help with the online form.