There are lots of advantages to having an electric or hybrid vehicle. As well as doing your bit for the planet, there are financial benefits too. Drivers of electric vehicles don’t have to pay road tax, and are exempt from many congestion zone charging schemes too.
When it comes to MOT tests though, electric or hybrid vehicles still have to go through the annual examination, but with a few key differences.
1] Which cars need a MOT test?
Not all vehicles on the road need a MOT test. If you’ve just bought a brand new electric or hybrid car, it’s not something you’ll have to worry about straight away. This is because cars generally don’t need their first MOT test until they have been on the road for three years.
If you are in Northern Ireland, this period is stretched to four years. If however you’re using your electric or hybrid vehicle as a taxi, there are different rules for road worthiness.
Lots of large country estates, zoos and other parks use electric vehicles as a way of getting around their site. If they’re never taken on a public road, then they won’t ever require a MOT. There is also an exemption for MOT tests in cars which are 40 years old or more.
Electric cars haven’t been around that long yet but unless the system changes, there will eventually be electric or hybrid cars exempt in that category too. If you’re not sure when your car was first registered and will therefore need its first MOT, you can check online.
Use the government website to check the tax and MOT status of your vehicle. All you need to look at the information is your car’s registration number.
2] Booking a MOT for an electric car
There’s no difference in the procedure when booking a MOT for an electric vehicle. Usually, when you make a booking online you are asked to enter the registration plate for your vehicle. This pulls out the information stored on the DVLA database so the garage will be aware that they are expecting you to arrive with an electric car.
If you are making your booking over the phone or in person, it’s probably better to mention electric vehicles at the booking time. MOT inspectors are qualified to test all sorts of cars so it shouldn’t be a matter of there being nobody qualified to look at your car.
It’s just a matter of common courtesy so you’re not catching them on the hop. Even though the MOT test for electric cars don’t cover as many aspects as the standard MOT, there is unlikely to be a discount for electric cars given.
3] Differences in MOT Test for Electric Cars
Hybrid cars are a bit of a mixture between conventional engines and electric engines. The idea is that if the battery runs out, the conventional engine kicks in. There is less difference between a hybrid car and a conventional engine. However, a wholly electric car has significant differences which mean that a MOT test can often be quicker.
For example, an electric car has no exhaust system at all, and no emissions. So the tester can just skip right past that part of the checklist and proceed to the next part of the test. However, electric cars have to come up to exactly the same standards in all other sections of the MOT.
4] Repairs of Electric Cars
If your electric car fails its MOT, you will have to get it fixed and put it back through the MOT again. Electric cars are still comparatively rare in the UK, and garages might be reluctant to work on vehicles which they are not familiar with.
If all you need to get through the MOT is a new tyre or replacement headlamp bulb they may be more than happy to do the work, but if it’s a more serious issue with the internal workings of your engine, it may be best to take the car elsewhere.
Many owners of electric vehicles therefore choose to put their cars through the MOT at the main franchise dealer for their brand of car, or at an independent garage which specialises in electric or hybrid vehicles.
These sorts of garages are springing up around the UK as the number of electric vehicles on the road increases too. If you want to use a specialist for your MOT work, then you may have to get organised and book your slot well in advance.
5] Maintenance and Repair
The best starting point for learning how to maintain and repair your electric or hybrid car is with the handbook which comes with the car.
You don’t need to read it from cover to cover, but you really should get to grips with information about how often your car needs serviced, and what you need to do in terms of checking the oil, topping up windscreen wash or having the batteries checked. There’s lots more information online, either through the manufacturer’s website, or from specialist forums for owners and drivers of electric cars.
If you have a good relationship with the team at the local garage which services your electric car and does any repairs as needed, it makes sense to have your car MOT done there too. They know you, know your car and might have already picked up potential issues when your car has been in for a check or service.
Having your car maintained properly has the double benefit of keeping your car on the road problem-free, and maintaining its value too. Most owners of electric vehicles are in it for the long term, and don’t want to sell their vehicle quickly and move on to the next.
But if you have had your car maintained regularly and can prove this with stamps in the service book, then it will hold more of its value. As more drivers make the switch from diesel or petrol into electric, the second hand electric car market is booming.