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How to check car tax and MOT history online

Many aspects of owning a car can be unpredictable. There’s no crystal ball telling you how the price of your insurance policy will change over time, whether anyone’s going to knock your wing mirror off by accident, or the problems a car has before you’ve bought it and driven a few hundred miles. We don’t have a crystal ball, but we do all have something that can help us find out whether a second-hand car has had any past problems.

MOT TestBuying a previously owned car – whether through a private seller or the motor trade needs some research, and the government website GOV.UK offers a service which allows users to check up on a cars tax and MOT history. It’s easy to use and doesn’t cost a penny.

Doing these checks is a no-brainer: it’s a simple way to achieve peace of mind or rule out an unpredictable vehicle before handing over any cash. It’s a fast check too, so there’s no reason not to do it for any car you’re considering buying. 

The MOT search page simply requires you to enter the number plate of the vehicle (unless it’s trade plates, or a new car which will have no service history). You can then see the details of every MOT test since 2005 for that vehicle, including pass or fail, mileage, next MOT due date, and any minor faults or failing parts. This is an extraordinarily helpful facility for anyone shopping for a used car, and because it only requires the registration details, you can do it from home before wasting a journey to find an old banger waiting for you.

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What else? Well, in addition to MOT details, you can also find out about the tax status of all new and used cars just by entering a registration number. SORN status, Tax expiry date, first registration date, CO2 emissions and the rate of vehicle tax payable… all of this at the click of a button. Simply click on this link and enter the number plate and find out whether the vehicle you’re looking to buy has been registered as “off the road”, or has expensively high fuel emissions.

So next time you or someone you know is looking for a new set of wheels, keep this information in the back of your mind.