What to do if your car fails its MOT

What is an MOT?

The term MOT strikes fear into many drivers, but it’s actually a vital part of road safety. An MOT checks that each car is fit to be on the road, which prevents dangerous vehicles from causing accidents or harming people. You can book an MOT test relatively easily, as most garages will offer this service, and for legal reasons they need to be done once a year. This is unless your car is brand new, in which case it’s first MOT will be after three years. If your vehicle passes, you will be given an MOT certificate, and you can go on your way.

What to do if your car fails its MOT

So, you’ve just been told that your car has failed its MOT, now what do you do? First you’ll receive a VT30 certificate, which will outline the reasons why your vehicle failed. Legally you’re not allowed to drive without a valid MOT, so leaving your car at the testing centre to be repaired is always the best option. If your old MOT is still valid and your car has been deemed roadworthy, then you can drive to get repairs elsewhere. The only way that your old MOT can be valid is if you have taken your MOT test prior to the expiration date, that’s why it’s always a good idea to check when you’re due an MOT and get it booked in early. Either way, you will need to repair your vehicle to the standards of the VT30 certificate.

Appeal an MOT

Feel like your car should have passed? You can appeal your MOT by sending a complaint form to the DVSA. This needs to be done within 14 days of your MOT test, ideally as quickly as you can. If your appeal is successful, a second test will be done to check your vehicle. In the event of a pass, you will get all of your test money refunded and will walk away a happy driver.

Organising a retest

Once you’ve made the necessary repairs, it’s time for a partial retest. This is a great way to get your vehicle checked over a second time without having to go through the whole MOT process again. The application for your retest needs to be submitted within the 21 days after your test, and should be completed within 60. The quicker you can retest the cheaper it will be. For example, if you’ve decided to take your car elsewhere for repairs then MOT retests are only free if you’re back at the testing centre before the end of the next working day. Otherwise if your vehicle has been repaired at the testing centre, there are 10 days in which it needs to be retested in order for it to be free.

Driving without an MOT

Ensuring your vehicle has a valid and in-date MOT is really important, and you could be fined up to £1,000 if you’re caught driving without one. This fine can be increased if your car is found with serious faults, and you could face paying up to £2,500, be banned from driving and get three points on your licence. Driving without an MOT is dangerous, and there’s probably a good reason why your car didn’t pass - you could be endangering yourself and others. No MOT means no valid insurance either, which is never something you want to drive without. A lack of insurance also runs the risk of receiving more points on your licence.

In simple terms, don’t drive without an MOT.

When are you allowed to drive without an MOT?

There are instances where you can drive without an MOT. This includes driving to pre-booked tests or repairs. If your car is less than three years old, then this is the only occasion you can drive without an MOT. This is the case for both an expired MOT and a failed MOT as long as your car has not been flagged for having any dangerous issues in the latter. Driving to a pre-booked test is allowed, but you should go straight there and should not make any stops along the way. Be prepared to have proof of your appointment if you are pulled over. As this is not recommended, make sure you keep tabs on when your next MOT is due.

Help your car pass

Coming up to your MOT and want to do a few checks yourself before the test? We’ve made a list of a few things you can look over yourself to ensure your vehicle has the best chance of passing:

  • Tyre pressure and tread - Check your tyre pressure at your local garage or petrol station, make sure they are pumped up before your MOT. Check your tyre tread depth too, the legal minimum is 1.6mm so ensure that they are not below this and balding
  • Brake fluid and oil levels - Does your vehicle have a good amount of brake fluid? What about oil levels? Why not pop open the bonnet and check before you go to the test centre
  • Mirrors - Are your mirrors in good condition, can you see out of them? Consider getting these fixed if they have any cracks, or give them a good wipe down if dirt is obscuring your view
  • Windscreen and wipers - Check that there are no marks or chips on your windscreen that could block your view. Your windscreen wipers also need to be properly attached, with the rubber securely in place
  • Lights - Are all your lights working? This includes indicator lights as well as headlights, sidelights, brake lights and fog lights
  • Number plate - Is your number plate clean and clear? Is it visible from a distance?
  • Horn - You might not have used your horn much, but it’s important to check that it works efficiently
  • Warning lights - Save the tester an easy job and check that there are no warning lights on before you head for your test

Is it worth repairing?

Sometimes, the cost of repairing your car is greater than its worth, or maybe you could buy a new car with that money. If that’s the case, why not think about scrapping your car? That way, you earn money that can be put towards your new vehicle. Why not get in touch and see how we can help you and your car.