Direct Line magazine

What to do if your car fails its MOT?

Updated on: 5 June 2024

MOT testing station sign on a red background

Failing an MOT test can be a stressful experience for any car owner. Not only does it mean your vehicle isn't roadworthy, but it also often comes with unexpected expenses.

It happens more often than you might think. According to Government statistics, between October and December 2023, more than 29% of cars initially failed their MOTs (2,092,446 fails from 8,804,478 tests).

However, knowing what steps to take next can help ease the process and get your car back on the road safely and legally.

In this guide, we'll walk you through what to do if your car fails its MOT.

My car failed its MOT – what do I do?

If your vehicle fails its MOT, you can leave it at the test centre where they can carry out the essential repairs needed. As long as these repairs are done within 10 working days of failing the MOT, your vehicle can then be partially retested for free.

Can I drive my car if it fails the MOT?

You can take your vehicle away if your MOT is still valid, provided the test didn't report a dangerous defect.

If your car fails its MOT, and the date on your last certificate has passed, then you can legally drive it to be repaired or to a pre-booked MOT appointment. Even then, the car must be roadworthy.

Breaking these rules can land you in serious legal trouble and you might not be covered by your car insurance provider.

Driving a car that has failed its MOT because of a "dangerous" problem can result in fines of up to £2,500, three penalty points and a driving ban.

What will fail an MOT?

The most common defect category for MOT failure is ‘lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment'. In the first part of 2022, these issues made up nearly 26% of overall defects. Other defects that lead to failure include:

  • Suspension: 18.63%
  • Brakes: 15.94%
  • Tyres: 12.53%

Essentially, anything that renders your car unsafe to drive or "not roadworthy" is an MOT failure.

How to avoid failing your MOT

Regular maintenance is the best possible solution. Here are some key pre-MOT checks to consider:

For more detailed tips, take a look at our car MOT checklist.

Can I appeal a failed MOT?

If you're absolutely sure that the result was inaccurate, you can appeal a failed MOT. First, contact the testing centre to ensure clear communication. Then, send a complaint form to the DVSA within 14 working days.

Make sure you’re covered

An MOT is designed to keep you and other road users safe, and is a requirement for driving on the public roads along with valid car insurance.

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