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What should I do if my car fails its MOT?

Stephen Wright, 2 years ago

4 min read

  • Advice
  • what
Mechanic inspecting a car

WhoCanFixMyCar provides details of what you should do next if your car fails its MOT.

While it's naturally disappointing when you find out your car has failed its MOT, at least you can take some comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone. Over 35 per cent of cars fail their test first time every year.

Once you’ve got over the initial shock, what should you do next? Well, the good news is that if your car has failed and has faults that need to be rectified, in some instances you are allowed one free MOT retest.

How to claim a free MOT re-test?

There are currently two sets of circumstances in which your car can be re-tested for free in the UK according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA):

  • If your car fails its MOT and is left at the testing station for repair and re-test.

  • If your car fails its MOT for a specific reason (such as bonnet, brake pedal, doors, fuel cap, hazard warning lights, horn, lamps, mirror, registration plates, steering wheel and tyres) but is returned for its re-test by the end of the next working day.

Car Mechanics Working on Car (c/o GEM Assist)

Can I drive my car if it’s failed its MOT?

Any faults detected by the tester during the MOT are categorised as either ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’. Anything classed as ‘dangerous’ means you must not drive your vehicle until it is repaired at the same garage (or have it towed to another garage of your choosing) although with any ‘major’ faults you are allowed to drive to a different garage if you prefer to have them resolved at the location prior to your re-test.

To avoid falling foul of the authorities, it is advisable to book your MOT well before your old one runs out. Don’t forget that you can book your test up to 28 days in advance. This then gives you plenty of time to make any repairs if you do happen to fail.

However, if you are caught still driving an unroadworthy car by the police without a pre-arranged follow-up MOT test, you could receive a fine of up to £2,500, invalidate your car insurance, be banned from driving as well as receiving penalty points on your driving license.

What happens if I miss my MOT?

You could be fined up to £1,000 for driving without a valid MOT. To avoid this happening, WhoCanFixMyCar has launched a dedicated free MOT reminder check.

The complimentary service allows motorists to not only check when their MOT is due in less than 20 seconds, but also set up reminders in advance of that date so that they don’t forget.

The free MOT checker also gives drivers the opportunity to compare MOT prices from garages in their area as well as book their MOT a month before their test date.

Can I appeal a failed MOT test?

If you believe that your failed MOT test was incorrect, you have the right to appeal your decision. To do so, go to the DVSA within 14 days of your original test. They will then contact you to discuss your appeal and may even offer you an appointment to re-examine your vehicle. Please don’t have any repairs carried out on your car during the appeal process as it must be in the same condition it was tested.

How much is an MOT?

The average cost of an MOT across all manufacturers according to the latest statistics from WhoCanFixMyCar is currently £43.51.

How to improve your chances of passing your MOT

According to the DVSA, the agency that oversees the MOT, lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment are the biggest causes of MOT failure, closely followed by suspension problems.

Carrying out basic vehicle maintenance health checks prior to your MOT is one way of improving your chances of passing. For instance, check all the internal and external lights are working (including indicators). If you are struggling, get a member of your family or a friend to help out.

Source: TyreSafe

Another practical test is to place a 20p coin into the tyre tread grooves, and if you can't see the coin's outer band, then you are above the legal tread limit of 1.6mm. And, last but by no means least, top up your fluid levels where necessary as this can make all the difference. The same applies to engine oil.