Can you sell a car without an MOT?

A white Tesla parked in a showroom.
A car without a current MOT is not legally allowed to be driven on UK roads

Every vehicle over three years of age is legally required to pass a yearly MOT (Ministry of Transport) test to drive on the UK roads. 

Not having an up-to-date MOT – or even failing an MOT – can make your vehicle a tough sell, but there is no legal reason why you can’t sell it. 

What is an MOT certificate?

An MOT certificate is the official document that declares a car or van fit to drive on the UK roads. Without it, a vehicle cannot be taxed, and this means that driving the vehicle is not only potentially dangerous – but also illegal.

If you are stopped by the authorities driving a vehicle that has no MOT certificate, you can be fined up to £1,000 and receive points on your licence. The MOT certificate verifies that your vehicle has passed a series of required safety examinations and has been deemed ‘road safe.’ 

During an MOT, most parts of the car are examined to ensure they are working within accepted parameters – these include the engine, lights, brakes, windscreen wipers, and bodywork. Any faults in these key areas could result in an MOT failure.

Typically, the garage where your MOT test is taking place can fix any problems that they identify in order that the vehicle can pass the test. However, if you do not wish to have your vehicle fixed, you are permitted to drive it away from that location. This is the only circumstance in which you can drive the car if its previous certificate has expired – otherwise, it must remain off the road.

Is it legal to sell a car or van without an MOT certificate?

Yes. However, whilst it is totally legal to sell a car or van without a valid MOT certificate, it does make the process more difficult.  

For example, if you do manage to find a buyer for the vehicle, they will not be able to drive the car away after they have purchased it – as it is not legally ‘roadworthy’. 

If your buyer does manage to transport the vehicle away from your property – they will also be saddled with the cost of repairs if they want to make the car legally usable. 

Due to the inconvenience and added expense that comes with buying a car or van without a valid MOT certificate, most buyers will avoid it.

Some cars will find a buyer regardless of their MOT status, but these buyers will usually want to factor in the cost of making the car roadworthy again – and, accordingly, will offer a low price. This will be the case regardless of whether you’re selling privately or to a dealer. 

A Mercedes-Benz parked in a car park
A Mercedes-Benz parked in a car park

How to sell a car with no MOT?

It can be difficult, but you might just get lucky. To sell a car with no MOT, you legally need to ensure that your buyer is aware of its condition and status – and, crucially, that they have the means to collect the car without driving it on a public road.

If you can sell your car without an MOT, one major benefit is that you don’t have to spend time or money on it in order for it to pass a retest. So, whilst you’re unlikely to make big money for your car, assuming it’s in reasonable condition, your buyer may get a bargain – and you also avoid the usual outlay of getting various component parts replaced or fixed. 

If your car is not in good health, and you feel that it is probably beyond repair, you might still be able to get some money for it by scrapping it. To do this, you will need to contact your local Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). If they think your car is beyond repair, the AFT will usually send out a trailer to collect it. They will usually want to look at your V5C (vehicle logbook) before coming to a final decision about whether it should be scrapped or repaired. If they decide that the cost of the repairs would be too much, and the car is scrapped, you will usually be issued with a Certificate of Destruction within seven days. The process of scrapping is usually free – and it is possible that they will even pay you for your car’s ‘scrap value.’

If you get your car scrapped, you will need to inform the DVLA as soon as possible – or you could be liable for a fine.

Can a car dealer sell a car with no MOT? 

Yes. It is legal for anyone – including car dealers – to sell a car without a current MOT certificate. However, it is illegal for anybody to sell a car without informing the seller of its status. Despite this, either by accident or by design, many dealers (and private sellers) will not make this clear to buyers – or will, otherwise, get the car’s status wrong. Meaning that many unsuspecting buyers will purchase cars and then get behind the wheel, completely unaware that they’re driving away in an illegal vehicle. 

So that buyers can protect themselves, the DVLA has created a free Online Enquiry Service. By entering a car’s reg number on the DVLA’s website, you are now able to find out a car’s current tax and MOT status. The tax is typically cancelled when a car is sold or traded to a dealer, but the date the tax was cancelled or expired will also be provided. Similarly, the MOT status will be listed. If the MOT is not current and it and the tax expired some time ago, it is often an indication the car has been off the road a while – possibly well before the tax and/or MOT expired. It is usually a good idea to do the requisite due diligence when buying a car, even from a seemingly reputable car dealer. Especially, as these days, it only involves a few taps on a smartphone. 

Most dealers will not purchase cars without a current MOT, as they will be unsure of the current condition of the car without it.

Who will buy a vehicle without a valid MOT certificate? 

The biggest buyers of cars and vans without a valid MOT certificate tend to be online car-buying services and trade dealers. This is because they will usually have access to removal services and are able to collect vehicles relatively cheaply and without much hassle. Whereas a private buyer may struggle to find a suitable method of collecting a vehicle without being able to drive it.

You can also sell vehicles without an up-to-date MOT right here on Motorway – we work directly with 5,000+ verified dealers and scrap buyers to get the best price for all our customers.

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