If my car fails its MOT, how long do I have to fix it?

    All vehicles must pass a Ministry of Transport, or MOT, exam to legally drive in the UK. Should your vehicle fail this safety and environmental test, it will need to be repaired before you can get behind the wheel again. 

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    You should prioritise fixing your car as soon as possible after failing a vehicle MOT check. Many repairs can be done directly at your test centre or externally at a certified garage. If repairs are completed quickly, your car could qualify for a free MOT retest. It is illegal to drive without a valid MOT certificate. Doing so could mean risking fines up to £1,000, points on your licence, or even a total driving ban. Plus, MOT failure can have a big impact on price when you decide to sell your vehicle.

    MOT test failure

    Common reasons why cars fail the MOT include faulty lights, worn-out brakes, and other easy fixes.

    The MOT test is a mandatory inspection in the UK to ensure that vehicles meet safety and environmental standards. Conducted annually for cars over three years old in England, Scotland, and Wales, and annually for those four years or older in Northern Ireland, the MOT evaluates the functionality of crucial car components and checks if your vehicle’s emissions abide by existing standards

    MOT failure indicates that your vehicle does not meet the required safety and environmental standards. You cannot drive a car that has failed the MOT, unless you’re going to get it repaired. 

    Millions of cars fail the MOT test every year, often for issues that can be easily fixed. Common reasons for MOT failure include worn-out brakes, faulty lights, and exhaust emissions exceeding acceptable levels. Regular maintenance and pre-MOT checks can significantly reduce the likelihood of failure. 

    What to do after failing an MOT

    1. Review the VT30 MOT test failure certificate, which outlines specific issues or defects that need to be addressed for your vehicle to be considered roadworthy. 

    2. Find a reliable mechanic or garage to make repairs; ensure that replacement parts are high quality and meet MOT standards. Keep all receipts and documentation.

    3. Schedule MOT retest after repairs are made. Repaired vehicles must undergo and pass an MOT retest before they can be driven again.

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    MOT repair and retesting timeframe

    If your vehicle fails an MOT, prioritise repairs. While there’s no strict deadline for organising repairs and retesting after MOT failure, doing so quickly will get you back in the driver’s seat faster. 

    Many MOT testing centres perform vital repairs after test failure. Even better, most centres offer free retests if repairs are made within ten working days of your initial failed exam. 

    Certified garages can also fix identified MOT issues and, if you return your car to the original test centre before the end of the next work day, you qualify for a free MOT retest. This option is only applicable if your current MOT test certificate is valid and your initial test didn’t uncover any dangerous defects.

    A good rule of thumb is to repair all reported issues before your current MOT certificate expires. MOT certificates are valid for 12 months after they are issued, so it’s best practice to schedule your MOT test with plenty of time before your current certificate expires. You can easily check your MOT status online if you’re unsure of what this timeline is for you.

    Preparing for an MOT retest

    Motorway advises scheduling repairs and retesting as soon as possible after failing your MOT exam.

    After you’ve completed all necessary repairs, it’s time to redo your MOT exam. Contact the MOT testing centre to book an retest appointment. Retests within ten working days of the initial failure are often free. However, costs may apply if repairs take longer, so triple check fees with the testing centre while booking to avoid unnecessary financial surprises.

    Make sure to bring all documentation of the repairs conducted after the initial MOT failure, as well as your VT30 MOT test failure certificate, to demonstrate compliance with MOT regulations. 

    It’s also smart to conduct a quick inspection of your car to ensure that all repairs have been successfully completed before heading into the retest. Verify that essential components, such as brakes, lights, and tires, meet MOT standards and check dashboard warning lights. Review our top tips for passing your MOT for more.


    Can I sell my car if it failed the MOT test?

    Technically, you can sell a car without a valid MOT, but it will be much more difficult. You must disclose the car’s MOT failure to potential buyers. Remember that buyers are looking for safe used vehicles, and lacking an MOT certificate reduces your buyer pool and your vehicle’s sales price

    If your car fails the MOT test and you’re looking to get rid of it, another option could be to sell it for scrap. However, you can’t legally drive a car with a failed MOT, even to the garage or scrapyard.

    What if my car fails the MOT test multiple times?

    Repeated failures necessitate thorough diagnosis and repairs. Consult with a skilled mechanic to address underlying issues. Continuous failures may indicate a deeper problem requiring attention. 

    It is illegal to continue driving a car that’s failed its MOT, so you may want to consider parts exchanging your vehicle

    Can I temporarily fix minor issues to pass the MOT test?

    Temporary fixes for minor issues may be insufficient. It’s recommended to address problems properly to ensure a successful and long-term pass during the full MOT test.

    Is my car still insured if it fails the MOT test?

    A valid MOT certificate is often necessary for insurance coverage, however, check your insurance policy terms to see if this is true for you. Remember: driving an unroadworthy vehicle could jeopardise your insurance coverage, which is a legal requirement in the UK. See our ultimate guide to the MOT for more information and use our vehicle MOT check tool to see whether your car is roadworthy.

    Need to sell your car?

    Want to learn more about owning, maintaining, and selling your car? Check out more of our guides here, covering everything from Clean Air Zones to car tax, and plate changes to part exchange.