Motor Insurance

Can I drive without an MOT?

Taking your car for its annual MOT test is just one of many things you need to remember to do, but what happens if you forget? Here, we look at why MOTs are so important and what the rules are about driving without one.

Taking your car for its annual MOT test is just one of many things you need to remember to do, but what happens if you forget? Here, we look at why MOTs are so important and what the rules are about driving without one.

What is an MOT?

The MOT is an annual test that makes sure your car is roadworthy and safe to drive. All cars aged three years and over must have an MOT but there are a handful of exceptions, for example, some classic cars and licensed Hackney Carriages. You can find a full list of exemptions at GOV.UK.

Your car will be tested according to legal guidelines and can either pass or fail the MOT. Testing will cover various aspects including:

  • Making sure your car’s bodywork is free of excess corrosion and damage
  • Inspecting towbars for security
  • Checking there are no leaks in the fuel system
  • Ensuring seatbelts and mirrors are correctly fitted and in good condition
  • Checking that brakes function properly and haven’t been inappropriately modified
  • Assessing tyres to ensure they have the correct tread depth, are fitted properly and are in roadworthy condition

Bear in mind that an MOT doesn’t provide an in-depth assessment of your car’s mechanics, which should be covered by your service.

If your car passes its MOT, you might be given a list of minor problems which will need checking and potentially repairing in the future. For instance, if your tread depth is nearing the legal minimum.

What happens if my car fails its MOT?

Cars typically fail their MOTs because testers have identified issues that make the car dangerous or unfit to drive. Some of the most common MOT failures are down to faulty or damaged lights, worn brake pads and smeary windscreen wipers.

If the faults identified are particularly severe, you might not be able to drive the car again until it’s fixed.

The testing centre may be able to carry out the necessary repairs but if they don’t, you’ll have to arrange for it to be towed to a garage that can.

How much is an MOT?

MOT tests are price capped – currently, you should expect to pay no more than:

  • £54.85 for cars
  • £29.65 for a standard motorcycle

A full guide to MOT fees is regularly updated at GOV.UK and we've run the numbers on the average cost of an MOT here.

If you're struggling, you may be able to get a free or discounted MOT at Halfords.

Do I need to pay for a retest if my car fails its MOT?

If your car fails its MOT and you leave it at the test centre for repairs, you only need to have it partially retested. If this happens within ten working days, you shouldn’t be charged.

Similarly, you shouldn’t have to pay for a retest if you take your car away to be repaired but bring it back to the same test centre the next working day. However, this only applies to cars that need partial retesting of specific issues, a full list of what those are can be found at GOV.UK.

If you take your car away from the test centre and bring it back within ten working days, you may be charged a small fee (less than the current maximum). If any other circumstances apply, you can expect to pay the full MOT test fee.

Can I drive without a valid MOT?

The short answer is no, you can’t. Unless the vehicle is exempt from the test, your car must have a valid MOT certificate.

The only exception is if you’re driving to a pre-booked MOT test and if you are, you must carry proof of that appointment.

What happens if you drive without an MOT?

The consequences of not having an MOT can be serious and you could face a £1,000 fine. But not only that. Driving without a valid MOT can also invalidate your car insurance and your insurer can refuse to pay out if you make a claim. If the accident was your fault, it would also mean you have to pay to fix other people’s damaged property.

Plus, don’t forget – driving without insurance can lead to an unlimited fine. It can also lead to prosecution and disqualification from driving.

When can I book an MOT?

Your MOT certificate lasts for a year so it’s a good idea to set a reminder in your calendar to get it renewed.

If you want to stay organised, you can book your car in one month minus a day before your existing MOT runs out. This also means you can keep the same renewal date (in other words, you won’t risk your MOT being needed earlier and earlier each year). For example, if your current MOT runs out on the 5 March, you can book a new MOT for the 6 February.

If you book your car in earlier, the renewal date changes to be one year minus one day from the date of passing the test. For instance, if you arranged the MOT for the 30 January (instead of the 6 February) the MOT renewal date would be 31 December the following year.

Who should I book my MOT with?

Your MOT must be carried out by an authorised tester who will display the official MOT testing sign (three white triangles on a blue background). Most towns will have a choice of authorised test centres, but you can also download a list from GOV.UK.

Can I appeal if my car fails its MOT?

If you don’t agree with the decision of the test centre (whether your car has passed or failed) you can contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) using their appeal form.

You can also take your case to Trading Standards, take the MOT test centre to court or even contact the police (on the non-emergency number, 101) if you think the garage needs investigating.

Compare car insurance for peace of mind

Like your MOT, insurance is another essential part of being a car owner and can give you valuable peace of mind. Sadly, unlike MOTs, premiums aren’t capped, and the cost of car cover will be down to a number of factors.

So, to ensure you get the very best deal on a policy that suits you, we’ve teamed up with Quotezone to bring you dozens of quotes from leading insurers. Simply answer a few questions and leave the rest to us.


Our team of writers has expertise in business, car, travel, home and pet insurance as well as personal finance issues.


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