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What happens when your car fails an MOT?

If your car doesn’t pass its MOT test, what happens.

MOT testing bay

MOT testing bay

An MOT lasts a year, but you can have an MOT carried out up to a month (less one day) before the current MOT certificate expires. You can check the MOT status of a vehicle online.

MOT failure

If your car fails its MOT:

  • You will be given a refusal of MOT certificate (VT30)

  • Your vehicle must be repaired and retested to comply with MOT standards

  • You may not be covered by your insurance, so you are advised not to drive it, except to an approved test centre or a garage for repairs.

Your refusal of MOT certificate will state why your vehicle failed its MOT and what needs to be fixed in order for it to pass. The repairs needed could be specialised such as welding jobs or emissions failures, so it may not be possible to make them there and then.

If your car can be tested, repaired and retested at the same location within a 10-working day period then there should be no additional charge for retesting, this is known as a partial re-examination. Although, there are certain repairs that cannot be fixed under a partial re-examination.

A partial re-examination will check the items that the car failed on in the original MOT test as long as they are one or more of the following items.

| Bonnet | Bootlid | Brake pedal | Antislip | Wheels and tyres |

| Indicators | Doors | Dropsides | Fuel cap filler | Loading door |

| Hazard warning | Horn | Lamps | Seat belts | Registration plates |

| Mirrors | Rear reflectors | Tailboard | Steering wheel | Sharp edges |

| Tailgate | VIN | Windscreen and glass | Wipers and washers | Seats |

If the repairs do not come under the list of items under a partial re-examination then you will need to pay for a second full MOT test.

If you return the car for retest after the 10 working day period then you will have to pay for a second full MOT test.

Once the vehicle has been fixed you will need to have it retested by an approved MOT testing station.

If your MOT runs out:

  • You must arrange to have an MOT

  • You should not drive your vehicle, unless to the test centre

  • You could be prosecuted for driving your vehicle

What is included in the MOT test?

Interior checksExterior checks
Seats and seat beltsRegistration plates
Warning lampsLamps, registration plate lamps
Switches (position lamp, headlamp, hazards)Indicators, hazards
View to front, wipers and washersHeadlamps and aim
Brake controls, servo operationStop lamps, fog lamps, reflectors
Steering wheel and columnWheels, tyres
Doors, mirrors, hornShock absorbers
Speedometer, driver’s controls (Class 5*)Mirrors, wiper blades, fuel tank cap
Doors, boot lid, loading doors, bonnet
Glazing (Class 5)
General condition of body
Under bonnet checksUnder vehicle checks
Vehicle structureSteering including power steering
Braking systemsDrive shafts (if applicable)
Exhaust systems, fuel systemSuspension, shock absorbers
Speed limiter (if applicable)Headlamps and aim
Brake controls, servo operationWheel bearings
Steering and power steering componentsWheels and tyres
Suspension componentsBrake systems and mechanical components
Exhaust system
Fuel system and fuel tank
Structure general vehicle condition

*Class five vehicles are private passenger vehicles and ambulances

About the Author

Nicole Ferguson

Staff writer at Arnold Clark