What happens if you fail your MOT?

No driver wants their car to fail its MOT but doing so is more common than you might think. According to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA), just over a third (33.6%) of class 3 and 4 vehicles (such as cars and vans) failed their MOTs between 2018 and 2019.

Even if you think your car is running perfectly, there’s a chance it’ll be hit by MOT failure codes. So, what exactly happens if you fail your MOT test?

What is an MOT failure?

If your car fails its MOT, it means the tester has found a ‘major’ or ‘dangerous’ problem with your vehicle covering any of the sections of the test. View our MOT checklist to learn more about what parts of your vehicle can fail an MOT test.

You will fail your MOT with these sorts of issues because significant problems can put yourself, other road users, road infrastructure or the environment at serious risk. They are so hazardous they must be repaired and retested for your car to be passed as road legal.

What if you fail your MOT? What happens?

If you fail your MOT, you need to get the defects listed on the VT30 ‘Refusal of MOT’ certificate repaired. You must then arrange another MOT test and pass it.

You will only be able to drive the vehicle in three circumstances:

  1. If you are going to a garage for repairs
  2. If you travel to an MOT centre for a retest
  3. If the previous MOT certificate is still valid and no ‘dangerous’ problems were found, you can drive the car normally until the certificate expires – but you’ll still need to repair the issues and get a retest.

If a dangerous defect is found on your MOT, by law you cannot drive it elsewhere – if you want to move the vehicle to another garage, you must pay to get it towed.

Bear in mind that your insurance may no longer cover you if you receive an MOT fail result, even if your certificate is still valid. Also, once the MOT certificate expires, both your insurance and tax will be invalid, so it’s crucial you do not drive your vehicle if this is the case.

How to get repairs after an MOT failure

To fix the issues on the VT30, you’ll need to get your car repaired. You can do this at the workshop where your car received its MOT, tow the car to a different garage, or, if there are no ‘dangerous’ defects listed, drive it somewhere else yourself.

All the issues listed must be repaired. If you fail the MOT retest and they appear again, you must get the problems repaired and pass a third retest. Talk to the owner of the garage that performed the repairs if this happens to you, as it’s an extremely rare occurrence that may indicate they do not meet MOT centre standards.

How to organise a retest after failing your MOT

Your vehicle will need to get an MOT retest after it’s been repaired so it’s no longer classified as having failed its MOT. There are three options here:

  • If you left the vehicle to be repaired at the MOT test centre, you can get them to repair the issues within 10 working days and undertake a partial retest, which will cost less than a full MOT would – or free, if you go with National.
  • If you take the car to another garage for repair and return it by the end of the next working day for a retest, you can get a partial retest for free.
  • If another garage repairs your vehicle and you return it to us within 10 working days, you can get a retest for a reduced price.
  • If you come back to us for a retest after 10 days or go to a different test centre for the retest, you’ll have to pay for a full MOT.
  • If you do not want to get the car retested but want to keep it, you’ll need to apply for a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN) for your vehicle.

Due to the hassle involved with failing your MOT, it’s a good idea to get your MOT booked in at your local National Tyres and Autocare branch well before its due date – around a month before is a good rule of thumb as that will allow you to keep your normal expiry date. This ensures that if there are any issues you can organise repairs and a retest in good time.

Book your MOT 

For more information on getting an MOT retest, contact our team online or call us today. Alternatively, visit our information hub to learn more about MOT topics.


We now offer a free MOT Reminder Service to take the hassle out of remembering your MOT and to avoid any last minute panics. Sign up for FREE at www.national.co.uk/mot-reminder and we'll email you a month before your MOT is due to expire.

* Not all MOT ramps can accommodate a Motorhome, please check before travelling

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