What to do if you fail your MOT

What to do if you fail your MOT


Every car owner in the UK needs to pass the annual MOT inspection in order to keep their vehicle ‘street legal.’ But what do you do if your car fails the test? 

Repairs can be costly and you won’t be left with much choice. You’ll have to have them done reasonably quickly — or do without your car until you whatever’s broken gets fixed.  

One way to avoid being in that position is to understand what an MOT inspection looks for. That way you’ll be able to anticipate whether your car is likely to pass or fail.  

And if you think a failure might be on the cards, it's a good idea to have a range of car repair payment options at the ready. That way if you do get caught out by an expensive set of MOT-mandated fixes, you’ll be able to manage it with minimum pain. 

So forewarned is forearmed. Here’s everything you need to prepare for a possible MOT #fail.  

What is an MOT? 

The MOT itself is carried out according to the UK’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. It’s the annual check that makes sure you vehicle is roadworthy and won’t pose a risk to yourself or other drivers.  

Every vehicle older than 3 years must have a valid MOT certificate prior to it being driven on public roads. If you don’t have a valid MOT, and you’re caught, you can receive a fine of up to £1,000. Plus, your insurance company is within its rights to invalidate a claim if you can’t prove your vehicle was roadworthy at the time of the incident.  

Considering the maximum price a garage can charge to carry out an MOT is £54.85 for cars, that is nothing in comparison to a potentially hefty fee and invalid insurance.  

In order to pass the MOT, your vehicle has to meet a strict set of criteria, based on your car’s size, age and class. If it doesn’t meet these criteria, and any faults are identified as being dangerous or illegal, your vehicle will automatically fail the MOT.  

For any shortcomings that aren’t dangerous now, but could be down the line, they’ll be flagged up as advisory, meaning you’ll need to remedy them prior to your next MOT.  

The average MOT takes 45 minutes and can be carried out in one of over 20,000 licensed MOT stations in the UK.  

What happens if you fail the inspection? 

If you fail the MOT, your car can stay at the garage for repairs and be partially rechecked for a free MOT within 10 working days. If more than 10 days goes by, the car will need to go through a full MOT again at full cost.  

If you take your vehicle to a different garage for repairs, it can be re-inspected for half the normal MOT cost.  

The half-price re-test discount can only be used once, so if your vehicle fails again, you’re liable to pay for a full MOT at the next test.  

How to tell if it's time for an MOT 

If you’ve had your vehicle tested at a garage before, they’ll likely send you a reminder when it’s next due. But if you have recently purchased the vehicle, or you haven’t heard from the garage, you can easily go online to check when your existing MOT certificate expires.  

What’s does the MOT checklist include? 

It’s advisable to know what is being checked during an MOT, so you don’t get any nasty surprises. By knowing beforehand if there are any issues with your car, you can get them remedied prior to submitting it for its MOT.  

If you’ve got extended warranty cover through a third party provider such as Warranty Direct, check to see if any mechanical or electrical issues are covered and get them fixed prior to the MOT.  

MOT checklist includes:  

  • The number plate. This needs to be the right colour, fully legible and display the correct registration format for the year your car was manufactured. The font should also be the correct one and the plate itself an appropriate size.
  • Lights and indicators. It’s worth noting, some cars have more lights than are legally required, but if your car does have extra lights, they all must work. If it’s there, it needs to be functioning.
  • Headlights - clear with unmarked lenses 
  • Indicators - must flash 
  • Number plate, reversing lights and fog lights - all in working order 
  • Brake lights - must illuminate when the brake pedal is pressed 
  • Tyres. These need to meet the legal minimum requirement in the UK of 1.6mm. Tyres should also not have bulges or cracks - if they do, they will fail.
  • Windscreen wipers. These need to be in good working order and be effective at clearing dirt from your windscreen. Side note - rear wipers aren’t checked.
  • Screenwash. Must be topped up and jets angled correctly.
  • Seat and seat belts. Must be in good, workable order.

10 common MOT failures 

Knowing what is being checked is one thing, but also knowing what are common MOT failures, should help you ensure your car is in top condition, prior to being checked.  

  1. Broken light bulbs
  2. Suspension issues
  3. Spongy brakes
  4. Illegal tyres
  5. Cracked windscreen obscuring driver’s view
  6. Stickers on the windscreen that could obscure your view
  7. Emissions
  8. Lack of power steering fluid
  9. Non-retracting seat belts
  10. Missing airbags

Worried that your next MOT might result in a hefty repair bill? Use Bumper to split your bill into interest-free instalments. You can benefit from 'buy now, pay later’ car repairs at over 3,000 trusted garages nationwide.  

Check out our How it Works page and take the stress out of your next garage visit. 

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