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Can you still use your vehicle if it fails its MOT test?

When the time comes for your vehicle’s annual MOT test, it can be quite an anxious time. Will it pass with flying colours, or will you be handed a list of repairs needed to bring your vehicle up to standard? But what if your vehicle fails the MOT test? Can you still use it? Let’s delve into this common concern and debunk the myths surrounding the topic.


Understanding the MOT Test

Before we explore the aftermath of a failed MOT test, let’s briefly understand what the MOT test entails. The MOT, or Ministry of Transport (test), was introduced in 1960. It is an annual examination of vehicles to ensure they meet safety and environmental standards. It covers a wide range of components, including lights, brakes, steering, emissions, and more. Passing the MOT test is a legal requirement for vehicles over three years old and not having a valid MOT certificate can result in fines and even penalties for insurance claims.


  1. Advisories vs. Failures

During the MOT test, your vehicle might receive ‘minor’ or ‘advisory’ issues that aren’t severe enough to cause a failure. The advisories highlight areas that will need attention soon but won’t render your vehicle unroadworthy. The ‘minor’ items highlight areas that require the work to be carried out ASAP but are not bad enough for the vehicle to fail. However, if your car receives any ‘dangerous’ or ‘Major’ failures, you are not legally able to drive it. You can be fined up to £2,500, be banned from driving, and get 3 penalty points for driving a vehicle that has failed its MOT test because of a ‘dangerous’ or ‘Major’ problem.


  1. Driving a failed vehicle

If the MOT test has failed with a ‘dangerous’ defect, then the vehicle should under no circumstances be driven on a public highway. If the vehicle fails with a ‘Major’ defect, the same rules apply, however, there is slightly more leniency as if you are taking the vehicle somewhere else for the repair, you are legally allowed to drive it to that place of repair, and home again. However, if you have a ‘dangerous’ defect and are having the repair done elsewhere, then this means the vehicle should be recovered (not towed). A common question that is asked is ‘even if my vehicle has failed, can I still drive it up to the length of my previous MOT certificate?’ and the answer is no. If the vehicle has failed, then repair needs to be carried out straight away and you are no longer covered from the failure date.


  1. Repairing the Issues & Retesting

When your vehicle fails the MOT test, the testing station will provide you with a list of issue/s that caused the failure. It’s essential to address these issues promptly. You can choose to have the repairs done at the same MOT testing station or take your vehicle elsewhere for repairs (as long as the appointment is pre-booked) please see the above section for details on this. If the repairs are completed at a different garage from where you had the MOT test carried out, you’ll need to book a retest to ensure your car now meets the required standards. Depending on the failure item/s, you may be subject to a partial MOT retest fee. If however, the repair is being carried out by the same garage as where the MOT test had taken place, then usually the retest is completed free of charge. You have up to 10 working days for the repair to be completed and the retest to be carried out before a full MOT test would have to take place, which also means another full MOT test fee.


  1. Insurance and Warranty

It’s crucial to note that if you’re driving a vehicle with a failed MOT test, your insurance might be void. This means that if you’re involved in an accident, your insurance company may not cover the damages. Additionally, if your car is under warranty, a failed MOT test due to issues covered by the warranty may mean you can get the necessary repairs done free of charge.


  1. Preventive Maintenance

Rather than waiting for the MOT test to uncover problems, it’s advisable to keep up with regular vehicle maintenance. This can help you identify potential issues before they escalate, ensuring a smoother MOT test experience.


MOT test Appeals

Should you feel the MOT test result is not correct, you can appeal. You must submit an appeal to the DVSA within 14 working days of the test, and you will then be contacted within 5 days to discuss the appeal.


In conclusion, while a failed MOT test might sound like a nightmare scenario, it does not mean your car is doomed. It is imperative to address the issues that led to the failure as soon as possible. Ignoring major failures could lead to legal consequences, fines, and, most importantly, compromise your safety and the safety of others on the road. Stay proactive about your vehicle’s maintenance, and you’ll be better equipped to handle the annual MOT test with confidence and peace of mind.

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