What to do if you fail your car MOT?


In the UK, every vehicle over 3 years old requires a valid MOT certificate and it must be renewed once a year. It is the driver’s responsibility to make sure that your car has a valid MOT certificate and if you are unsure, you can check the MOT status of a vehicle online.

Prior to your MOT, there are a few ways in which you can prevent your car from failing an MOT test but what do you do if your car does fail? Can you still drive it? Is it safe to be on the roads?

How do you know if your car has failed an MOT?

After your MOT test you will receive a test result. After the MOT rule changes in 2018, your test result will fall into 1 of 3 categories, dangerous, major or minor. An MOT fail consists of either a dangerous or major test result.

  • A dangerous fault is a direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment and the vehicles should not be driven until the fault is repaired. Dangerous faults can be having no functioning brake lights, or a steering wheel so loose that it’s likely to become detached.
  • A major test result is a risk which may be a risk to road safety, and you could be able to still drive your car if it is still deemed roadworthy. However, you should get the fault fixed as soon as possible.

Your car has failed its MOT: what do you do next?

You will be provided with a ‘Refusal of an MOT test certificate’ (VT30) which will have your details and your cars details, the MOT test number and also the specific reasons why your car did not pass its MOT.

Booking a MOT retest

Your car is very important to you, so you want to get it back on the road as soon as possible! You can leave your car with the MOT centre if they also do repairs and book it in for a retest or if you want to take it to a different repair and test centre, you can take the car elsewhere but remember to take the VT30 certificate with you! If your car has a dangerous fault which may be costly to repair, you could consider getting a used car on finance instead!

If you want to take a retest, you will need to fix the issue on your refusal test certificate first. There are a few different retest options available.


  • Leave it to be fixed. You can get your vehicle fixed immediately and if the work is repaired within 10 working days then you can get a ‘partial retest’ which only test the repair which needed doing. This can save you time and money!
  • Get the vehicle fixed elsewhere. You can take your car to be repaired at a repair centre and then bring the car back to the MOT test centre within 1 working day for a free partial retest.
  • Fix it within 10 working days. You can take the car to be fixed elsewhere and then bring the car back within 10 working days. You can then get a partial retest, but you will have to pay for a retest, it is usually half of the original testing cost.
  • Bring the car back after 10 working days. If you bring your car back 10 days after the original MOT test with the vehicle fixed, then you will have to pay for a full MOT.

Can I appeal a failed MOT?

If your car has failed its MOT and you feel like it has been an unfair outcome, then you can choose to appeal it. You should discuss your MOT test result with the MOT centre first to fully understand the faults and why they failed your car, this can promote clear communication on both sides. You should then send an email or letter to the DVSA within 14 working days of your MOT test and they will discuss your appeal with you. If the DVSA recommend that you get a retest, you will need to pay the full amount yourself and if your appeal is successful then you will receive some or all of the MOT test fee.