If My Car Failed An MOT Can I Drive It?

If your car has failed its MOT, you’ll be told by the tester the reason why it failed and potentially how to fix it. However, the question we get asked a lot is if you can drive your car after it fails an MOT and in this article, we discuss everything you need to know.

Tweet Pin It
can i drive my car if it fails mot
YourCar is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Find out more.

Whether your car failed an emissions test or anything else that was flagged as a dangerous or major defect, you’ll need to arrange a retest once you’ve fixed the problem. However, depending upon whether any dangerous defects were found will determine if you can drive it away from the garage. For example, if you have tyres that are below the minimum tread depth (1.6mm), this would make the car unroadworthy and if you are stopped by the police, you’ll be prosecuted.

To help you understand whether or not you can drive your car after it fails an MOT, below is an example of each scenario.

Can I Drive My Car If It Fails An MOT?

1. MOT Failure of an Early MOT Test

A common question that we get asked a lot is if you take your car to an MOT test early and it fails, can you still drive it until the old MOT expires? The short answer is yes you can still drive your car if it fails an early MOT but only if there are no dangerous defects reported. If there is a dangerous defect found, this would mean that the car is unroadworthy and if you are stopped by the police, you may be prosecuted. As mentioned above, a bald tyre is an example of a dangerous defect and if you drive with a bald tyre, you can expect a fine as well as 3 points (per bald tyre).

We highly recommend that you take your car for an early MOT test (up to 30 days before the due date) because it gives you time to repair anything that may cause your car to fail its MOT. If your car does fail without any dangerous defects (it’s allowed to have a major defect), you can continue to drive it up until the old MOT expires.

2. MOT Failure That’s Past The Expiry

If you were unable to take your car for an early MOT test and it fails on or after the expiry date, the ability to drive your car away is restricted. Although you can drive it away, you are only allowed to drive it to be repaired or to a pre-arranged MOT. However, if the MOT test uncovers a dangerous defect that makes the car unroadworthy, you can’t drive it away. As mentioned above, if you do drive your car with a dangerous defect found by the MOT tester, you can face prosecution if you are stopped by the police.

What Is Classed As A Dangerous MOT Failure?

Dangerous MOT failures are classed as defects with your car that are a direct risk to road safety or have an impact on the environment and need immediate repair. Dangerous defects were introduced in May 2018 and it changed the legality of driving your car away from the garage after a failure. In terms of what is classed as a dangerous MOT failure, below are some of the most common that we come across:

  • Brake pad thickness less than the required limit (1.5mm)
  • Tyres with less than 1.6mm tread depth
  • Leaking hydraulic or brake fluid
  • A fuel pipe that’s leaking continuously or presents a risk of a fire

What Happens If You Drive Without A Valid MOT?

If you are stopped by the police and found to be driving your car without a valid MOT, you can face a fine of up to £1,000. The UK government state this fine upon their MOT history checker as shown in the image below.

What Happens If You Drive Without A Valid MOT

Do I Have To Pay For The Retest?

Depending upon the garage you used to MOT your car, usually there isn’t a fee for a partial retest. Even if there is a fee to pay for the retest, it shouldn’t be as much as the initial cost of the MOT.

As a retest will only check the parts of the MOT that failed, it shouldn’t take long. However, it’s worth pointing out that you can only put your car through a partial MOT retest if it’s retested within 10 working days.

If My Car Fails An MOT Can I Take It Somewhere Else?

As long as you don’t mind paying the full fee for an MOT again, you are allowed to take it elsewhere if it fails. Although you may want to get a second opinion, most MOT testers will only fail a car with a significant defect. Therefore, if you took it elsewhere, the outcome will likely be the same and you’ll end up wasting your money on the second MOT test fee.


To conclude, if your car has failed and the expiry date of your old MOT has passed, you are only allowed to drive your car to be repaired or to a pre-arranged MOT test. However, you are only allowed to do this as long as there was no dangerous defects found with your car. To avoid the hassle if your car does fail its MOT, we highly recommend taking it to a garage that does MOT’s and that you trust to do work on your car. Therefore, if it does fail, it can be left in the garage for the repairs to take place and the retest to occur (at no cost) within the 10 working day limit.

If you require further information with regards to driving your car after failing an MOT, feel free to get in touch and we will try to provide our assistance where possible.

Follow #YourCarUK

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved.