The annual MOT test is a must-do for every driver. You don’t have to get your car serviced. But when your car reaches its third birthday you do need to put it through an annual MOT roadworthiness check.
When can you take the MOT
The law states: “You can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date.” It’s always a good idea to book your MOT in advance of its expiry. That way, if the car fails, you have choices. You can take your time to pick the garage that will be doing the remedial work if it’s required. You can even shop around for and buy your own parts, if you think this will save you money.
What if it fails? Can you still drive your car?
Another reason for taking your car to its test early is that if it fails you can still drive the car. You did read that correctly. A valid MOT remains applicable to a car until it expires, even if the car fails a more recent test. However, that isn’t a licence to continue driving as if nothing’s happened.
Driving an unroadworthy car
If your car has failed its MOT, it will have done so for a reason, probably because it’s unroadworthy in some respect. If you are involved in an accident caused by this defect or you’re stopped by the police and they inspect your car, you could be prosecuted for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. You can’t claim ignorance here, particularly as the fault will have been flagged up at the test. And for that you can be fined up to £2500, be banned from driving and have three penalty points added to your licence.
What if your MOT expires?
Driving a car without a valid MOT can result in a fine of up to £1000. It could mean your insurance is invalid too. If your car fails its MOT on the same day as the MOT expires, you can still drive it. But you need one of two very good reasons: you can be taking the vehicle to have its defects fixed; or you can be taking it for a pre-arranged MOT appointment.
Having a re-test
If your car’s re-tested, have it carried out before the end of the next working day. That way you won’t have to pay for more than the original test. Equally, if the vehicle only needs a partial re-test and that’s carried out within 10 working days without it leaving the garage or test centre, you won’t incur extra costs either.
I’ve been writing about cars and motoring for more than 25 years. My career started on a long-departed classic car weekly magazine called AutoClassic. I’ve since pitched up at Autosport, Auto Express, the News of the World, Sunday Times and most recently the Daily Telegraph. When I’m not writing about cars and motoring, I’m probably doing some kind of sport or working in my garden.