What do I do if my MOT fails?

The options if your car fails the MOT

Almost 30% of cars, vans and small passenger vehicles fail their MOT test.1

We explain the MOT defect categories and what you can do if your vehicle fails its test.

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My vehicle has failed its MOT

If your vehicle fails its MOT, you can leave it at the test centre for essential repairs. As long as the repairs are done within 10 working days of the test, your vehicle can then be retested for free.

If you want your car to be repaired elsewhere, you can still get it retested for free at the original test centre, as long as you return it before the end of the next working day.

You can only take your car elsewhere if the current MOT certificate is still valid and the MOT test didn't report a dangerous defect.

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What are MOT defect categories?

MOT defects are categorised as dangerous, major or minor. A dangerous or major defect will result in a fail.

Dangerous defects
A dangerous defect means the car is unroadworthy. Dangerous defects must be repaired before the car can be driven, as it's illegal to drive an unroadworthy vehicle on the road – even to or from an MOT test.

Major defects
Major defects will also cause your vehicle to fail the MOT test and it must be repaired immediately. But they don't mean the vehicle is unroadworthy. So if the current MOT certificate is still valid and no dangerous defects were found, you can drive it away to get it fixed.

Minor defects
Minor defects are not severe enough to cause the vehicle to fail its MOT, but they should be repaired soon.

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Can I appeal if my vehicle fails the MOT?

If you think the MOT result is wrong, ask the test centre why your vehicle has failed. If you still believe the reasons are incorrect you can appeal.

You'll need to complete a complaint form and send it to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) within 14 working days of the test.

The DVSA will contact you within 5 working days if they decide your vehicle needs a retest. You'll need to pay for a full test, and if the vehicle does pass you'll get a part or full refund of the fee.

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Preparing your vehicle for its MOT

Surprisingly, lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment are the most common culprits for a failed MOT test. Even the condition of your number plate can cause a failure.

For a good chance of passing the test first time, have a look at our pre-MOT checklist.

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MOT test from AA Smart Care

When you book an MOT you get:

  • Testing at AA approved garages.
  • Quick and easy online booking and payment.
  • Repair parts and labour are guaranteed for 1 year or up to 12,000 miles.
  • Fair, transparent pricing.

And if you book a service with an MOT, you can get free vehicle collection and return, subject to availability.

If your car does fail its MOT and you'd like us to make the necessary repairs, we can carry out your retest for free.

1 Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency, April 2021 to March 2022.

Author: The AA

Book your MOT test at an AA approved local garage

Free collection and return when you book a service with an MOT, subject to availability. Repair parts and labour are guaranteed for 1 year or up to 12,000 miles.