What do I do if my MOT fails?

Your options if your car fails its MOT test

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

Up to a third of vehicles fail the MOT test, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) - many for minor things that can easily be prevented or quickly be repaired. 

What do I do if my vehicle fails its MOT?

If your vehicle fails its MOT, you can leave it at the test centre where they’ll carry out the essential repairs needed. As long as these repairs are done within 10 working days of failing the MOT, your vehicle can then be partially retested for free.

If you’d rather take your car away to be repaired somewhere else, you can usually 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 your current MOT test certificate is still valid and your vehicle is roadworthy (i.e. the MOT didn't reveal a defect classed as 'dangerous'). 

If you book your MOT through Smart Care, we’ll do everything we can to get your vehicle back on the road as safely as possible.

We’ll carry out any essential work needed at the same garage within 10 days and do a retest free of charge. Plus, you'll get a 12-month guarantee on all parts and labour.

Need an MOT? Book with Smart Care and we'll take care of it.

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What do the MOT defect categories mean?

MOT defects are categorised as ‘dangerous’, ‘major’ or ‘minor’ – a dangerous or major defect will result in a fail. You can appeal the result if you think it’s wrong.

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 for an unroadworthy vehicle to be driven on the road at any time  including to or from an MOT test. 

Major defects

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

Minor defects

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

Can I appeal if my MOT fails?

If you think the result of your MOT is wrong, the first thing you should do is speak to the MOT test centre and understand exactly why your vehicle has failed. If you still believe the reasons to be incorrect, you're entitled to appeal.

To do so, you'll need to fill in a complaint form and send it to DVSA within 14 working days of the test.

If the DVSA decides you have grounds for your appeal, you'll be contacted and will need to arrange a date for a retest, which you'll have to pay for. If the vehicle passes the retest, you'll be refunded the full retest fee.

How can I prepare my vehicle for its MOT?

Many vehicles fail their MOT because of small issues like faulty bulbs or even a dirty number plate, so we’ve put together a pre-MOT checklist to give your car the best possible chance of passing the test first time. 

Why should I use AA Smart Care for my car’s MOT?

Whether your vehicle passes or fails the MOT test, we’ll contact you straight away to discuss your options.

If it passes, we’ll highlight any recommended minor advisory work that'll need to be done in the future. We can also provide a quote for completing this work.

If your car fails its MOT and you’d like us to make the necessary repairs, we’ll carry out your retest for free.

Other benefits of booking through Smart Care include:

  • All garages are checked against our highest standards in order to become AA approved.
  • Parts and labour guaranteed for 1 year or up to 12,000 miles.
  • We speak with the garage on your behalf, so you can be sure you’ll pay the right price for the right service.

AA approved MOTs, services and repairs at a local garage near you

Book with Smart Care and get fixed pricing with no hidden extras, plus parts and labour guaranteed for 1 year or up to 12,000 miles.