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The rules for failing and passing the new MOT 2018

The rules for failing and passing the new MOT 2018

If your vehicle is more than three years old, it’ll need an MOT every year – a test carried out by qualified examiners to check it’s roadworthy. You can get caught out in two ways – forgetting it’s due, or failing part of the test. With rules that changed after 20 May 2018, here’s what you need to know.

The new MOT rules

The new rules will categorise defects as either: dangerous, major or minor. On the old MOT your vehicle got a pass, a pass with some advisory faults, or a fail.

If you live in Northern Ireland some different rules apply for MOTs.

There are also going to be new look MOT test result certificates.

MOT fails

Dangerous – Your vehicle fails if it has a dangerous fault. The vehicle cannot be driven until the fault has been repaired.

Major – Your vehicle fails if it has a major fault. The repair needs to be made as soon as possible.

You can find out what faults are dangerous and major on the GOV.UK site.

MOT passes

Pass – Your vehicle passes and meets the legal standard.

Advisory – Your vehicle passes but there is an issue that you’ll need to keep an eye on, and repair if it gets worse.

Minor – Your vehicles passes, but has an issue that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. If you don’t get it fixed it could get much worse.

The difference between Dangerous and Major MOT faults - and when you can drive 

In short, with a dangerous fault you cannot drive your car.

With a major fault, you might be able to drive your car if it is still roadworthy.

Remember: You can have your MOT carried out up to a month before your old MOT is due to run out, and the anniversary date will still be one year after the old certificate date – effectively meaning the MOT certificate will last for 13 months.

If your vehicle fails its MOT before your old MOT certificate expires:

• You can’t drive it with dangerous faults. These need to be repaired first. If you use a vehicle with a dangerous fault you can be fined £2,500, be banned from driving and get three points on your licence. This is because your vehicle is automatically recorded as no longer road legal on the UK’s digital vehicle database, so the authorities will know about its condition.

• You can drive your vehicle with a major fault if your old MOT is still valid, because you took your vehicle in for an MOT early. But your vehicle does have faults that may make it unroadworthy, and if stopped by the police you could be prosecuted.

If your vehicle fails the MOT on the same day as your MOT certificate expires:

• You may take your vehicle to get it repaired after is has failed its MOT test but you cannot use a vehicle with dangerous faults, or you can be fined £2,500, be banned from driving and get three penalty points. If it has major faults you can drive it to get repairs, but if the police stop and deem it unroadworthy  you could be prosecuted.

• You can drive your vehicle to a test station for an MOT test booked in advance, although you would have needed to have any faults repaired so that it is roadworthy  – and of course, without repairs, it is unlikely to pass an MOT. Again, dangerous faults uncorrected make it illegal to use on the road and you could get a fine and a driving ban.

Read more details on the new MOT categories on the GOV.UK blog.

Take a look at everything else that’s changed with the new MOT rules.

What to do if your vehicle has a dangerous fault

If your MOT results show a dangerous fault, you won’t be able to drive it anywhere. This doesn’t mean you have to have the repairs carried out at the garage that MOT’d it, though.

You should get a quote for the work that needs to be done for the car to MOT’d at the garage you’re at, and then find a few others and see how much they’d charge. You might find, even with a towing fee, you can get it fixed for less.


If your vehicle fails an MOT and you leave it with the test centre for repair, you’ll have a partial retest. As long as this is done within 10 working days of failing the MOT, it’s done for free.

If you take your vehicle away for repairs, and return it before the end of the next working day, the test is normally free. Whether it’s free or not depends on which parts are retested – you can see a full list online. If you return within 10 working days to the same test centre for a partial retest, you’ll get charged a lower fee, but it won’t be free.

You can find out more about retests on the GOV.UK website

What do you think?

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  • Alan / 1 August 2018

    Whether the retest is a partial or full test depends on what repairs needed to be made to the vehicle. There's a list of the items that qualify for a partial retest on the website

  • Anna / 1 August 2018

    I had my car tested at a garage around the corner from where I have moved a few weeks ago. It failed, which I expected, but was slightly surprised that they did not pick up the hole in the exhaust and I made the mistake and told them that. I took it to a different garage to have the faults mentioned on the MOT sheet repaired as the first garage seemed a bit dodgy (asked for the full MOT price and put some pressure on me to pick up the car much earlier than their actual closing time, only have a mobile number etc...). Now I booked it in for a partial retest with the first garage and guess what? The garage said they will have to do a full retest despite it is still within the 10 days because the work had been done by a different garage.
    Is this ok?

  • Alan / 31 July 2018

    You can get an MOT up to a month (minus a day) before it runs out and keep the same renewal date. For example, if your MOT was due to run out on 15 June, you would be able to book an MOT on 16 May and the MOT would last until 15 June the following year. Hope that helps.

  • Geoff Meiklejohn / 31 July 2018

    But.......How many days before MOT expiry date can you present your vehicle ?

  • Stephen Ward / 30 June 2018

    I think it all depends on whether people are interested in their cars or not. If you care for your car and it's importance to you there should be no problem. Checking Lights, fluid levels, tyres, fluid leaks and what they mean, bodywork and so on should be second nature. I do it all the time. This year I failed on emissions, but you can't check that until some sticks a tube in your exhaust. I also failed on a cv boot, strange that as I checked it only 2 weeks before when I had the wheels off to clean and wax them on the inside, but yes it needed changing. No big deal if you keep your eye on things and know what your car is saying to you. The moral is if it's broke you need it fixed, even if it is nothing to do with an MOT. Last year I needed a heater matrix, you can imagine what is involved there. But I still passed my legal MOT, but not my own. My car is 18 years old, so I need to be on top of things, but it still looks better than a lot of much newer cars I see.