Driving Without an MOT: What You Need To Know

In this guide

MOTs are a vital part of car ownership and are something that all cars need to go through to ensure that they’re safe to drive and don’t contribute to pollution. The costs of MOTs, and often the inconvenience of having to get them done, can put a lot of drivers off from scheduling them. 

That said, having a car that has a valid MOT certificate is essential and is something that you shouldn’t overlook. Although a test can be considered an extra expense, you should factor it into your annual running costs, as it’s not something you should avoid. 

If you are thinking about driving without an MOT, here’s everything you need to know to decide if it’s a good idea. 

What is an MOT? 

An MOT is an annual inspection of your vehicle that checks to see if it’s safe and meets environmental standards. You must get a yearly MOT on the third anniversary of the car’s registration, as this helps keep the vehicle up to date and prevents things like faults. 

The MOT test was introduced in 1960 and has been vital in keeping UK roads safe since its inception. 

Many car parts are tested in an MOT, and no matter which garage you use, all mechanics and testers will use the same checklist to inspect your car and give you a result. The parts that you can expect to be checked in an MOT include: 


      • Electrical equipment 

      • Steering and suspension 

      • Brakes 

      • Tyres and wheels 

      • Exhausts and emissions 

      • Seat belts 

      • Structure and Body 

      • Mirrors and windscreen wipers 

    Despite being extensive, the MOT does omit a few parts of your vehicle. In a test, the condition of your engine, gearbox, or clutch is not checked and does not factor into the final results. To keep updated about these parts’ condition, booking a service alongside your MOT test for peace of mind is worthwhile. 

    Is it legal to drive without an MOT? 

    If your vehicle has failed its MOT test and the past certificate has expired, you are not allowed to drive it on public roads. This ensures that no faulty and dangerous vehicles are on the UK roads. 

    The only exception is if you’re driving to a pre-booked repair and MOT appointment to get the issues fixed and the car re-tested. Do note that you can only do this if no serious faults were found with your vehicle. If you are stopped by police when on your way to an MOT appointment, you need to be able to show that you have an appointment booked, so there’s no point in lying if you haven’t got this confirmation. 

    Regardless of if you have a booking or not, you can still get a penalty if your vehicle is shown to be dangerous due to the faults. 

    Without a valid MOT, you won’t be able to renew your road tax. This means that if you’re driving a car that has failed its MOT, you’re likely also driving an untaxed vehicle, which is illegal and can get you in a lot of trouble. 

    What are the risks of driving without an MOT? 

    As driving a car without an MOT for any reason other than taking it to a garage to get it fixed is illegal, you’re risking a lot if you’re caught. 

    Recently, police have gotten more powerful technology to find vehicles that are being driven with an MOT. Today, police and CCTV cameras can detect if a car has an invalid MOT by scanning a number plate, meaning that it’s highly likely that you will be caught. 

    If you’re found driving a car without an MOT, you can get stopped by road traffic police and be issued a caution. As well as this, you could also be given a penalty. This includes a hefty fine of £2,500, and you can also have points taken off your licence, which can impact things like insurance. In serious cases, you can also be instantly disqualified from driving. 

    Insurance providers will ask you to produce an up-to-date MOT certificate if you’re involved in an accident. If you don’t have one, you may not be able to claim on your insurance, as this will invalidate it. 

    How do I know when I need an MOT? 

    To ensure you’re not driving illegally without an MOT, it’s a good idea to plan around it and schedule an MOT appointment at least a few weeks before your current certificate expires. One of the best ways to keep updated about your MOT status is to set a reminder in your personal calendar or sign up for a reminder from the DVLA that will be texted or emailed to you. 

    You can also search online to see when your MOT is due. To do this, all you need to do is enter your number plate in a tool, and it will pull up all the registered information about your vehicle, including its MOT status. This check can also be an excellent way to see when your road tax needs to be renewed. Most people will have their road tax and MOT scheduled around the same time, but it’s worth checking to ensure what date you need to renew yours. 


    MOTs are a vital part of car maintenance and are something you are legally required to do. Without a valid MOT, you are not permitted to drive on UK roads unless you’re taking the car to pre-booked appointment, and even so, you could still be punished if the issues are severe. 

    The risks of driving without an MOT are significant, and it’s not worth chancing it, especially as it’s super easy for police to find cars with an expired MOT. Make sure to schedule your MOT test well in advance to avoid any issues and to look after your vehicle properly to help improve its chances of passing the MOT tests first time. 

    With good foresight and planning, there’s no reason why you’d need to even consider driving a car without a valid MOT. 

    Alexander Thomas
    Alexander Thomas
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