MOT Myth Busters

Blog post posted on 22/03/23 |

 From MOT to road tax to insurance, there’s a lot to remember when running and owning a vehicle. Waiting for the result of an MOT test can be an anxious time, so it’s best to be prepared. Identifying problems and carrying out basic maintenance prior to the MOT could help you avoid any unexpected costs. If you have a regular garage you use, they will offer a pre-MOT test, which should save you from an embarrassing failure or a costly re-test.

IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s leading road safety charity, is on hand to debunk some of the myths surrounding the MOT.

Can I drive without an MOT?

No, you can’t drive a vehicle without it having a valid MOT certificate. The only exception is that you're able to drive your vehicle to a pre-booked MOT test. If you have sorned the vehicle, you may drive it to the MOT but must tax it to continue using it on the road.

Does running out of screen wash count as a failure?

Despite being a simple check, many cars fail an MOT test for having no washer fluid. Ensure you regularly check your screen wash level, whether your MOT test is due or not, as, especially in poor driving conditions, your windscreen can soon become dirty and restrict your view of the road. Screen wash is cheap and easy to find in local shops and garages.

What about tyre pressure?

If the Tyre Pressure Monitoring System warning light is on, your car will automatically fail, so keep an eye on your tyre pressure and check it regularly. Having an underinflated or overinflated tyre can also cause strain on your tyres, heightening your chances of them becoming damaged and therefore also causing your car to fail its MOT.

Is a cracked windscreen an MOT failure?

Your car might fail its MOT if its windscreen is damaged. Windscreen chip MOT rules mean that a chip of 40mm anywhere in the swept area of the windscreen will result in failure, but even a smaller chip of as little as 10mm can result in MOT failure if it’s within a certain area of the windscreen centred at the steering wheel, as this means it’s in the driver’s line of vision.

What about fog lights?

The check of rear fog lamps only applies to the one mandatory rear fog lamp that must be fitted to the centre or offside of the vehicle.

Is my car insurance still valid if my car fails its MOT?

A valid MOT certificate is usually a requirement of your policy. Some companies may just need your vehicle to be roadworthy, but it’s best to check with your insurance provider before travelling for your pre-booked MOT.

Is there a grace period for the MOT?

Despite the misconceptions, once your MOT certificate has expired, it is illegal to be driving your vehicle on the road unless the vehicle is registered in the historic category.

Richard Gladman, Chief Examiner at IAM RoadSmart, says:

"If you have had your vehicle on SORN and the MOT has expired, make sure you stay within the law to get it re-tested. You can travel to and from a pre-booked MOT without taxing the vehicle, but there must be an insurance policy for that vehicle in force.

Make sure you check over the obvious stuff before presenting it for testing; it is embarrassing and expensive to fail for an empty washer bottle or a defective bulb. If you are doing regular checks before driving or riding, an MOT failure should not creep up on you."