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MOT confusion leaves motorists at risk of driving unsafe cars or driving illegally

  • Millions of drivers don’t understand the MOT process.
  • 44% of drivers are unaware that an expired MOT would risk invalidating their car insurance.     
  • 26% of motorists think an MOT guarantees their car will be safe to drive for the next 12 months. 
  • GoCompare customers buying car insurance cover before 15 June are eligible for an MOT for a tenner voucher, a saving around £442.

Millions of drivers don’t understand the process of getting a car MOTed, according to new research1 from GoCompare Car Insurance.

The study reveals widespread confusion over the procedure, the information provided about test results and the consequences of their car failing its MOT.  Alarmingly, 44% of those surveyed were unaware that an expired MOT would risk invalidating their car insurance.      

6% of drivers admit they don’t understand the MOT process, while a further 8% say they are confused about MOT jargon surrounding the categories of passes and failures.  Of those surveyed, 7% said they don’t understand what an ‘advisory’ repair means in relation to their MOT, worryingly 8% don’t know the difference between ‘minor’, ‘major’ and ‘dangerous’ faults.  

The research also revealed that 26% of motorists mistakenly think that the MOT test guarantees that their car will be safe to drive for the next 12 months, while 6% erroneously believe garages have a percentage of cars they are required to fail.  

Cars more than three years old are tested annually to ensure they are roadworthy and safe to drive – this year, 2.3 million cars will be due their first MOT.  The MOT test produces a pass or fail outcome – from a straightforward pass to a failed test with ‘dangerous’ or ‘major’ faults.  The category applied will depend on the type and seriousness of the problem. 

MOT result category What this means How this affects the test result
Dangerous Direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment.  Do not drive until repaired. Fail  
Major    The car’s safety may be affected, other road users may be at risk, or it may have an impact on the environment.  Repair it immediately. Fail
Minor No significant effect on the safety of the vehicle or have an impact on the environment.  Repair as soon as possible. Pass
Advisory It could become more serious in the future.  Monitor and repair it if necessary. Pass
Pass It meets the minimum legal standard.  Make sure it continues to meet the standard.         Pass

There was also confusion around the consequences of a car failing its MOT, especially when a test is conducted in advance of an existing MOT certificate expiring.  16% of drivers think that if their car is MOTed and fails the test before its current certificate expires, they would still be able to drive it under the old certificate.  This is not always the case. 

Cars can be tested up to a month before their old MOT expires, while retaining the anniversary date under the old certificate date.   However, if the car fails with a ‘dangerous’ fault, it is no-longer road legal and cannot be driven until it has been repaired.  Penalties for driving a car with a dangerous fault carries a fine of £2,500, a driving ban and three points.  If the MOT failure is classified as a ‘major’ fault and the car’s old MOT is still valid it can still be driven. However, the fact that it has failed its MOT means it is faulty and the fault makes the car unroadworthy, the driver could be prosecuted. 

Just over one in ten (11%) of drivers thought that repairs required because of a MOT fail need to be carried out by the same place as the MOT test. The garage which performed the MOT will provide a quote to make the repairs and may offer a free re-test. However, just because they carried out the MOT, it doesn’t mean that they need to make the repairs.  However, if the failure is down to a dangerous fault, it will be illegal to drive the car and it will have to be towed to another garage.

9% of drivers mistakenly think that they would still be insured if their car didn’t have a valid MOT.   As well as facing penalties for uninsured driving (prosecution/fine of at least £300 and 6 penalty points) motorists involved in an accident without a valid MOT would be liable for any costs arising from the accident.  

Ryan Fulthorpe, motoring expert at GoCompare, commented, “The regular testing of vehicles as they get older helps to ensure cars are safe and roadworthy.  A valid MOT certificate confirms a car has met the minimum standard of roadworthiness at the time of testing.  It doesn’t guarantee the car will be in good running order over the next year, so it’s essential that drivers carry out regular checks and have their car regularly serviced.”

As part of its series of offers to support customers and help them better protect the things that are important to them, GoCompare customers purchasing car insurance before 15 June 2021 will be eligible to receive a voucher for a £10 MOT – a saving of around £442.  The voucher can be used with garages throughout the UK participating in the ‘Who Can Fix My Car’ scheme.

More information on the MOT for £10 offer can be found at: https://www.gocompare.com/motforatenner.


For further information please contact:

Gordon, Jason or Liz at MAW Communications on 01603 505 845

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @GoCompare

Notes to editors

1On 16 April 2021, an online survey of 2,008 randomly selected Great British adults was executed by Maru/Blue. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.1%. The results have been weighted by age, gender, region and social grade to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Great Britain. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

2Participating garages only.  To qualify for the £10 MOT, customers need to complete their booking by 30 June 2021.  The maximum fee MOT test stations can charge for a car is £54.85.

About GoCompare

GoCompare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs.

It does not charge people to use its services and does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. GoCompare makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. It is this approach to comparing products that secured the company an invitation to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) in 2008, and it is still the only comparison site to be a member of this organisation.

GoCompare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest and works with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover.

GoCompare is part of Future Plc and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

More information can be found here www.gocompare.com or here https://www.futureplc.com/brands/.