How early can you MOT your car?

How early can you MOT your car?

If you’ve ever owned a car, you’ve probably had an MOT test. While sometimes they’re a bit of a niggling worry in the back of our heads, the inspection is there to make sure your car is safe and still meets road standards. It’s a good thing. It’s also a requirement to drive on public roads like Home Insurance is often a requirement of mortgages.  

Sometimes, though, for whatever reason, you want to MOT your car early. Maybe you’ll be on holiday. Maybe you’re planning a long drive. Maybe you know you’ll be moving house. Maybe you’re concerned about one or two issues and want to get feedback on them while your MOT is still valid. Maybe you just won’t have the time. Driving with an expired MOT isn’t a situation any of us want to be in, as you can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid one.

What happens if you MOT your car early?

What happens when you MOT your car early depends on the time between the inspection and when your MOT expires. If you get your MOT for up to a month, (minus 1 day) you can keep the same MOT renewal date.

So if your MOT expires on 19 May, the earliest you can get an MOT and keep the same expiry date for next year is 18 April.  

If you take your car in for an MOT earlier than the 1 month minus a day time period, assuming your car passes, your new renewal date will be 1 year (minus a day) from when the car passed its MOT.

How early can you MOT a car?

Can you take your car for an MOT 2 months early? Yes, you can take your car for an MOT 2 months early. You can take it as early as you want. As we mentioned above, assuming the car passes, if you get your MOT done more than 1 month minus a day from your expiry, the new expiry/renewal date will shift to match 1 year minus a day from when you got your car inspected.

For example, if your MOT expires on 19 May and you get your car inspected on 2 April, your new renewal date for your MOT will be 1 April the next year.

What if my car fails the early MOT?

Generally, it's the recommendation from the government to take your car in a bit early for your MOT, as it can give you time to fix major or minor issues before your MOT expires. Taking your car in early for an MOT test doesn’t necessarily give you time to fix all issues with your car before your MOT expires, though.

This is because if you take your car early for its MOT and it fails, listing “dangerous” problems, from that moment on it’s no longer considered driveable. And it’s not driveable even if your old MOT would have still been valid.

Just like at home, it’s better to be more on the proactive than the reactive side when it comes to maintenance, so walking through a regular checklist helps. Your maintenance should also include reviewing and renewing your insurance (home or car). So if there’s an accident and damage because of it, hopefully, you’ll get some help paying for the car repairs.

Generally, it’s also suggested to have ongoing maintenance on your car and specific MOT preparation before the test so you’ll hopefully catch any issues earlier than when your MOT is due. You should be able to fix any issues before the test anyway at that point as a part of the regular maintenance of your car. If you catch the issues early enough, you should be able to nip them in the bud and keep them from getting dangerous.

In 2018, the MOT was updated to include a specific list of what defects are considered “dangerous,” so it’s standardised and shouldn’t be dependent on the tester’s personal experience or opinion.

If you fail the MOT:

  • It’ll be recorded in the national MOT database
  • You’ll get a “refusal of an MOT test certificate” from the centre

You can drive away from your MOT if your car has failed, if:

  • No “dangerous” problems were reported in the MOT
  • Your MOT certificate is still valid

If you try to drive a car with dangerous problems that’s failed the MOT, you could:

  • Be fined up to £2,500
  • Be banned from driving
  • Get 3 penalty points

Some dangerous issues with the car include:

  • Specific lights not working and/or deteriorating electrical wiring
  • Parking brakes working less than half as well as they should
  • The windscreen is damaged in a way that affects visibility directly within the driver's line of sight
  • An axle is fractured

That being said, some of the more commonly reported dangerous issues seem to be around the car’s:

  • Lights & signals
  • Suspension
  • Brakes

If you fail your MOT due to a dangerous fault, you may have to call someone to pick you up, because you won’t be able to drive your car.

Otherwise, you can leave your car at the test centre to get repaired. If it’s done and fixed within 10 working days, you shouldn’t have to pay a fee for the MOT retest. If you take your car elsewhere for repairs and come back to the MOT retest, you may be charged a partial retest fee.

A few final tips...

When you’ve done regular, proactive maintenance throughout the life of your car, your MOT test should be a breeze, as any problems that arise you should already know about and have managed. That being said, getting your car in early for an MOT, particularly if it’s in that month before, is never a bad idea. You’ll have time to manage any minor issues that may have come up since your last inspection and deal with any small hiccups along the way without having to worry too much about your MOT expiring.

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.