MOT Certificate: Explained

Your MOT certificate varies depending on your MOT test result. We’ve broken down each MOT test result in detail to help you understand what it means.

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mechanics checking car during MOT

Different MOT categories and their meanings

Once your MOT test has concluded, you will receive one of four test results:

  • Pass with no defects
  • Pass with advisories
  • Pass with minor defects
  • Fail with major or dangerous defects

MOT Test Results

MOT pass with no defects

This mean that the tester detected no faults during the test and your vehicle is completely safe to drive. Regular servicing and maintenance can help you maximise your chances of getting an MOT pass with no defects.

Your MOT certificate will look like this:

Example of MOT pass certificate with no defects, meaning no faults were found and the vehicle can be driven as normal

MOT pass with advisories / MOT pass with minor defects

An advisory is like a warning – they’re not an immediate risk but should be monitored and repaired when necessary. An example of an advisory on your MOT could be ‘brake pads slightly worn’.

A minor defect on your MOT certificate means that the fault found is not severe enough to fail the test, but should be repaired as soon as possible.

Minor defects can’t cause an MOT failure, no matter how many are found. Examples of minor defects found during an MOT include ‘defective wiper blades’ or ‘brake fluid below minimum mark’. Here’s a list of all the minor defects that can be found during an MOT.

If your tester identifies any minor defects or advisories during your MOT test, your MOT certificate will look like this:

Example of an MOT certificate with minor defects or advisories. You will still pass the MOT, but should repair the noted parts as soon as possible

MOT failure with major or dangerous defects

When an MOT tester finds one or more dangerous or major faults during the MOT, your vehicle will fail the MOT test. All faults identified during an MOT test will be listed within the MOT certificate.

A major fault is a defect that could potentially become dangerous or impact the environment if it is not repaired. If a major fault is identified, the vehicle will fail the MOT test, but the driver is allowed to take the vehicle to a different garage for repairs. Examples of major faults found during an MOT could include ‘a headlamp is likely to become detached’ or ‘brake fluid is significantly below minimum mark’.

A dangerous fault is one that presents an immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment. A vehicle with a dangerous fault cannot be driven on the road until the fault is repaired. For example, if a vehicle’s bonnet is at risk of opening inadvertently, or a shock absorber is likely to become detached – the MOT tester will stop the test immediately and you will fail the MOT.

If a vehicle fails its MOT test, the driver will receive an MOT refusal certificate, also known as a VT30.

Your MOT certificate will look like this:

Example of an MOT refusal certificate when a vehicle fails an MOT - this is if the MOT tester identifies major or dangerous faults during the MOT test that are an immediate risk to the driver or public


MOT failure

Common reasons that cause a failed MOT test

Any major or dangerous fault can cause you to fail your MOT. Here are some of the most common reasons of MOT failure:

Pie chart showing the most common causes for MOT failures

Most common MOT faults

  1. Lights, reflectors, or electrical equipment (25% of MOT defects): if an engine warning light is shown during the MOT test, the vehicle will fail the test
  2. Suspension (19% of MOT defects): if a vehicles suspension does not deal well with bumps and makes a banging or knocking sound, the vehicle will fail the test
  3. Brakes (16% of MOT defects): if brake pads are below 1.5mm you will fail the MOT
  4. Tyres (12% of MOT defects): if your tyres have a tread depth that’s less than 1.6mm, the vehicle will fail the test. It can also land you a £2,500 fine and three penalty points if you’re stopped by the police
  5. Windscreen and windscreen wipers (9% of MOT defects): it is illegal to drive with a cracked or chipped windscreen where a driver’s view of the road is obstructed. Visible tears or damage to the wipers can also cause an MOT failure, especially if your wipers leave a visible smear on the windscreen that obstructs a clear view of the road
  6. Body and structure (6% of MOT defects): any loose or sharp edges or loose parts like bumpers will cause an MOT failure
  7. Exhaust system (5% of MOT defects): a noisy or loose exhaust system can cause an MOT failure. There should also be no evidence of corrosion or missing silencers
  8. Steering (3% of MOT defects): if the power steering fluid is not above the ‘MIN’ mark in the reservoir, the vehicle will fail the MOT
  9. Seatbelts and airbags (2% of MOT defects): working seatbelts are a must. Missing airbags or an airbag warning light on your dashboard can also cause MOT failure
  10. Registration plate (1% of MOT defects): if significant damage is found on the front or rear reg plates or your reg plate light is faulty, the vehicle will fail the MOT test

What happens if you fail an MOT

If you fail an MOT, you will receive an MOT refusal certificate (also known as a VT30) and the result will be recorded in the MOT database.

There are three things you can do if your vehicle has failed the MOT:

  • Appeal the result if you think it’s wrong – no repairs should be made to the vehicle during the appeal process. Read more here
  • Leave the vehicle at the test centre for repairs and a retest – if repairs are done within 10 working days, you could get a retest for free or for a reduced fee at the same test centre. Find out more about MOT retests here
  • Take the vehicle away for repairs and get a retest once repairs are done

Book an MOT from vetted garages

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Top of Book Garage screen where you can enter you postcode and book an MOT garage near you
Driving without an MOT

What are the consequences of driving without an MOT

Driving without an MOT is illegal – here’s what can happen in you’re caught driving without MOT:

  • A fine: if you’re stopped by the police and you don’t have a valid MOT, you could get a hefty £2,500 fine
  • Penalty points: the number of penalty points you could receive for driving without an MOT may vary depending on the condition of your vehicle, but it is possible to receive between three and six penalty points on your driving licence
  • Insurance: driving without a valid MOT automatically invalidates your insurance – this means that if you find yourself in an accident, you won’t be able to make a claim
  • Vehicle seizure: the police have the power to seize a vehicle that is being driven without a valid MOT, and drivers would have to pay a fee to recover it

What can drivers to do avoid failing an MOT?

Research conducted by SMMT shows that around 1.5 million vehicles in the UK fail their MOT due to easily avoidable reasons like faulty bulbs or empty windscreen washer fluid bottles.

We’ve created a simple MOT checklist that you can follow to minimise the risk of failing. Read more or view the checklist here.

Some of these checks take less than 10 seconds so we highly recommend that all drivers conduct these pre-checks before sending their vehicle for an MOT.

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Find answers to common questions here. If you can't find what you're looking for then email us on and we'll get back to you.

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Do I have to sign up to access Caura?

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You can’t currently change your email address on Caura (but we are working on it). As a workaround, you can log out of your current account and sign up with a new email address. We won’t be able to transfer the history over.

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How do I add or remove vehicles from my account?

To add a vehicle, simply swipe to the left on your current vehicle or tap the ‘+’ icon on the Home screen. To remove a vehicle, tap and hold on the vehicle image.

My vehicle cannot be found when I add my number plate, why not? 

All vehicles registered with the DVLA should show on Caura. Please make sure you are entering a valid number plate recognised by the DVLA. If the problem persists please email 

Why can’t I see my updated vehicle details (e.g. tax, MOT) on Caura?

If you have made the update on Caura (e.g. paid for tax on Caura), it should update automatically within a few days. If it doesn't, you can pull down the image of your vehicle from the Home screen, which will refresh the app.

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Do I need to enable notifications? 

Caura notifications help keep you updated on any upcoming renewal or expiry dates for your vehicle, as well as important transaction details. If you’re an AutoPay user, you’ll need to have them on so we can contact you in case of failed payment or changes to your AutoPay status.

I turned off notifications, how do I re-enable them?

If you turned off push notifications, you can enable again by going to Settings on your device and scrolling down to Apps and selecting Caura. From there, simply switch on ‘Allow Notifications’ from within the Permissions section. 

Does Caura tell me whether I’ve driven into a charging zone (e.g. ULEZ)? 

Only Caura AutoPay users will receive notifications confirming they have entered a charging zone, and this currently only applies to London Congestion, ULEZ & LEZ charges. When you drive into these London charging zones, TfL automatically recognises your vehicle and up to 5 days later they notify us of your journey. We’ll then let you know and automatically take payment from your card. 

What expiry reminders can Caura provide for my vehicle? 

Caura helps keep you updated on upcoming renewal or expiry dates for you vehicle, including tax, MOT and insurance. You’ll need to manually add your insurance renewal date into the app, MOT and tax reminders will be generated automatically.

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How do I add or remove a payment method?

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What if I need to change my AutoPay payment method?

Go to your AutoPay account in-app (by going to the City Charges screen). From your AutoPay account, tap the current payment method selected. You can then choose to change your payment method tied to your AutoPay, either select an existing payment method or add a new card to Caura. 

What is an MOT test and why is it important?

The MOT test is a yearly inspection of vehicle safety to make sure it is safe to drive on public roads, and meets government set environmental standards.

If your vehicle doesn't have a valid MOT, you won't be able to renew your road tax and it will also invalidate your insurance

What does MOT stand for?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport - the department originally responsible for ensuring vehicle roadworthiness. The test is now operated by the Department of Transport, who are responsible for the development and regulation of transport policy in the UK, and ensuring the safety and security of the UK’s transport networks

What is VOSA?

VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) was an executive agency that was responsible for enforcing the regulation of vehicles and operators. It merged with the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) in 2014 to form the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)

How long does an MOT take?

The test takes around 30 minutes for vehicles between 3 to 5 years old, and around 45 minutes for vehicles older than 5 years

Which vehicles are MOT exempt?

Most vehicles less than three years old don’t need an MOT. You also don’t need an MOT if you’re driving a historic vehicle that was registered more than 40 years ago. You can find a list of MOT exempt vehicles here. Remember – if you think your vehicle is MOT exempt, you will need to apply for exemption via the government website

Can I book my MOT via Caura?

Yes. All vehicles including motorcycles can book an MOT via Caura. We also offer Class 7 MOTs – an MOT test specifically for commercial vehicles. Simply download the app if you don’t have it already, enter your vehicle registration number and tap on ‘Book Garage’ to book

How to book MOT tests near me?

You can book an MOT with local, trusted mechanics in Caura. Simply enter your reg plate and postcode in-app to book a garage near you

How can I check my vehicle’s MOT due date?

Check your MOT due date in Caura by entering your vehicle registration number. If your MOT is due in 30 days or less, you’ll see a reminder on the home screen. Then, simply press ‘Book Garage’ to find and book with a garage near you

Can I book an MOT for tomorrow?

Yes, depending on the garage’s availability. Simply select all your available dates in Caura and we’ll let you know if the earliest slots you can book

Can I drive without MOT?

No, driving without an MOT is illegal. If caught, you could be fined up to £2,500 if you’re driving a car or get handed an unlimited fine if you’re driving a van

How can I check a vehicle’s MOT history?

Your vehicle’s MOT history can be found in your vehicle logbook. If you don’t have access to this, you can check your MOT history via the government website. Very soon, you’ll also be able to see your MOT history in the Caura app so keep your eyes peeled

How early can I book my MOT?

You can book an MOT two months before its expiry date. However, the earliest date for your test can only be up to a month before its expiry date. For example, if your MOT runs out on 23rd May 2023, you can book an MOT from the 24th of March, however your earliest test date you can book will be the 24th of April

Remember, if you book an MOT a month in advance, you will keep the same renewal date. Don’t wait till the last minute, book as soon as possible

Where can I book an MOT test?

Easiest way to book an MOT is in the Caura app. All you need to do is enter your vehicle registration number into the app and book with a local mechanic Remember, if you book an MOT a month in advance, you will keep the same renewal date. Don’t wait till the last minute, book as soon as possible at vetted garages near you

Do you do Class 7 MOTs?

Yes, we offer MOTs for all vehicles including Class 7 vehicles (commercial vehicles), cars and motorcycles

What’s the difference between car service and MOT?

An MOT is just an inspection of your vehicle whereas a car service could also include repairs and maintenance work to get your car into the best possible shape.

You can book a car service in the Caura app

If my car fails its MOT test, how much will the MOT retest be?

If you leave your car at the same garage and repairs are done within 10 working days, the garage should conduct a free partial retest. You may also get a free partial retest if you take your car to a different garage for repairs and bring it back the next working day.

If you take your car away for repairs and bring it back within 10 working days, the garage can choose to charge you a small MOT fee for the retest.

For any MOT retests done at a different garage or after 10 working days from the original test date, you will need to book a complete MOT again and pay the full fee. Find out more about MOT retests here

What documents do I need for MOT?

You don’t need to take any documents to your MOT test. Garages will be able to access all the information they need via the DVLA

What happens after the MOT test?

If you’ve passed your MOT, you can continue to drive the vehicle as normal

If you’ve failed your MOT, the tester will list all the faults found with the vehicle on the MOT certificate. You will need to get all faults repaired and pass an MOT retest before you can continue driving your vehicle

Can you tax a car without MOT?

No. You will need to have a valid MOT before taxing your vehicle

If your car tax has expired and you haven’t booked an MOT yet, remember to keep it off public roads and in a private garage to avoid a hefty £1,000 fine

Once you’ve booked your MOT, you can also renew your car tax in the Caura app in less than 20 seconds – all you need is your V11 or V5C details

Renew your car tax in Caura today

How long is an MOT certificate valid for?

Your MOT certificate will be valid for a year from the date your vehicle passed the MOT test. Find out more about your MOT certificate here

My MOT certificate has expired, will this invalidate my insurance?

Yes. If having a valid MOT is part of your policy (which is usually the case), then your insurance will be invalidated, and you won’t be able to make a claim

What’s not checked during an MOT?

The condition of the engine, clutch and gearbox is not checked during an MOT

Is there an MOT grace period?

No. As soon as your MOT has expired, it becomes illegal to drive your car on the road. The only exception is if you’re driving your vehicle to the MOT test, so long as the test has been booked and you can show proof of appointment

What is the penalty for driving without an MOT?

The fine for driving without an MOT is £1,000. However, you can be fined up to £2,500 for cars or be given an unlimited fine for vans if you’re caught driving without an MOT and the vehicle is deemed as dangerous

The Roadeo

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