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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MOT screen on Caura

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 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

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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

MOT Guides

Useful MOT questions

To help you navigate the test
Most common MOT faults
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

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

Brakes (16% of MOT defects): if brake pads are below 1.5mm you will fail the MOT

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

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

Body and structure (6% of MOT defects): any loose or sharp edges or loose parts like bumpers will cause an MOT failure

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

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

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

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.

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.

Take the vehicle away for repairs and get a retest once repairs are done
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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