Written by, Marija Petkova
Updated November, 9, 2022
Many drivers opt for early MOT tests, trying to cross the annual inspection off the checklist as early as possible or believing that it will give them more time for repairs.
So what is the earliest MOT date to book your test and is it always a good idea to get an appointment in advance?
Read on to find out!
An MOT is renewed annually and valid up to date printed on your certificate. For instance, if you got your MOT on 10 December 2021, it will be valid until 9 December 2022. Should you continue to drive the car after the date, even if you accidentally forgot to renew the certificate, you will be fined.
You can book an MOT test as early as you’d like, however you will not be able to keep the same renewal date. Once you renew your MOT, the expiry date will change to one year (minus a day) from the date your vehicle passed the test. For example, if you take your vehicle in on 5 November 2022 and it passes the test, the MOT will run out on 4 November 2023 even if the original expiration date was 10 December.
If you want to keep the same renewal date, the earliest MOT test date should be a month (minus a day) before the expiration date. In other words, if your MOT expires on 10 December, the earliest date for an MOT will be 11 November. If you bring in your vehicle for MOT testing on any day after 11 November, you can still keep 10 December as the expiry date.
One of the benefits of booking the MOT in advance is that you won’t miss the due date. Some testing centres could be fully booked around the time your MOT is about to lapse, making it difficult to find an appointment and missing the expiration date as a result.
The annual MOt also has a habit of creeping up at the most inconvenient time—for instance when you are planning a well-deserved holiday or just ahead of Christmas shopping. Crossing it off the list when you have more time on your hands or finances can help you plan your expenses better.
Another advantage is that an early MOT test can tell you if there is anything wrong with the vehicle. Although experts recommend servicing your car at least once a year, many drivers rely on the annual MOT to tell them if there is anything wrong with their vehicle. If you don’t take the car to an MOT testing centre early, you could potentially be driving an unsafe vehicle for weeks or months.
Want to increase your chances of passing the MOT test? Here is a list of 9 things you can check at home to make sure your car is in tip-top shape for the annual inspection.
Taking the MOT before the due date can have its benefits, but only if you pass the inspection.
However, if you take in your car in advance of the MOT expiration date and it fails the test, you may not be able to operate it on UK roads despite the validity of your previous MOT certificate, especially if dangerous issues are discovered.
Here is an example: Your MOT runs out on 9 December. You take the vehicle in for an early MOT on 7 November believing that you can continue to use the car for another month and two days with your current MOT.
The MOT test centre, though, finds a problem with the tread depth and issues a failed MOT certificate, listing the defect as ‘dangerous’. This means that your car is now deemed unroadworthy and not safe to drive. Driving a car that does not meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness can lead to fines up to £2,500, a driving ban, three penalty points against your licence and, in some cases, prosecution.
If the MOT check flags less dangerous issues, listed under ‘major’ defects on your MOT failure certificate, you can drive the car and get the problem fixed. That said, it is recommended that you carry out the required repairs as soon as possible—driving a car with a failed MOT is dangerous to you, pedestrians and other motorists. The best course of action would be to leave the car at the testing centre so they can carry out the required repairs, or immediately drive it to another garage.
Cars that fail the MOT test are issued a notification of refusal known as a VT30 which states the reason/s why your vehicle failed the test.
Whether you will need to pay the full MOT fee or a reduced charge depends on when you bring the vehicle in for retesting. Here are the options available:
If the issue or issues are fixed, you can get a partial retest within ten working days and not be charged anything.
You have the right to take the car away for repairs and bring it back to the original testing centre for a free partial retest by the end of the next working day. However, you can leave the testing centre driving your car only if
This rule also only applies to certain items such as windscreens and wipers, mirrors, electrical wiring, battery, registration plates and the like. See the full list here.
If you get your car repaired at another garage, you can bring it back for a partial MOT retest within 10 working days and pay a discounted fee, normally around half of the original charge.
If 10 working days have passed since your failed MOT test, you will need to pay the full testing fee.
Did you know that almost 2 million cars fail their MOT tests a year?
The earliest MOT test date that you can book is one month, minus a day, before your certificate expires, that is if you want your MOT to be valid for 13 months. You can get it done sooner if you wish, although you will not be able to keep the same renewal date, i.e. your MOT will be valid for 12 calendar months from the date you passed the test.
Also, just because you can get an early appointment doesn’t mean you will automatically pass the test—if any issues are flagged, you will fail your MOT, making it illegal to drive your car on UK public roads.
No, there is no grace period when it comes to an expired MOT. The only instances when you can drive a car with a failed or lapsed MOT certificate is from and to a garage for repairs (provided the vehicle is still roadworthy) or if you are driving to a pre-booked MOT test.
If you are unable to take your car to an MOT testing centre, you can contact the garage and ask them to collect the vehicle. Another person could take it for you, provided they are insured on the vehicle. Remember that when driving a car in the UK, you must have both insurance and a valid MOT—otherwise, you could face serious penalties and fines.
An MOT is a legal requirement for all cars that are older than three years or classic cars with some exceptions. So if you have a brand-new vehicle, you need to get it tested after the third registration anniversary and every year after that.
Yes, you can renew an MOT as early as you like, although if you want to keep the same renewal date the earliest MOT date for your car should be one month, minus a day, before the original certificate expires.
My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.