Mechanic pic via iStock for Craig feature in CD 196Mechanic pic via iStock for Craig feature in CD 196

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Exclusive: Shocking new study shows motorists are missing MOT tests

Amidst the biggest cost-of-living crisis in more than a generation, over five million cars are avoiding their annual MOT inspection, claims a surprising study.

Time 6:20 am, July 7, 2024

A freedom of information request has shown that as many as 5.2m cars could be being driven on the UK’s roads without a valid MOT certificate.

According to Select Car Leasing, which commissioned the research, more than 360,000 cars in the UK were also presented for a new MOT more than a year after their old test had expired.

However, as many car dealers will be aware, a lot of cars held in stock will have expired tests, to be sold with a new MOT on purchase.


All vehicles registered in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are required to have an annual MOT inspection from three years after their first registration, with a maximum fine of up to £1,000 or five years’ imprisonment for driving without a certificate.

Graham Conway, the managing director of Select Car Leasing, said that data from a freedom of information (FOI) request to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) had illustrated the ‘truly shocking’ number of vehicles presented for an MOT long after the expiry date.

The FOI data showed that 5.2m vehicles were presented for an MOT at least 15 days after the previous test had expired.


Around a third of those were presented for testing within a month of the previous examination’s expiry, and a total of 3.4m were retested within three months.

‘MOTs are essential for ensuring that cars on the road are safe and roadworthy. Common reasons for failing an MOT include issues with lights and signals, suspension and brakes,’ said Conway.

‘Not presenting a vehicle for an MOT on time might mean that crucial safety concerns are overlooked.’

While a number of the vehicles with long gaps between tests were on SORN – meaning they were legally kept off the road between inspections, potentially for repairs or restoration – almost half a million were untaxed, according to records.

Separately, a study by Zuto Car Finance showed that the Renault Clio had the highest fail rate of any car presented for an MOT test in the UK, closely followed by the Vauxhall Corsa and the Ford Transit.

Almost half of the three models presented for testing failed.

It comes as the DVSA has called time on the need for physical paper MOT certificates, which are no longer a legal requirement and are only available to car owners on request.

MOT pass and fail records have been stored digitally since 2005.

The DVSA’s Gordon Thomson said: ‘Now that we’re able to offer certificates digitally via the MOT history service, we want to move away from issuing a paper copy of pass certificates at the time of test.


‘The MOT history service contains the digital test record for every vehicle. It provides the most up-to-date and secure way to check the MOT history.

‘Using this service also reduces the need for paper and is more environmentally friendly.

‘In most cases, you won’t need the physical piece of paper, and I’d encourage people to view the vehicle’s record on the MOT history website instead, ensuring the details on the certificate are correct, and to check for any advisory items.’

This article appears in the current edition of Car Dealer – issue 196 – along with news, views, reviews, features and much more! Read and download it for free here!

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