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Written by
Julie Daniels
Motor insurance comparison expert
24 APRIL 2023
6 min read
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What are the most common reasons for Brits driving without a valid MOT status?

An MOT is a legally required annual inspection of cars, motorcycles and light goods vehicles that are more than three years old. Driving on UK roads without a valid MOT certificate is illegal, with motorists facing a fine of up to £1,000 if they do.

Not only does driving without an MOT put yourself and other road users in danger, but it could also invalidate your car insurance policy, as most insurance providers include having a valid MOT certificate as a condition of your car insurance policy.

With this in mind, we carried out a study to reveal the main reasons people drive without a valid MOT certificate, and whether they are aware of the consequences of doing so.

How many motorists admit to driving without a valid MOT certificate?

18% of UK drivers admit to having driven a vehicle without a valid MOT test. The data suggests the number of motorists driving without an MOT is going up – as only 11% admitted to this in ​​our previous report last year.

Driving without an MOT is more common in some cities than others – with nearly ​24% of drivers in Manchester admitting to this offence, compared to fewer than ​three percent in Glasgow.

Birmingham and Sheffield are also high on the list, with 23% and 22% of drivers admitting to this offence, respectively.

Rank City % of drivers
1 Manchester 24%
2 Birmingham 23%
3 Sheffield 22%
4 London 21%
5 Belfast 19%
6 Liverpool 18%
7 Bristol 17%
8 Nottingham 17%
9 Cardiff 15%
10 Norwich 15%

What are the most common reasons for driving without a valid MOT status?

Simply forgetting to check is the most common cause of driving without a valid MOT certificate according to our survey, with ​​27% of drivers saying this. Similarly, ​25% of motorists say they didn’t note the day their MOT certificate expired.

However, more than ​​22% say they have driven without a valid MOT certificate because they couldn’t afford the work needed for their car to pass the test. Over one in 10 (​13%) also say they drove without an MOT because they couldn’t afford an appointment – which has a maximum price of £54.85.

The cost of living crisis could be the reason behind the increasing numbers of motorists driving without a valid MOT status, as in our last survey, only 18% of drivers admitted to cost being the reason behind committing this offence, compared to the ​22% this year.

Not driving often enough and feeling it wasn’t necessary are also key reasons motorists decide not to undergo an MOT test, with 16% admitting to this. However, this is not the case – it is illegal to drive or park your vehicle anywhere other than a driveway if your MOT has expired, and motorists can be prosecuted if caught. The only exceptions are to drive it to or from somewhere to be repaired, or to a pre-arranged MOT test.

Rank Reason % of drivers
1 Because I forgot to check 27%
2 Because I didn't note the day it expired 25%
3 Because I wasn't able to afford the work needed for my car to pass the test 22%
4 Becasue I couldn't get an appointment in time 21%
5 Because I don't drive that often so didn't think it was necassary 15%
6 Because my partnet forgot to remind me 15%
7 Because I couldn't afford an appointment 15%

Almost 3 in 10 young motorists admit to driving without a valid MOT certificate, due to struggling to afford the costs of work or repairs needed to pass

Among 17-24 year-olds, more than ​34% admit to driving without a valid MOT certificate, alongside​​ 28% of 25-34 year-olds. This compares with just 8% of those aged 55 and over.

And it seems young drivers struggle the most with the costs associated with passing their MOT, our survey indicates. Not being able to afford the work needed to pass the test is the most common reason given by those aged 17-24 – with ​​29% saying so.

The number of Brits who drive without a valid MOT certificate by age

Age % of drivers
17-24 34%
25-34 28%
35-44 19%
45-54 16%
55+ 8%

How long do people drive before realising their MOT has run out?

While ​39% of drivers realised that their MOT had run out before two weeks had passed, some drivers went unaware for much longer.

More than ​18% of motorists took up to one month to realise their MOT status had expired, ​​six percent took between three to six months, and ​​four percent took even longer than this.

How many drivers are unaware of the consequences of driving without a valid MOT certificate?

When asked to correctly identify the consequences of driving without a valid MOT more than ​46% of drivers admit they don’t know the answer – and ​​49% guessed incorrectly.

Nationally, only ​4% of drivers correctly identified that you can be​fined up to £1,000 for driving without a valid MOT, but no penalty points apply.

However, outside of a fine, the potential consequences of not obtaining your MOT in time could be much greater than this.

A key role of an MOT is to ensure your vehicle is roadworthy. If you are found to be driving a vehicle that is ​unsafe – whether you have an MOT or not – you can be prosecuted.

For trucks and buses this can attract an ‘unlimited’ fine, while for other vehicles the fine is £2,500. If the offence is committed within three years of a similar previous conviction, it attracts a minimum six month disqualification. Otherwise the disqualification is discretionary. Each case attracts three penalty points.

Which locations are home to motorists who are most unaware of the consequences of driving without an MOT?

​Newcastle, Edinburgh, Belfast, Glasgow, are among the cities who have the least awareness of the penalties of driving without an MOT.

Rank City % of drivers unaware of consequences 
1 Newcastle 56%
2 Edinburgh 56%
3 Belfast 56%
4 Glasgow 55%
5 Nottingham 53%
6 Cardiff 53%
7 Southampton 52%
8 Plymouth 51%
9 Norwich 49%
10 Brighton 49%

How can drivers ensure their car passes its MOT test on time, and avoid penalties

1. Find out when your MOT is due

As soon as your car hits three years-old, it will need an MOT before its birthday each year. You can easily check when your MOT is due using your number plate on GOV.UK. You can undertake your MOT test up to a month (minus a day) before its expiry date while still preserving its annual due date.

2. Set up a reminder

Simply set a reminder on your email calendar - or in Great Britain, you can sign up online to get a free text or email reminder one month before your vehicle’s MOT is due. In Northern Ireland you’ll get a letter in the post seven weeks before your MOT is due.

3. Create a car contingency account

Cars are expensive – there’s no denying that – and MOTs can throw up unexpected repair costs in order to pass. It’s a good idea to set up a car contingency savings account; putting aside a little each month to spread the costs and make sure you can afford any unexpected nasty surprises.

4. Shop around for your MOT

Just as you should shop around for a cheaper premium on your car insurance, you can also compare prices for your MOT. The maximum price of an MOT is £54.85 for a car and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle. But many garages will offer it cheaper than this – especially if bought in conjunction with your regular servicing.


The data used in this story was collected from a survey of 2014 UK drivers aged 17+ between 06.02.2023 and 09.02.2023.

The consequences of driving without a valid MOT were taken from Annex 5. Penalties of The Highway Code.