A third of motorists admit to driving without a valid MOT

12 August 2013 #SMMT News
  • 10 million vehicle owners have driven with no MOT.
  • 67% admitted driving for up to a week without a valid MOT certificate; 24% for up to a month; 7% for as long as six months.
  • Men are more likely than women to drive after the MOT test has lapsed.
  • The South West is the most common region where people drive without a valid MOT; those in the East Midlands the least likely to forget the test.
  • SMMT launches free MOT reminder at
  • More than 5,500 UK manufacturer main dealers will perform a free 10-point visual inspection before the MOT to help vehicles avoid failing the test due to simple-to-fix issues.

Shocking new findings show that a third of motorists have driven a car knowing it has no MOT. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) surveyed 1,000 UK motorists and found that, of those that have driven a car without a valid MOT, 67% admitted driving for up to a week before the retest, 24% for up to a month, 7% for up to six months and 2% for more than six months.

By driving without an MOT, motorists risk fines of up to £1,000, as well as potentially invalidating their motor insurance, which itself counts as a driving offence carrying between six to eight penalty points. Cars older than three years also require a valid MOT before they can be taxed – with further fines for motorists who drive an untaxed car.

The research suggests men are more likely to continue driving after their MOT has lapsed – 35% of all male drivers say they have done so, versus 31% of female drivers.

There are significant regional differences in the findings. The East Midlands topped the table for remembering to carry out a car’s MOT, with just 15% of motorists in the region saying they have driven a car without a valid MOT. At the opposite end of the spectrum, drivers in the South West were most likely to drive without an MOT, with 41% admitting to forgetting (see full table below)

The data also suggests that younger motorists are worst at remembering the test date, with 39% of drivers aged 18-24 saying they have continued to drive after the MOT had expired. The most diligent motorists were 45-54 year-olds, with only 28% saying the same.

To help motorists remember to have their car tested each year, SMMT has teamed up with the Trading Standards-approved garage network, Motor Codes, to offer car owners a free MOT service reminder. Available at, the service will send motorists a reminder every year before their car’s annual test of roadworthiness is due.

The SMMT research has been carried out in partnership with car manufacturers and their dealer networks throughout the UK as part of the industry’s ‘Minute Or Two’ initiative, which encourages motorists to carry out 10 simple visual checks of their vehicle prior to the MOT test. The full ‘Minute Or Two’ checklist (also at, includes checks of headlights, tyres, windscreen wipers and fluid levels. The website also features a video guide to the checks and a Garage Finder tool, enabling motorists to find their nearest dealer.

The ‘Minute Or Two’ scheme is backed by every major car maker in the UK, with technicians at more than 5,500 manufacturer main dealerships committed to carry out a free 10-point pre-MOT visual inspection to help the vehicle avoid failing its test due to simple-to-fix issues.

Manufacturer main dealers are the only outlets recommended by car brands, and all their MOT and service work is carried out by manufacturer-trained technicians using the highest-quality diagnostic equipment and fully-approved parts appropriate to each specific vehicle. Using a manufacturer main dealer also assures the customer that any required software updates will be carried out to keep the car running at its best.

“Each year, a significant proportion of motorists forget their car’s MOT, risking safety, fines and penalty points,” said Mike Baunton, SMMT Interim Chief Executive. “Manufacturer main dealers are the best place to go to be sure of the most highly-trained technicians, using the parts manufacturers recommend along with the best diagnostic equipment.

“With more than 5,500 dealers across the UK carrying out free pre-MOT checks, along with an MOT reminder service run by Motor Codes, we are helping drivers to avoid basic MOT test fails by spotting simple-to-fix problems before the MOT lapses.”

Commenting on behalf of the national Franchised Dealers Association (NFDA), Sue Robinson, NFDA Director said, “The statistics show that a number of motorists are driving vehicles without a valid MOT, which could result in genuine safety risks to them and other road users.

“For the motorist, a visit to their local franchised dealer will ensure the highest standard of customer care, in-depth training and knowledge of the vehicle and that their car meets all safety and legal requirements.”

By region – percentage of motorists that have ever driven a car without a valid MOT

East Midlands 14.6%
South East 24.0%
North East 25.6%
Yorkshire and the Humber 27.4%
East Anglia 27.7%
Scotland 29.0%
North West 34.8%
West Midlands 35.6%
Northern Ireland 36.8%
Wales 37.0%
London 37.3%
South West 40.5%

By age – percentage of motorists that have ever driven a car without a valid MOT

18-24 25-34 35-44 45-54 55+
39.3% 36.1% 30.7% 28.0% 28.2%

By gender – percentage of motorists that have ever driven a car without a valid MOT

Male Female
34.6% 30.5%

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