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Can you drive a car without an MOT to the scrapyard?

24th Nov, 2020

The answer is basically no. But we appreciate you might want a bit more detail than that! You probably don’t need much introduction to MOT tests – the acronym stands for Ministry of Transport, the former administrator of the tests and the forerunner of the modern Department for Transport. MOT tests are a measure of your car’s basic roadworthiness, assessing your car’s emissions and overall safety. For that reason alone, it’s illegal to drive a car without one – especially since, any car insurance policy becomes null and void without one.

Brand new cars are exempt for the first three years of their lives. After that time has elapsed, they have to have a valid MOT certificate by an authorised testing station or garage. And as we’re all aware, MOT tests aren’t cheap, so if a car fails one too many times, that’s generally when owners decide they need to scrap their car. At which point some will ask themselves…

Can I drive my car to be scrapped if I don’t have an MOT?

Definitely not. If your car doesn’t have a valid MOT test, it’s illegal to drive it anywhere. Simple as that. There are only a very few specific exceptions to this rule, and scrapping your car is not one of them. In fact if anything, you could be opening yourself up to particular risk, since if it’s being scrapped then there’s a good chance that it’s especially unsafe to drive.

The only exceptions to this rule are:

  • If you’re taking it to an authorised testing station for a pre-arranged MOT test, such as a re-take.
  • If you’re taking it to a garage for repairs. Again, this has to be a pre-arranged appointment, so that your garage will be able to confirm it.

Strict stipulations apply even for these circumstances too. The car still needs to be in a roadworthy condition, and you will need to have special cover from your insurer. Since your normal insurance policy will be invalidated without an MOT, they will need to have provided you with temporary one-day cover so that you’re legally protected for the trip.

Despite all this, if your car is still judged to be in a dangerous condition to drive – if the steering notably drifts, for example – you will still be fined. In short, it’s best to try and avoid doing so at all unless you really have no other option!

steering wheel

Am I still covered if I took my MOT early?

We get variations on this question quite a lot. Some drivers, for whatever reason, choose to take their MOT slightly early. Say if your MOT was originally valid between January 2000 to January 2001, for example, you might choose to take your next MOT test in October 2000, just to avoid that heavy hit to your wallet in the first few days of the new year.

So, if you take your MOT test in October 2000 and it fails, would you still be able to drive it to the scrapyard in November? After all, the original MOT covers it for a few more months anyway, right?

Well, that depends – but as with so many things in life, it does involve falling back on a bit of common sense. According to the official government website, if your vehicle has failed its MOT test, you can still drive it away if it meets both of the following conditions:

• its original MOT is still valid (so yes, if you have a bit of time left on it)

• no ‘dangerous’ problems were listed in the MOT, and it’s only failed on some minor faults

However, if a dangerous fault has indeed been identified on your car, it needs to be repaired before you’re legally allowed to drive it anywhere, and those findings will automatically override your old certificate. Which makes sense, really – once the garage has identified a dangerous fault with your vehicle, the technicalities of schedules become irrelevant. A few more months on an old certificate won’t make your car any safer to drive. When you know your car has failed an MOT test due to a dangerous fault, taking it out for any other reason than a re-test involves a risk – and as far as the law is concerned, it’s an unacceptable one.

What happens if I’m caught driving without a valid MOT?

At the very least, it’ll turn out to be very expensive. You’re probably looking at a three-figure fine at the very least, and it could be as much as £1000. If the car you’re driving is deemed to be in a dangerous condition, that fine can rocket up to as high as £2,500, along with three penalty points on your licence. You may even be banned from driving – far from an ideal scenario!

Countless drivers have been caught out by the ease with which they can be picked up. Police have Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras designed to flag cars without a valid certificate, so initially, they don’t need to be paying any particular attention to the car in question in order to identify them – the software does all the heavy lifting.

The police may not even need to be there at all. When your car gets the results of its MOT, your garage updates the database of the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency with the pass or fail status. This information can be readily accessed by anyone who has your number plate, allowing members of the public to report vehicles they suspect might not have a valid MOT.

So if I don’t have an MOT, how do I scrap my car?

Simple – that’s where we can help right here at Scrap Car Network! When you scrap your car with us, you don’t need to take it anywhere, as we include hassle-free collection of your scrap car as part of our service.

The process is simple – all you have to do is enter your car reg and postcode into the fields on our site, and we’ll get you your instant scrap car quote before you can say scrap my car. From there, we’ll be in touch to find out exactly where and when you want your car collected. As soon as it’s loaded up and on its way back to us, we’ll finalise payment upon collection, and that’s all there is to it! Couldn’t be easier!

So then… want to find out how much your car is worth?

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