How to avoid a massive bill if your car fails its MOT with a dangerous fault and the garage won’t let you leave

TOUGH new regulations brought in last May have made it more difficult for your car to pass its MOT.

And under the strict rules, your motor can be deemed unroadworthy on the spot, making it illegal to drive away from the garage.

 Tough new MOT laws have left some drivers in an awkward position

Getty – Contributor

Tough new MOT laws have left some drivers in an awkward position

New defect categories now label any issues with your motor as minor, major or dangerous – with cars categorised as dangerous or major automatically failing the test.

If a defect is identified as being dangerous, motorists aren’t legally able to drive the vehicle away from the MOT testing station.

Last June, we reported how a number of motorists had felt like they were being “held to ransom” after their cars had failed with a dangerous defect.

Mechanics conducting the MOT were reportedly stopping drivers from leaving with their “dangerous” car, then charging them over the odds for repairs.

MotorEasy’s tips on how to avoid huge repair bills if your car fails its MOT with a dangerous defect

  1. Ask for a written quote – Getting a price down on paper will reduce the chance of a garage overcharging, and can also help you see where it could be cheaper.
  2. Research labour time and cost – Know how long the job should take, and what the average cost of labour is.
  3. Research cost of parts – A quick Google search for the price of parts can help you figure out if you’re being ripped off.
  4. Haggle – You can always try to negotiate the price with the garage if you aren’t happy with it.
  5. Look elsewhere – There are ways you can have another mechanic conduct the work. While you can’t legally drive the car, you are able to have it towed to a different location, or have another mechanic collect it for you.
  6. Check your bill – If you do get the work done in the same place, always be sure to check your bill against the written quote to make sure it’s the same.

Due to the increase in the number of cars failing their MOT, MotorEasy told This Is Money its top tips to stop motorists getting ripped off should their car fail its MOT with a dangerous defect.

The DVSA has previously said that a mechanic can’t force you to get the repair done then and there.

And you can still have your car towed to a different garage if you find a cheaper price, or even have your motor collected by another mechanic.

The most important thing drivers can do is research the cost of labour times and parts online before agreeing to have any work done – this should give you more weight when trying to haggle.

Getting a written quotation done beforehand also makes it less likely a garage will exaggerate the price, and will make sure you only pay the same price you were quoted.

But while a mechanic has no right to stop you, you should never try to drive your car after it has been defected.

If pulled over by police, you could be slapped with a £2,500 fine, penalty points and even a driving ban for driving a vehicle in a dangerous condition.

MOT pass and fail grading explained


  • Dangerous – Your vehicle fails if it has a dangerous fault, and it can’t be driven until the fault has been repaired.
  • Major – Your vehicle fails if it has significant defective issue. The repair needs to be made as soon as possible, and you should not drive your car until it is fixed.


  • Pass – Your vehicle passes and meets the legal standard.
  • Advisory – Your vehicle passes but there’s an issue that you’ll need to keep an eye on, and repair if it gets worse.
  • Minor – Your vehicles passes, but has an issue that needs to be corrected as soon as possible. If you don’t get it fixed it could get much worse.


Duncan McClure Fisher, MotorEasy founder, said in June: “We would never condone driving on public roads with a dangerous car and anyone who does so will still be risking a fine and penalty points if they are stopped by police.

“However, we’ve already seen examples of garages using an interpretation of the wording in the DVSA guidance to bully motorists to get repairs done before leaving the premises, which they’ve no right to do.”

Neil Barlow, DVSA’s MOT Service Manager, said: “Garages are unable to prevent owners from driving their cars away.

“But they will provide advice to the owner on what they should do to keep the car safe.”


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