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Tips & advice

How to sell your car without an MOT

Don’t fret if your car has failed its MOT; we show you how to sell it avoiding the pitfalls.

Mot testing centre sign

Selling your car is a daunting task, so if you need to sell your car without an MOT, it may appear even more so.

While an MOT is required by law to drive a car on UK roads – aside from in a handful of exceptional circumstances – there is no law against selling a car without an MOT. You must, however, inform the buyer of its lack of a valid MOT certificate and make sure that they have the means to collect the car up without driving it on the road.

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There are several reasons why you may want to sell your car if it doesn’t have an MOT. Chief among them will probably be that the cost to repair the car to a standard where it would pass an MOT may be too great. Of course, the car could simply be gathering dust in the garage and you might want to move it on quickly with the minimum of fuss. 

That said, there are things you must keep in mind when selling a car without an MOT, so we’ve created this handy guide to ensure you not only get the best price for your car, but also avoid all of the pitfalls that you might encounter.

What is an MOT?

In short, an MOT (Ministry of Transport) certification is a requirement for (nearly) all vehicles on UK roads. It is awarded after a test that checks all the car’s major components are within safe and legal limits.

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An MOT certification is required annually after the third anniversary of a car’s first registration, although cars over 40 years old do not need one to be driven on the road. Cars that are required to have an MOT can only be driven without one either to-or-from a repair centre, or to a pre-arranged MOT test. Driving a car without an MOT leaves you liable for a fine of up to £1,000.

Can I sell a car without an MOT?

You can absolutely sell a car without an MOT, provided you inform the buyer of its condition and non-MOT status. It’s worth noting, though, that you’ll almost always get a lower price for your car than if it had a valid MOT certificate. You or the buyer will also need to arrange a trailer to transport the car to its new home as, once again, you can’t drive a car on the road without an MOT.

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If you’re wondering whether a car you’re buying has a valid MOT or not, you can always check online via the DVLA’s website. This handy tool not only allows you to check a car’s MOT status, as well as any potential advisory notes, but you can check its tax status, too.

Where can I sell my car without an MOT?

There are several places you can sell your car without an MOT, but bear in mind there are a few caveats to be aware of…

Car dealerships

Some car dealerships will accept cars for trade-in, or simply to add to their stock regardless of MOT status. Of course, many will refuse to, simply on the grounds that getting the car repaired or made fit for the road will be too costly and time consuming. It’s always worth checking with your local dealer if you plan to sell your car this way.

Car-buying services

You’ve probably seen on television or online that there are now a multitude of car-buying services out there – be that firms like WeBuyAnyCar, Motorway, or our sister site, Carwow. Of course, while many of these sites and services don’t necessarily require an MOT to buy your car, you’ll still need all the other necessary documentation (V5 logbook etc.).

Sell your car privately

If you’re after the most amount of cash for your car, your best bet is probably to sell it privately. Whether that be by advertising your car on sites like AutoTrader, eBay Motors or even Facebook Marketplace, or simply putting a ‘For Sale’ sign in the window - there are a multitude of options available to you. Once again (and we cannot stress this enough) make sure to clearly state that the car in question doesn’t have an MOT in order to prevent misleading potential buyers.

Scrap yards

If all else fails, it’s always possible to sell your car as scrap. Some car-buying companies will offer this service, although you can also set something up via your local Authorised Treatment Facility (ATF). Just like selling a car privately, you’ll have to arrange for the vehicle to be transported as it’s illegal to drive it somewhere to be scrapped.

One thing worth noting is that, while there is currently a ULEZ Scrappage Scheme in place, it doesn’t cover cars that don’t have an MOT. Residents can only sign up for the scheme if their car is taxed and has a valid MOT certificate.

Checklist for selling your car without an MOT

When selling a car without an MOT there are some important things to take into account. Our checklist will ensure you don’t miss anything… 

Make sure you have the necessary paperwork

To sell a car in the UK, you’ll need its V5C registration certificate which proves that you are the car’s current registered keeper. To help the car sell, it’s handy to also have the car’s service logbook as well as its most recent MOT test results – especially if it’s recently failed and MOT test. If something like the tyres or headlight bulbs have made it fail, these should be cheap and/or easy for the new owner to fix. If it’s something more serious, they will want to be aware. 

Make sure the car is clean

No one likes a dirty car, even if it doesn't have an MOT, so make sure to clean your car before you try to sell it in order to show it in its best light. This step may require a bit of elbow grease, but it should make it easier to sell your car for a fair price. 

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You need to decide if the work you put into preparing the car for sale is likely to be reflected in an increased sale price. If you’ve already decided that it’s not worth the time and money to get the car an MOT, it’s likely that extensive valeting of the vehicle will also be a sunk cost and a quick once-over will do the job.

Research prices

Ultimately, selling a car without a valid MOT certificate will almost always net you less cash than if you sold it fully compliant with DVLA standards. That said, it’s always worth shopping around and comparing prices online. Different dealers, car-buying services and scrap yards will offer different prices and levels of service. You need to consider which offers the best price for an amount of effort that suits you. 

We also recommend comparing the price you can get for your car to that of similar examples that have an MOT certificate. That will show if paying to fix the problems that are preventing the car from getting an MOT would be an economical thing to do. 

Auto Express has partnered with our parent company Carwow to bring you a fast and easy way to sell your car..

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Consumer reporter

Tom is Auto Express' Consumer reporter, meaning he spends his time investigating the stories that matter to all motorists - enthusiasts or otherwise. An ex-BBC journalist and Multimedia Journalism graduate, Tom previously wrote for partner sites Carbuyer and DrivingElectric and you may also spot him throwing away his dignity by filming videos for the Auto Express social media channels.

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