Over 450 incorrect MOT Certificates are submitted daily in the UK

When your car passes its MOT, you probably breathe a sigh of relief. Boom, job done. Now you can forget about it - or so you think.

But did you know that over 450 error-riddled MOT certificates are submitted daily in the UK?

These mistakes aren’t to be taken lightly - they could cause you legal problems in the years to come, and could severely affect the value of your car.

At Lease Fetcher, we gathered data on incorrect MOT certificates from January 2018 to mid-May 2021 which highlights the need for change across the board.

From the data, it was uncovered that a total of 561,851 MOT Certificates were amended during this timeframe.

In this post, we’ll look at:

  • The most common errors.
  • The cost of errors.
  • What to do if you find an error.

As the DVLA begin their transition from paper to digital licences and MOT certificates, it's more important than ever to check that your MOT certificate is correct.

Have you ever checked your MOT certificate for errors? If not, then you need to read on!

Odometer blunders account for more than half of all MOT Certificate errors.

Of all the issues with MOT certificates, mistakes relating to the odometer were most common. In fact, odometer blunders made up a staggering 60.3% of all errors!

The top 3 most common errors were:

  1. Odometer value has been changed - 50.9%
  2. Expiry date has been changed - 18%
  3. Odometer unit has been changed (miles to km and vice-versa) - 9.4%

Other errors to look for on your certificate include incorrect car colour, make, model, or class.

MOT Error Number of Errors
The odometer value has changed 285,724
The expiry date has changed 100,857
The odometer unit has changed (m to km, or the reverse) 53,122
The VIN is different 28,729
The VRM is different 28,708
The make, model or class or other vehicle details are changed 28,483
Original Nominated Tester Unavailable - Reason unknown 16,575
Original Nominated Tester Unavailable - Holiday 7,556
Original Nominated Tester Unavailable - Working elsewhere 5,044
Original Nominated Tester Unavailable - Left VTS 2,877
The colour has changed 2,127
Original Nominated Tester Unavailable - Illness 2,049
Total 561,851

Data collected from the DVSA covering the period from the 1st January 2018 to mid-May 2021.

One simple MOT error could cost drivers thousands of pounds.

Whilst these errors seem like silly, harmless mistakes, they could actually end up costing you big bucks down the line.

Since odometer issues are the most common, we’ll look at a few hypothetical (but completely possible) odometer mistakes to highlight how much money you could stand to lose.

As a general rule, car mileage depreciation is grouped into bands of 20,000 miles. For every 20,000 miles added to your total mileage, your car will roughly lose 20% of its current value.

We've used this general rule of thumb to calculate the cost of hypothetical MOT Certificate errors below. However, it's important to note that other factors can affect the value of a car including age, plate changes, 'wear and tear' CO2 emissions, popularity and cosmetic damage.

First Digit Error

Say your car had done 25,000 miles, but the first digit was misrecorded making it 35,000 - your car would be devalued 10.53%.

Car ModelValue at 25,000 MilesValue at 35,000 MilesEstimated cost of Mistake (£)Devaluation of Car (%)
Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI 245 GTI, 2019£23,313£20,859£2,45410.53%

First and Second Digit Mix Up

In the example below, the first and second digit have been accidentally swapped - an accident costing this individual 25.89% of the value of the car!

Car ModelValue at 25,000 MilesValue at 52,000 MilesEstimated cost of Mistake (£)Devaluation of Car (%)
Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI 245 GTI, 2019£23,313£17,276£6,03725.89%

Kilometers to Miles Mix Up

Over 50,000 MOT errors are a result of the odometer unit being changed, either from miles to kilometres, or vice-versa.

For a car that has done 30,000 km (recorded instead as 30,000 miles), you could lose 12.07% of the car’s value. If the mistake is the other way round, you could falsely add this on (but we’ll discuss later why this isn’t as good as it sounds either).

Car ModelValue at 30,000 MilesValue at 18,641 Miles (30,000 Km)Estimated cost of Mistake (£)Devaluation of Car (%)
Volkswagen Golf 2.0 TSI 245 GTI, 2019£22,086£25,119£3,03312.07%

The risks of MOT errors

If you think you’ve hit the jackpot with a misrecorded odometer value that seemingly increases the value of your car, then beware.

Legal Risks

“Car clocking” is the practice of winding back an odometer in order to increase its asking price. This is not illegal to do in itself, but if you knowingly sell a car where the odometer is incorrectly recorded, then you are committing a criminal offence.

According to HPI, 1 in 11 of the cars they check has a mileage discrepancy. This problem is on the rise, with 45% more cases than 5 years ago, the highest levels of fraud ever seen. Clocking costs motorists over £800m every single year!

If you’ve got a mileage discrepancy on your MOT certificate, your odometer likely still shows its true mileage, so it hasn’t technically been clocked. But if you try to sell it, you could run into problems. 

Trouble Selling

If you decide to sell the car on, you will run into difficulties instilling trust in potential buyers.

If the odometer error has caused the car’s value to artificially inflate, you will struggle to find a buyer who will pay that price. You legally have to admit this fault or you’ll be committing fraud. You may even have to drop the price lower than its correct value to find a willing buyer.

Similarly, if the error has artificially deflated the car’s value, you’ll have a lot of explaining if you try and list the car at its correct value. You will undoubtedly be met with scepticism and may end up having to list the price at its incorrectly lower value - or even lower. Even then, many buyers will not be willing to buy a car with incorrect documentation.

Issues Buying

Likewise, if you’re a buyer you may have problems buying a car if the MOT certificate has errors. If you know upfront, then you’ll face the problems outlined above. If you don’t know, problems will undoubtedly surface in the coming months.

Firstly, you could be ripped off, paying more for a car that is not worth it. You’ll be out of pocket and may have to pursue legal action against the seller.

If the car was listed with fewer miles than it has done, you could face unexpected mechanical problems since the car has gone through tougher use than you thought. This has safety implications and you face high repair bills.

You can avoid all these issues by doing some preliminary checks on the car before purchasing it, including checking its service history, MOT history, or using an online car history check tool to compare the recorded and current mileage.

What should I do if I receive an MOT Certificate that contains errors?

It’s important to act fast if you receive an MOT certificate with errors. 

If you notice less than a month after your MOT, you can ask the MOT Centre to check the mileage again and replace the certificate with a correctly updated one.

After 28 days, it gets a little more complicated. You must contact the DVSA and you must provide evidence of the mistake.

You’ll need to submit:

  • Scanned pages of the logbook to show the keeper and vehicle details.
  • Proof of mileage.
  • Scan or photo of an invoice for the MOT.
  • Emissions printout.
  • Service receipt.
  • Vehicle job card from the MOT centre.

If you don’t have your MOT certificate to hand to check it, you can get a replacement easily online. You should always proactively check your certificate after each MOT to avoid costly and time consuming fixes down the line!


So, the moral of the story is - CHECK YOUR MOT CERTIFICATES PRONTO!

Allowing these mistakes to remain unchecked can not only devalue your car and cause you difficulties selling, but can land you in legal hot water.

Make sure you keep all of your evidence close to hand otherwise you’ll not be able to submit a correction request to the DVSA after 28 days.

For more guidance on MOTs, check out this MOT checklist and find out what the most common MOT fails are.


Using an FOI request to the DVSA, we sourced MOT error data between 1st January to mid-May 2021.

Access our Car Mileage Data to see a further breakdown of our calculations.