Can I tow a car that has no tax, insurance or MOT?

If you have a car that has broken down or needs to be scrapped, the really important question that you might not have considered is, 'can you tow it on the road if it does not have tax insurance or an MOT?'.

These are the questions you should ask before attempting to tow your car on public roads. Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden looks at the facts and explains the various laws and regulations you’ll need to abide by.

A tow rope - but when can you use it on cars that are not taxed, insured, or with a current MOT?A tow rope - but when can you use it on cars that are not taxed, insured, or with a current MOT?  (Credit: Pixabay)

Can I tow an untaxed car on public roads?

On the whole, no. All cars, providing they are not exempt for reasons such as being historic or an electric vehicle for example, must have road tax if all four wheels are touching the road surface.

So, this will mean any vehicle being towed by a rope or chain will need to have valid road tax before it can take to the public highway.

Driving, or towing an untaxed car on public roads is an offence and could result in a fine of up to £1,000 or five times the amount of tax chargeable, whichever is greater.

You can check if your vehicle has valid road tax – or VED as it is also know - here.

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Can I tow a vehicle that has a SORN on it?

A vehicle with a SORN - Statutory Off Road Notification – cannot be towed on public roads, unless it us being taken to or from a pre-booked MOT appointment. Simply towing it to the garage to have it repaired, or to a scrapyard to be scrapped, is not acceptable and could result in being fined for having no road tax.

Can I tow a car that has no insurance?

Once again, if a vehicle’s wheels are touching the road surface, it will need to be insured. Not having insurance while being towed could result in police issuing a fixed penalty of £300 and six penalty points, or if the case goes to court, it could result in an unlimited fine or disqualification.

So you must check that the vehicle has valid insurance before it used, towed or parked on public roads.

Can a vehicle with no MOT be towed on the road?

If the car is not safe then it should not be towed regardless of whether it has an MOT or not.

However, the vehicle can be towed on the road if it is being taken to a pre-booked MOT appointment. The owner must be able to prove it is booked in and the route taken must be direct and not via other points.

Failing to adhere to these rules could see you fined up to £2,500 depending on the circumstances.

Can I tow a car on my driving licence?

Yes – you will not need a special qualification to tow a vehicle using your driving licence. However, when hauling a trailer – or car – you will need to adhere to weight limits. These also depend on when your licence was issued. Find out what weight of trailer you can tow here.

Can I tow a car without tax, MOT or insurance on a trailer?

Yes. If the trailer ensures that all four wheels of the car that is uninsured, untaxed or without an MOT are off the ground, then it is legal for the vehicle to be carried on public road.

What are the rules for towing?

Anyone towing a vehicle, or in the vehicle being towed, must adhere to these rules - along with all other rules that apply.

Drive slowly and steady to ensure safety and avoid any collisions.

If it is dark, the car being towed must have lights on as normal.

The vehicle being towed must also have a clearly visible and easy-to-read ‘on-tow’ sign attached to the rear.

When the two vehicles are attached by a rope or chain, the maximum distance allowed between the vehicles is 4.5 metres.

If the distance between the two vehicles is more than 1.5 metres, the rope or chain must be clearly visible within a reasonable distance from either side to other road users. This, for example, can be achieved by tying a coloured flapping cloth in the middle.

The person who is in the vehicle being towed must be a fully qualified driver entitled to drive that type of vehicle.

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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