The Most Common MOT Fails (And How To Avoid Them)

By: John Tucker

As you’ll no doubt be aware, cars need a valid MOT certificate (as well as tax and insurance) to be able to drive on the public highway. An MOT basically declares that a car is roadworthy at the time of its test.

There are numerous individual MOT checks that are carried out by the test centre and the car must pass them all to be given an MOT certificate.

Of course, that means that there are many areas that can cause a car to fail its MOT. We’ve looked at data from the DVSA and put together this list of the most common MOT fails.

You may be surprised at some of the simple things that can cause a car to fail its MOT. In fact, there are quick pre-MOT checks that you can do to ensure your car passes its test.

common mot fails lights

Lights - 19%

It may come as somewhat of a surprise to know that nearly a fifth of all MOT fails are due to a problem with the car’s lights, which is often as simple as a blown bulb.

Daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1st March 2018 and reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1st September 2009 will now be checked in line with the new MOT guidelines .

These problems can be avoided by switching on all your lights, walking around your car and checking that they all work as they should, not forgetting to check that your indicators work as well.

Registration Plate - 14%

A large percentage of MOT fails are due to an issue with the car’s registration plate, whether that be damage to the registration plate itself or to the bulb. Your registration plate should be clearly visible in all weather conditions. If it’s not, your car will fail its MOT.

Suspension - 13%

Over the years, car manufacturers have tried to improve the ride quality of their cars. With suspension systems becoming more complicated, there are more parts to wear out causing MOT fails. Of course, the condition of roads is not helping this issue with the increased number of potholes causing more breakdowns than ever.

If you start to hear knocks or clunking noises as you’re driving, you may have an issue with your suspension. You can give your suspension a visual check by walking around your car when it’s parked and seeing if it looks level. If it looks like it’s sinking down at one corner, you may have a suspension problem.

mot fails drivers view of road

Windscreen & Driver’s View of the Road - 11%

The driver’s view of the road should be unobstructed, so anything that causes it to be blocked or impaired in any way could result in an MOT fail.

For example, chips or cracks in the windscreen that impair the driver’s view of the road, damaged wipers that don’t clear the windscreen properly or aftermarket additions such as sat-navs that obstruct the view of the road could all result in MOT fails.

Quickly checking the condition of your wipers and your vision through the windscreen could help your car pass its MOT first time.

common mot fails brakes

Brakes - 10%

As one of the most important parts of your car, it’s perhaps rather unsurprising to know that one in every ten cars fails its MOT due to issues with brakes.

This could be problems with brake pads wearing thin, damage to the brake discs or problems with the handbrake. Fortunately, you should be able to diagnose some brake problems before your car has its MOT.

When you’re driving, if you hear any unusual grinding or squealing noises when you apply your brakes, you should give your local garage a call and have your brakes checked otherwise you may have problems that would constitute an MOT fail.

Check you handbrake too. Park your car on a hill and apply the handbrake. If your car rolls backwards at all, it will need attention.

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Tyres - 8%

Your tyres are a vital component and any damage they sustain can drastically alter how safe your car is to drive. As you would imagine, there are quite a few MOT fails caused by issues with tyres.

If you’re driving and you notice that, especially in damp conditions, your appears to lose grip around corners, there’s a strong chance that your tread is wearing thin. Any strange noises should be paid attention to as well.

Once your car is parked, have a feel around the tyres. You’re looking for lumps, bumps or tears to the tyre wall that could result in a blowout if left untreated.

Look for any uneven wear to the tyres. Are any tyres wearing more on the inside or outside? If so, this could be a sign of poor inflation or incorrect wheel alignment.

Finally, you’ve probably heard of the 20p test. If not, take a 20p and insert it in one of the tread grooves in each tyre. If you can still see the outer band of the coin, your tread may be below the legal limit of 1.6mm and you could face both a hefty fine and penalty points on your licence.

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common mot fails exhaust

Exhaust - 8%

With the new MOT guidelines coming into force on 20th May 2018, emissions checks on diesel cars with diesel particulate filters will be even more strict.

Basically, if the MOT tester can see any smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust, or find any evidence to suggest that the DPF has been tampered with, your car will be given a major fault and an immediate fail.

In addition to checking your exhaust for any visible smoke, listen for how noisy your exhaust is as this could be a sign of a problem.

Steering - 7%

If your car pulls to one side as you drive, or you can feel a lot of vibrations through the steering wheel, it could be a sign that you have issues with your steering that could result in an MOT fail.

If you have any concerns about your steering, make sure that you contact your local garage and have it checked as soon as possible.

As you can see, some of the most common MOT fails could be avoided by doing something as simple as walking around your car and having a look.

There are simple pre-MOT checks that can be carried out to help your car to pass its MOT first time so, before you book your MOT, take a little time to check your car for any potential problems.

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