The most common reasons for vehicles failing their motor trade MOTs at the local garage mechanic are lamps, reflectors, and indicators, however, according to data analysed by the RAC from the DVSA, brake and tire issues are more likely to result in serious failures.
In the 12 months leading up to March 2022, non-functioning headlights, indicators, and reflectors accounted for 25.5% of all MOT failures, while broken suspensions represented 19.4%.
Problems with brakes (17%) and tires (12%) were the third and fourth most common reasons for MOT failures, respectively.
Visibility issues, such as cracks on windscreens, accounted for just 8.7% of all MOT failures, simply hiring an auto glass technician could easily avoid this.
Approximately one-third of all initial MOT tests for cars, vans, and small passenger vehicles resulted in a failure, with drivers having to pay for repair work.
However, 8% of tests, equivalent to 2.4 million vehicles, resulted in a serious failure, where at least one dangerous defect was found, something you may need to report to your local private or motor trade insurance broker.
In such cases, where a vehicle cannot be driven until the defect is repaired, brakes and tires represented 88% of all such failures. This highlights the importance of routine checks on these components.
While the biggest causes of MOT failures have remained consistent over the years, the proportion of tire failures has slightly increased from 10% in 2018-19 to 12% in 2021-22.
All cars require MOTs three years after their first registration and annually thereafter. The cost of a car MOT test (class 4 vehicle) can be up to £54.80, and costs can quickly add up if repairs and parts are needed, particularly if a vehicle has not been regularly serviced.
It is crucial for drivers to keep up with vehicle maintenance, even in the face of cost-of-living pressures. Otherwise, they could fall fail in the term and conditions of their insurance policy and risk paying much more later for repairs, falling into a false economy trap.
The scope of the MOT has expanded since its inception in 1960 to include additional checks, such as vehicle emissions, which were added in 2018. In 2021-22, emissions failures accounted for 5% of all failures when combined with noise and leak faults.
In May 2018, the MOT underwent a major change, moving away from a simple pass or fail system with advisories to a new five-category system. Failures were split into two classes: major and dangerous, while three pass categories were introduced.
If you fail an MOT or have an expired certificate, you may be unsure about using your car or buying a new one. In some cases, your car may fail a new MOT while still holding a valid certificate.
If no “dangerous” issues are present, you can drive your car away, but it must always meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness.
If you disagree with the MOT decision, you have the option to appeal. However, driving without a valid MOT certificate can result in prosecution.
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If you’re uncertain whether a vehicle recall fault could affect your MOT, it’s best to consult your vehicle manufacturer. It’s important to note that new cars don’t require an MOT certificate until their third anniversary of registration.
If you’re purchasing a second-hand car, you should check its MOT status and arrange for a test.
If your car fails an MOT with “dangerous” or “major” problems, you may not be allowed to drive it until the issues have been resolved. Driving a car deemed “dangerous” can lead to a fine of up to £2,500, a driving ban, and 3 penalty points. Similarly, driving without a valid MOT can result in a fine of up to £1,000.
After your MOT test, the garage will update the DVSA’s database with pass or fail results. This information is accessible to anyone with your number plate and may result in prosecution.
Police cars and ANPR cameras can also flag cars without a valid certificate. If you suspect a car is being driven without an MOT, you can contact the police. They will investigate and may charge the driver with a £1000 fine.
To receive free text message or email reminders a month before your MOT is due for renewal, you can subscribe to the Department for Transport’s free service.