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Common MOT fails & how to avoid them

Ellie Dyer-Brown, 8 months ago

4 min read

  • Advice
  • Maintenance
  • MOT
A young mechanic at car service taking notes

WhoCanFixMyCar explains the most common MOT fails as well as some of the simple steps you can take to avoid your car becoming one of those statistics

Every car that is more than three years old must pass an annual MOT test (unless it was made before 1960).

The MOT is an independent check of your car’s road worthiness and, over the course of an hour, will determine whether it is safe to drive on UK roads.

Unfortunately, not every car passes its MOT first time. The current rate is around 64 per cent. That figure rises to 72 per cent after a re-test.

So, what are the most common MOT fails and what can you do to increase the chance of passing your MOT first time?

Well, according to the people that know - namely the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA), which is the agency that oversees the MOT - lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment are the biggest causes of MOT failure, closely followed by suspension problems.

Top 10 Most Common MOT Fails

Top 10 causes of MOT failure
Lamps, Reflectors and Electrical Equipment17.80%
Brake Lights11%
Tyre Condition7.50%
Drivers View of the Road6.80%
Registration Plate Lamp4.50%
Tyre Tread4.40%

Source: DVSA

So now you know the most common reasons for MOT fails, what can you do to reduce the chance of your vehicle not passing its next test?

To help, we’ve highlighted below a few simple things you can do at home prior to your MOT test to boost your success rate. They are all quick and easy checks and are likely to cost nothing (well, apart from the 20 pence piece to check your tyres).

As always, if you have any specific questions it is always advisable to book an appointment with a garage and seek their professional advice.

Top Tips

Check your tyre tread with a 20p 

Place the coin into the tyre tread grooves, if you can't see the coin's outer band, then you are above the legal tread limit of 1.6mm.

Check all lights are working

Check all the internal and external lights are working (including indicators). If you are struggling, get a member of your family or a friend to help out.

Top up fluid levels

Before heading to the MOT test centre top up your fluid levels where necessary as this can make all the difference. Same applies to engine oil.

Test your brakes

When you brake, make sure the vehicle doesn't pull to the side. It’s also worth carrying out a visual inspection of the brakes themselves

No chips on the windscreen

Your windscreen must be clear of large chips and cracks. While you are at it make sure you inspect your windscreen wipers closely for things such as tears in the rubber as this could also cause you to fail.