As soon as any car reaches three years old, it requires an annual MOT test to ensure it's legal and safe to use on British roads.
It assesses a range of vehicle components and functions to check they’re operating as they should, and any car that doesn’t have an MOT that needs one is illegal to use on British roads.
Figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) which oversees the MOT tests and maintains standards, show that around 29 per cent of cars fail an MOT test, and even many three-year-old cars fail their first MOT as well. But what are the most common reasons why a car fails its MOT? Let’s take a look.
The most common reason why a car fails an MOT test is down to something to do with a vehicle’s lighting, with this accounting for 18.9 per cent of all failed tests.
It’s often down to a headlight or indicator bulb being blown and no longer working. Before having an MOT test, you should check them but putting the headlights and indicators on and have a full look around the vehicle – don’t forget side indicators, either. Most bulbs can be relatively easy to replace and quite inexpensive as well, so it’s worth checking before having your MOT.
Figures from breakdown organisations such as the AA and RAC continue to show that the number of pothole-related callouts is on the rise, with the UK’s crumbling roads often being blamed.
Not only can potholes damage your car but your tyres, but also your suspension. Figures from the DVSA show that 13 per cent of MOT failures have to do with the suspension, with broken springs and corrosion often being to blame. Before having an MOT, it’s a good idea to listen out for any clunks, particularly over speedbumps. If the car is driving differently, it could point towards a suspension issue as well.
If you need to come to a stop quickly and safely, having good brakes is paramount for your safety. Despite their hugely important function, it’s an element that is often overlooked and accounts for around 10 per cent of MOT failures.
Worn brake discs and pads are a common fault, so you should listen out for any noises when you’re braking and slowing down. You should be able to see when the discs are getting fairly low too and need replacing.
You should regularly inspect your car’s tyres throughout the year, and not just at MOT time. That’s because, as the only part of the vehicle in contact with the road, they’re hugely susceptible to damage, which could cause a blowout.
Tyres accounted for 7.7 per cent of MOT failures according to DVSA data, but they’re far more commonly flagged as an advisory on an MOT certificate, which means that they will pass the test but need replacing soon. If they’re an advisory, we recommend having them changed as soon as possible. Before an MOT, inspect all tyres for any signs of damage, and also look at the tread – they need to have at least 1.6mm of tread, which can be measured using the outer edge of a 20p coin.
Being able to see out of your vehicle is essential, so it might come as a shock to learn that around seven per cent of all MOT failures are down to issues affecting the driver’s view out the window.
The reasons why cars fail for this are wide-reaching, including things blocking the windscreen, such as air fresheners and stickers, and ineffective wipers and chips that might restrict vision. Before an MOT test, it’s worth taking down any air fresheners or things that might be blocking vision, inspecting the glass for any damage and ensuring that the wipers can clean the glass properly without causing streaks or missed patches.