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Why Did My Car Fail It’s MOT?

New research has found which cars are most likely to pass their MOT tests and which are less reliable and fail, with some dropping significantly below the national average pass rate. The new data has also revealed that ‘lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment’ have caused the most MOT fails over the past three years.

The 10 best car manufacturers for MOT pass rate are:

  1. Ferrari – 94%
  2. Bentley – 91.6%
  3. Porsche – 88.35%
  4. Tesla – 87.08%
  5. Lexus – 86.86%
  6. Dacia – 84.96%
  7. BMW – 84.11
  8. Audi – 83.7%
  9. Skoda – 84%
  10. Suzuki – 83.69%

The 10 worst car manufacturers for MOT pass rate are:

  1. Chrysler – 72.48%
  2. Chevrolet – 72.61%
  3. Daihatsu – 72.22%
  4. Saab – 73.85%
  5. Renault – 74.55%
  6. Citroen – 77.04%
  7. Vauxhall – 77.18%
  8. Isuzu – 78.24%
  9. Peugeot – 78.41%
  10. Fiat – 78.64%

For tests taken between Jan 1st 2019 and Dec 31st 2021, lamps, reflectors and electrical issues accounted 13% of all failed checks as a result of one or more dangerous or major faults. Second and third on the list were suspension (9%) and brakes (7%) respectively.

While a failed MOT due to a lights issue is not a major cause for concern, as they can usually be fixed easily, an issue with your suspension or brakes can be much more serious and costly.


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How do you know if your car has passed it’s MOT?

You will always know if your car has passed its MOT as soon as the mechanic finishes the test. If it passes the garage will fill out the VT20 pass form, ask you to pay for the MOT and you can then go, safe in the knowledge your car is road worthy. However, if your car fails its test, you will be issued with a VT30 form, or ‘refusal’ of an MOT certificate. The mechanic will then explain why your car failed. 

Types of fault listed on an MOT

There are four types of fault listed on the MOT: Advisory, Minor, Major and Dangerous. Any Major or Dangerous fault means an immediate MOT failure. Advisory and Minor faults do not cause an MOT failure, but they are worth getting fixed as soon as possible to ensure the car is safe and running optimally.

1. Advisories

Advisory problems are issues that the tester has noticed, but either aren’t included on the MOT checklist or aren’t serious enough to warrant a fault. Advisories are discretionary, so you might see several or none at all. Do not ignore them! Think about booking your car in for repairs as soon as you can, or at the very least consider the impact of driving with them and how they will only get worse, so they are best to sort out sooner rather than later when they could cause more serious issues / costly repairs. 

Advisories are possible for any part of a car tested. Examples include:

  • Tyres
  • Brake pads
  • Brake discs
  • Leaking power steering rack
  • Traction control arm bushes
  • Bulbs

2. Minor

Minor issues on your MOT checklist aren’t severe enough to cause a failure. They are often simple repairs which will save you a lot of time and money if you get them fixed now, and don’t just leave them to get worse. Minor items are worth fixing on the same day as your test or very soon after to help maintain the safety and optimal running of your vehicle.

An example of a minor fault would something worse than an advisory on examples such as those above, say a dodgy bulb or brake pad limits getting close, but not yet to the stage of causing a fail.

3. Major

Major problems pose an instant and direct risk to the safety of yourself and others on the road, or they are harmful to the environment. Any major fault will fail your MOT and must be fix immediately.

Issues as simple as a broken headlight levelling device or a failed light anywhere on your vehicle are examples of major faults. There are of course many other major faults that you would consider much more serious too.

4. Dangerous

These are the most severe faults on an MOT and make your car dangerously unsafe. As a result of such a ‘fail’, you are not allowed to drive the vehicle away and it must be fixed immediately.

Examples of a dangerous fault include having no functioning brake lights, or an extremely loose steering wheel, a torn tyre with rubber separated from the rim or not having working brake lights.

All causes of MOT failure require immediate repairs. If you do not fix these issues your car is not road worthy and cannot leave the garage.


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How to solve an MOT failure?

When your vehicle fails its MOT you don’t need to book another appointment to fix any failures. All Click4Warranty approved garages appreciate the need for an approved MOT certificate and begin work on any necessary repairs as soon as you give them the approval to do so. After they contact you to say why your vehicle has failed, they explain what they can do to fix the faults. Then, as long as you choose to have the work done with them, the retest of your MOT is free.

During any required MOT retest, the mechanic check that the repairs have fixed the original failure and that all the work carried out still maintains the previous approved integrity of the vehicle too. This is free for a wide variety of defects, including those on wheels, tyres, mirrors, doors, lamps and indicators.

Note: An MOT retest only costs you if it is a) carried out more than ten days after the initial test (for a partial fee), or b) if you take your vehicle to a different garage for the repairs to be carried out (for a full fee). 

If choosing to have the work done immediately any MOT retest requires no further delays to schedule repair work or retesting. The whole process is done together and the MOT pass certificate issued.

What if I am unhappy with the MOT process?

If you are unhappy with the advice given, with the MOT process or that you have been unfairly treated, you can appeal the decision. Simply fill out a complaint form on the Government website within 14 days of a failed test and have your vehicle retested by an independent MOT tester. Your vehicle must complete this test in the same condition as the original MOT, so you cannot alter the condition of the car by making repairs beforehand. This ensures like-for-like MOT testing conditions for a fair appraisal of the situation. 

You should only begin this process if you are convinced your car should have passed its original MOT. Please note you will have to pay for the second appointment and a successful appeal will only result in a full or partial refund of this MOT retest fee. If the second garage feels the MOT failure was justified, you will still have to pay for any repairs, as well as the original test and potentially further retest fees. 

This process can be lengthy, so consider the fact that you probably will still want to keep using your car during these 14 days. However, you are not allowed to do this for a number of reasons.


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My car has failed its MOT, can I still drive it?

In most cases, no you cannot! If a mechanic finds a major or dangerous fault and issues you with a VT30 form, your car is no longer roadworthy and it is breaking the law to drive it. And even if you have an issue with the garage or mechanic that failed your MOT, you still can’t drive it while you wait for any appeal process to take place. Driving without a valid MOT certificate is a criminal offence with a £1000 fine if you are stopped by the police.

Further to this, if they find the ‘refusal’ certificate in the car’s documentation, you will have to pay an additional £2,500 fine for driving an unroadworthy vehicle. You could also face a driving ban or three points on your licence. 

When can I drive my car if it has failed its MOT?

There are two exceptions to the rules above. 

First, if your previous MOT certificate is still valid as you have booked your test earlier than the due date, you can still drive your vehicle as you still have a valid MOT. However, this is not advised as the MOT failure you have just received means your car is no longer safe for the road and driving it is a danger to you and others. Getting your car fixed early, retested and passed means you eliminate any issues before they come up, almost certainly imminently (i.e. when your MOT due date does come round).

Second, if your MOT fails on the same day as your previous certificate expires, but only if you’re driving to a garage for repairs or a pre-arranged MOT appointment. There are council-run MOT test centres, but these cannot complete repairs on site. If your vehicle fails here, you can’t leave until you book an appointment with a local garage that can make the repairs and can get your vehicle there immediately. If this is not possible you will have to book a tow truck to move your vehicle.

How do I avoid an MOT failure?

In simple terms, the best way to avoid an MOT failure is to keep your car maintained each year. There is a simple MOT checklist every driver should follow to do this, no matter what their level of experience. Regularly check items that can be an issue and are common ‘MOT fails’. Taking the time to periodically perform these safety checks also saves you time and money when your car’s MOT is due.

  1. Check all your lights. That doesn’t just mean checking they work, but also ensuring they stay on when they should, inspecting them for loose or damaged parts, and ensuring the light colours are correct and matching.
  2. Check your tyres have at least 1.6mm of tread, maintain the correct pressure, and ensure they have no cuts, bulges, bald patches.
  3. Assess your brakes to ensure they work efficiently, consistently and do not pull the vehicle to one side. Balanced brakes are crucial.
  4. Test your windscreen wipers and washers provide complete coverage. Confirm that they function properly for full visibility.
  5. Clear any obstructions from your view or the running of the vehicle, removing distractions to field of vision and debris that could cause blockages to vents.

Having your car serviced regularly always helps avoid MOT failures, as well as ensures your car is in optimal condition all year round.


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