Most Common MOT Fails?

MOT Fails And What You Can Do To Prepare

MOT checks are a legal requirement on all cars older than three years from the date of registration. Thereafter, an annual MOT test is required. If you pass, you will receive a certificate which is valid for a year but what are the most common reasons for MOT fails?

Truth is, there are more MOT fails than you may realise. According to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, 40% of cars and 50% of vans don’t pass their MOT test. From faulty lights and poor brake performance to low windscreen washer fluid and insufficient tyre tread, you need to know how to prepare for an MOT test and what can result in an MOT failure.

What Does An MOT Test Include?

A DVSA-accredited service centre will perform an MOT test where examiners check all around, inside and underneath your vehicle. It is only a visual check where examiners inspect the vehicle for any potential issues but cannot make repairs. If any faults are found, you still need to book a service.

Some of the main parts or components included in an MOT check include the vehicle identification number (VIN), registration plate, suspension, windscreen, wipers, washer bottle, horn, seats, seatbelts, fuel system, emissions, bodywork, wheels and tyres.

MOT Fails And How To Avoid Them

Did you know that nearly half of all MOT fails are due to minor issues? Simple things like not topping up the screen wash or not removing clutter that might obscure windows can cause a vehicle to fail the MOT. These are all problems that people could easily have checked and rectified before the test. With that in mind, here are the top MOT fails in our list.

Recommended: ‘What Happens If I Fail My MOT?


Approximately 18% of MOT fails are as a result of faulty lights or poorly adjusted headlight direction. Make sure all the lights and lamps on your car are working correctly, including headlights, tail lights, indicators (and hazard lights), sidelights, brake lights and rear fog lights. Be sure to check the alignment of the headlights and adjust if necessary.

Suspension Issues

A worn suspension system accounts for 8% of MOT failures and involves bangs or knocks when driving over bumps or lurching when driving. All of these will result in a failed MOT so make sure you pay attention to unusual noises.

Park your car and see if it looks level and push down on each corner. Does it bounce up and down a few times or go back to its original position? If you have any concerns about your suspension, bring it to Elite Garages for a free safety check.

MOT Fails And Brakes

As important as brakes are, a shockingly high 10% of MOT fails are due to faulty brakes. During the MOT they examine the discs, pads and calipers as well as the relevant pipes and cables. Under the bonnet they will also look at the brake servo and master cylinder.

Pay close attention to squealing or grinding noises as both are signs that your brake pads are low. When you brake, see if your car stops in a straight line or pulls to one side. Inspect the discs and pads to check if the surface of the brake disc is smooth and how thick the brake pads are.

Many cars also fail the MOT because of handbrake issues so stop your car on a hill and apply the handbrake. If it doesn’t hold the car properly, you may have to get adjusted.

Wheels And Tyres

During the MOT, examiners will check that all four wheels are securely attached to the car with no missing bolts. They will also inspect the rims for damage, distortion or cracks and the condition of the wheel bearings.

Your tyres will be checked for cuts or bulges and whether all the tyres on each axle are the same size. Even though the spare wheel is not part of the MOT test, make sure it is securely mounted if outside the vehicle.

Check your tyres regularly, not just ahead of your MOT. Make sure the tyre tread is above the minimum legal requirement of 1.6 mm and use the right tyre pressure. Use a 20p coin to check the tread or simply visit Elite Garages for a free tyre check.

Recommended: ‘How To Check Your Tyre Tread

Clearing The Driver’s View Of The Road

Strangely enough, this makes the top five as 7.2% of MOT fails are as a result of obscured driver vision. It really shouldn’t be an issue considering how easy it is to avoid. Make sure you remove anything that may result in affecting the driver’s view of the road. This includes things blocking the windscreen such as an aftermarket GPS, elaborate air fresheners or dashboard figurines.

Other factors to consider are cracks and chips within the driver’s eye line. The checks in this category even include whether you can securely close the bonnet. They may find that there is a risk of your bonnet popping open and blocking the driver’s view.

Check Your Seats and Seatbelts

Regardless of the car you drive, it’s a legal requirement for all cars produced after 1965 to have seats securely fixed with seatbelts. Seatbelts must be securely fixed and in good condition, including the clip and locking mechanism. If you have inertia-reel seatbelts, they should also retract properly to fit around the driver.

Other Checks To Avoid MOT Fails

We’ve covered the most common MOT fails but here are a few other things you should do to ensure you are well-prepared:

  • Make sure that the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in your car’s V5C logbook matches the information on your car’s bodywork
  • Clean the exterior and interior of your vehicle, including the boot
  • Clean your number plates as they have to be clearly visible to pass the MOT
  • Ensure that your windscreen wipers are in good condition without any tears
  • Top up all fluids (windscreen wash, brake fluid and oil)
  • Make sure that the horn works
  • Check that all of your mirrors are intact and secure

MOT Tests At Elite Garages

Elite Garages have several DVSA-accredited MOT centres across the south providing MOTs on cars and small commercial vehicles. The test takes about an hour and you can also book a car service if you need any repairs. We also offer a free retest when it’s booked within 10 working days.

To help ensure you don’t fall victim to any of these MOT fails, book an MOT online. If you don’t want to forget your MOT ever again, simply sign up to become an Elite Member and receive a FREE text reminder.

If you are interested in advanced driver assistance systems, you can read more about it here.

Read more about MOT Easbourne and MOT Canterbury