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9 Common Reasons for Failing an MOT

ByDave Stopher

Oct 19, 2021 #Motoring

As a vital – and occasionally frustrating – part of car ownership is the MOT test.

Standing for Ministry of Transport, the MOT test is performed annually to ensure the roadworthiness and safety of your vehicle, and is applicable to all vehicles three years old and over.

Testing mechanical parts and also factors like your vehicle’s emissions, the MOT test is comprehensive for sure.

Typically the case for older cars, passing the MOT test can be a nervous time, as any number of issues can see your vehicle fail – even something as small as defective window wipers or not having any water in your washer system.

Why is it essential to pass an MOT test?

For those in the UK, it is a legal requirement for cars older than three years to have a valid MOT certificate – a fine of up to £1,000 can be issued if your vehicle is found to be out on the road without one.

The MOT is in place largely to keep the cars on roads as safe as possible for the safety of both the driver and those around them.

Reasons for failure of an MOT test

Various reasons can contribute to the failure of a vehicle in the MOT test, given that so much of the vehicle is investigated, with a total of 20 parts and systems looked at.

Let us have a look at the nine most common reasons for failing an MOT:

Suspension wear and tear

Suspension is one of the most common reasons for an MOT failure, contributing up to 24% of the MOT failures cases.

The suspension has many moving parts in its system, and these parts undergo constant motion, making it heavily prone to wear and tear. If you want to avoid wear and tear of your car’s suspension, try avoiding bumps and potholes where possible whilst driving.

Light Bulbs

Bulbs or headlights may sound like trivial things, but are enough for your vehicle to fail MOT tests. A total of 19% of MOT failures are due to faults in bulbs or signalling lights on the vehicle. While driving in the daytime, a driver might neglect such functions, but whilst driving at night, it can easily be a reason for a road accident, therefore causing a threat to other road users.

Tyre and Roadwheels Conditions

The tread on your tyres is vital to the handling of your vehicle and its ability to stay true to the road. MOT failure rate due to tyre conditions is about 13% of all failures, and it’s easy to have happen, as many do not keep informed on the current tread depth left on their tyres.

The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm – anything under this is not only considered dangerous, but also an MOT fail.

Windscreen Wipers and Washers

To have a clear look out of a car’s front view, windscreen wipers are an integral factor – they are also a big aspect when it comes to MOT failures. While a small thing for many, it contributes to about 11% of MOT failures. Broken wipers are sometimes not particularly apparent, so it’s important to give them a good check over ahead of your MOT to spare any later pains. If your wipers are failing to clear the screen properly when in use, then it’s probably more obvious you have an issue to sort.

Loose or Damaged Brakes

Brakes can be lifesavers at times, but if they are loose or damaged for any possible reason, they can easily cause fatal accidents. Around 17% of MOT failures are due to dysfunctional brakes, and are probably one of the more immediate issues that might become apparent when checking the vehicle over.

Damaged or Rusted Number Plates

Dirty number plates are prone to corrosion, so it can be surprisingly important to keep on top of keeping your number plates clean. Number plates are essential for the identification of the vehicle whenever necessary, so, ensure your registration plates are in good condition. MOT failure rate due to corrosive or damaged number plates is 1%. However, a lower figure percentage does not mean that you should take this less seriously.

Fuel and Exhaust Issues

A broken fuel and exhaust system can be harmful to the environment. If you wish to pass MOT testing, your exhaust system must meet strict and mandatory environmental emission standards.

Due to the excessive use of fuels to meet our daily needs, the emissions from the rate of fuels expelled is naturally very high. To quell this environmental imbalance, fuel and exhaust systems need to follow the strict guidelines for maintaining ecological standards. Failing to meet the standards will result in a failed test. Approximately 5% of vehicles report MOT failure due to fuel and exhaust systems.

Fluid Flow in the Steering

Steering fluids help in transferring power in your car when you are steering, which helps in the smooth functioning of the steering wheel. To prevent the sludge from accumulating in the car, the right amount of fluid flow is essential. Otherwise, you will face difficulty in steering and might face a squeaky steering wheel. Around 34% of issues of MOT failure are due to low fluid flow in the steering.

Indicators Issues

Indicators play a vital role in any automobile, and so play an important part in the MOT test. A simple device that plays such a big part in driving, your indicators can stop an accident from happening, and a lack of indicators can see one being caused – quite easily. A dysfunctional or broken indicator will naturally cause a failure of your MOT, just like the 3% of MOT failures due to the indicators.

At present, the overall MOT failure rate is 10%, which is a heavy reduction compared to the failure rates in 1960 when this annual process was introduced. MOT failures are decreasing with every increasing year, a vindication of manufacturers developing and manufacturing more robust and efficient vehicles for the market.

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