Five daft reasons why cars fail the MoT

  • 4% of test failures on daft things
  • More than 4500 cars failed test due to lack of screenwash
  • Information taken from VOSA's MoT test performance data

Motorists cost themselves almost £500,000 each year by allowing their car to fail its first MoT test for the most ridiculous reasons, including failing to clear out clutter and plastering stickers on the windscreen.

Research by What Car? shows that nearly 4% of the 285,236 MoT test failures recorded between August 2012 and August 2013* were on cars having their first test, and so could have been easily avoided.

More than 4600 cars failed because owners had not topped up the screenwash, 2852 failed due to the car being dirty and full of clutter – while almost 800 were down to warning lights on the dashboard that drivers had simply ignored.

With an average MoT test price of £45, the 10,753 cars that failed their first test amounts to £483,885** wasted by UK motorists.

Overall, the most common reasons for MoT test failure are tyre tread depth being below the 1.6mm limit, brake pads being worn down to less than 1.5mm thick and headlamps being wrongly aimed.

Top five simple reasons for MoT test failure

  • Worn out tyres
  • Car excessively dirty or full of rubbish
  • Numberplate damaged, dirty or incorrect font/spacing
  • Driver's view obscured
  • Warning light on dashboard


What Car? consumer editor Emma Butcher said: 'There are some really simple things that every motorist can do to help a three-year old car pass its first MoT test, but it’s amazing how many people don’t do them.

'Most people probably don’t even realise that MoT testers can refuse to test your car if it’s too dirty or full of clutter.

'However, most know there are rules about having a standardised registration plate and yet we found 29 people whose car failed because their numberplate was the wrong colour, and 114 who presented their car without a numberplate at all.'

Whatcar.com’s MoT checker tool offers motorists advice on how to get their car through the test and ranks cars by make and model on their likelihood of passing first time. Owners can select their car via a simple drop-down menu to see an overview of previous MoT test failures, for example tyres, brakes, lights, suspension, visibility, registration plate, fuel system, as well as safety.

*All data extrapolated from VOSA’s MoT test performance data for the test period August 2012 – August 2013
**Average MOT price source: MoT Angel (www.motangel.co.uk) – 10,753 x £45 = £483,885

Don't fail your MOT because of a silly oversight 

Watch the video below to see our six-step guide to passing first time.

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