New MOT test is tougher but more cars pass it

New MOT test

One in three cars have failed their MOT since the government changed the test last year. In the 12 months following the update in May 2018, 31 million cars went for the test and 10 million failed, according to the government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency. Of those failures, 2.8 million were the result of a dangerous defect, which has to be fixed before the car can be driven again. Nearly 1.2 million cars failed because their exhaust fumes were too toxic.

Yet despite parts of the test becoming stricter, this actually marks a decrease in the proportion of cars which failed – from around 40 per cent. Journalist James Foxall, writing for insurers Green Flag, explained that this may be partly due to cars becoming less polluting.

What were the changes?

Before, cars just passed or failed. Now, defects are classed as advisory, minor, major or dangerous. Major or dangerous defects mean the car fails.

A dangerous defect is one that is judged to present “a direct and immediate risk to road safety or a serious impact on the environment” – for example, a severely worn tyre or a problem with the brakes. If your car is found to have a dangerous fault, it is unroadworthy and can't be driven until the problem is fixed, even if your MOT hasn’t expired. You can be fined up to £2,500 and banned from driving for doing so. If the car only has a major fault, you still fail and need to get it fixed, but you can drive it until your existing MOT expires.

You don’t, however, have to have the repairs done at the garage which did the test even if the defect is dangerous – you can ask another garage to collect the car.

Why do cars fail?

The DVSA says issues with lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment are the biggest reason for MOT failures, followed by problems with the suspension, brakes, tyres and visibility. The agency also says around half the failures could be prevented if drivers checked their car over themselves before taking it for the test, which costs £54.85.

Around one in four drivers are also late booking their MOT. You can set a reminder at

Which cars are most likely to fail?

According to What Car?, the car with the highest MOT failure rate is the 1998 to 2005 Daewoo Matiz, followed by the 1997 to 2009 Suzuki Alto, the 1996 to 2008 Ford Ka, and the 2000 to 2003 Hyundai Amica.

At Harlow and Maidstone car dealers Carwise Group, we have a wide range of used cars for sale of a variety of makes and models. Our in-house technicians also carry out servicing and repairs – so whether it’s time for your MOT or not, if anything’s not quite right, just bring your car in and we’ll get it sorted. Call us on 01622 233151 or 01279 216163 – we’re open seven days a week.