Last year, some 1.13 million cars - 32% of those tested – were on the UK’s roads in an unsafe state, having failed their MOT. Between the end of May and December, this staggering number of vehicles were classed as having a dangerous defect.
Cars more than three years old have to have an MOT every year to ensure they are safe to be on the road – it is illegal to drive a car that hasn’t passed its test. In May 2018, the government changed the test so that instead of just passing or failing, cars were classed as having dangerous, major or minor defects.
Dangerous or major defects cause the car to fail. The Government describes a dangerous defect as presenting “a direct and immediate risk to road safety or a serious impact on the environment.” This could be a severely worn tyre or a problem with the brakes.
The difference between the two is that 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 has not expired. You can be fined up to £2,500 and banned for driving a car that has been found to have a dangerous fault before it’s fixed.
Minor defects, classed as those which have no significant effect on safety or the environment, don't result in a fail no matter how many of them there are, but you still need to have them fixed as soon as possible.
You can also be warned about advisories – things which are okay at the moment, but are starting to wear and will need fixing in the not too distant future.
The MOT has also became tougher on diesel emissions, failing any car that pumps out smoke, which would indicate that the particulate filter isn't working. Previously, testers only had to check that the filter was fitted.
The rules also changed for drivers of classic cars, which now no longer have to have an MOT if they are more than 40 years old and have not undergone any major changes to things like the chassis or engine.
Around 40% of cars fail their MOT each year – including 360,000 vehicles having their first MOT at just three years old. In 2016, the Driver And Vehicle Standards Agency said that around half these failures would be preventable through simple maintenance. Here are some things you can check before taking your car to the workshop:
Lights: Are all your lights working, including your indicators, brake lights and fog lights, with no cracks or chips?
Tyres: The minimum legal depth for your tyres is 1.6mm; they should also not have any cracks or bulges. You can buy a tread depth gauge from any car parts store, or you can use a 20p piece – if the outside rim disappears, the tread is deep enough.
Glass: There should be no chips or cracks within the area swept by the wipers on the windscreen. Outside that area, any damage should be no more than 1cm in diameter. The sweepers on the windscreen wipers should be intact, with no splits in the rubber.
At Carwise Group, we have a huge range of used cars for sale of a variety of makes and models – and they're all thoroughly inspected by our technicians before going on sale. If you'd like to test drive one of them, call us at whichever of our dealerships is most convenient for you – you'll find us in Dunstable, Harlow and Maidstone.