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2018 – Top 4 MOT Failures

Check your headlight casings and bulbs before MOT

It’s that time of the year again and your car is due an MOT. If you’re not too sure when your vehicle’s MOT is due use the free MOT checker here. As many as 40% of vehicles FAIL their MOT test on the first attempt (*1). MOT re-tests are generally free – but it’s time, hassle and inconvenience many drivers could avoid.

Any labour involved in refilling your washer water, changing a bulb or wiper blade will be charged at the garage’s regular rate. Also – you will be charged a premium for any parts required to get your car through the MOT

An obvious MOT failure

Common Reasons for MOT Failure

Here’s the list of most common reasons for MOT failure and some guidelines to help get your car through the MOT. You may also find our MOT Self-Checks guide useful before booking your car in for it’s MOT test.

MOT Tip > if your car is new to you it can be useful to know why the vehicle has failed previous MOT tests. Did you know you can obtain a free MOT history report from

The data below has been compiled from the website’s data – an external link can be found at the bottom of this post. It’s quite amazing to see that nearly 1 in 5 cars fail an MOT due to a blown lightbulb or similar.

1) Lights & Signalling – approx 20%

This covers all aspects of illumination and signalling. Don’t forget to check the following

  • Brake lights
  • Indicators
  • Number plate light
  • Revering light
  • Headlights & sidelights

If your car has plastic lens covers check that they are not misted over – this will affect the efficiency of the headlights and may lead to a failure. Headlight cleaning kits are available from stores such as Halfords. If the lens cover is glass – check it for cracks and chips.

2) Suspension – approx 10-15%

If you do find something wrong with your suspension it’s worth getting it repaired BEFORE the MOT test. This way you have the opportunity to get a couple of quotes and get the best price. Suspension problems manifest themselves in various ways – sometimes subtle, other times very obvious. Knocking, clunking or banging – especially when turning a tight corner or driving over a speed bump or pothole – can be an indicator of a suspension problem.

Push and Bounce

The old way of checking a cars suspension – before the days of electronically controlled dampers etc – was to push down hard on each corner of the car. The desied result is for the car to dip down once, under pressure of the push, then return to the original position. The undesired result is for the car to bounce several times before settling ack down.

Get a Professional to check

If you think you may have an issue with your suspension, please get a professional mechanic at your local garage or auto-centre to check it out for you.

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3) Tyre Condition & Pressure – approx 10%

This is something most people can check themselves. Key points to look out for are :

  • Correct tyre pressures – refer to owners manual or sometimes inside the door pillars or petrol flap.
  • Check minimum tread depth. The minimum tread for a car is 1.6mm. Most modern tyres have a convenient tyre wear tread depth indicator strip. Look inside one of the deep treads running around the tyre and you should be able to locate a wear indicator – running at 90 degrees to the tread. If the main tread is at the same height – or lower – than the wear indicator the tyre will fail an MOT.
  • Look for obvious damage to the tyre such as cuts in the sidewall, bulges or even nails, tacks or similar stuck in the tread.

4) Brakes & Braking System – 10%

1 in 10 cars fail an MOT due to brake related issues. Similar to your car’s suspension, this is better left to a qualified mechanic. There are some basic things a driver can check themselves.

  • Does the car pull to one side when braking hard? If so, book it in to your local garage or auto-centre before the MOT.
  • Check brake fluid levels. Before booking your car in for an MOT check the level of brake fluid in the resevoir. There should be easily defined MAX and MIN levels on the side of the brake fluid resevoir. if you are having to top up the brake fluid regularly – then you should get the car looked at. It is NOT normal to have to top up brake fluid more than once a year or so – if that.

More Services from

Check your car’s MOT expiry date – don’t get fined for an out of date MOT. It’s very easy to mislay your MOT certificate, if in doubt, check it out. This free service provided by provides accurate details on your vehicle including make, model and MOT expiry date.

Browse your car’s MOT history – check your vehicle’s MOT history back to 2008. When buying a car or other vehicle it could be very useful and even save you hundreds of pounds to uncover any recurring MOT failure points. A FREE MOT history can highlight whether your car passed / failed and what, if any, advisory notes were reported.

Check when your car’s vehicle Tax expires – avoid a £1000 fine and wheel clamping. Every day your untaxed vehicle remains on the road and untaxed the fines grow. In the worst case scenario this can result in your untaxed car being impounded or even crushed.

Report an untaxed vehicle – why should we all pay if someone else doesn’t bother – make an anonymous report to

A few things to check yourself before booking your car’s MOT. Avoid failing an MOT for a tedious or trivial matter such as an indicator bulb or wiper washer water.

What are the most popular causes of MOT failure? A shortlist of the 4 most common reasons for MOT failure. Some tips on what to avoid and what to leave to the meachanics.

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