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Why a third of cars and vans are failing the MOT test

Find out which types of faults catch out millions of motorists every year, and how you can increase your chances of passing

Mechanic fixing brake discs

More than 34% of cars and vans in Great Britain initially failed the MOT test, according to the latest figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA)*. The failed vehicles had an average of three faults.

The figures, taken over the course of a year, found that just four areas were to blame for most of the problems found by MOT testers.

Lighting and signalling were the biggest issues, causing 30% of defects. This was followed by suspension (20%), brakes (17%) and tyres (10%).

Keep reading to find out what you can do to help your car pass its MOT test.

Want a car that won’t let you down? We reveal the most reliable cars

Why do cars fail their MOT?

More than 7.5m cars and vans taken for an MOT in the 2017-18 tax year failed the test completely.

A further 2.4 million initially failed because of minor issues that the mechanic could fix at the time, such as re-aligning headlights or topping up windscreen washer fluid.

This meant the vehicle could then pass without needing a retest, known as a ‘PRS’ (pass with rectification at the MOT test station).

How to pass an MOT test

Many issues that cause a car to fail the test, particularly those in the PRS category, can be spotted and corrected before you take your car in, such as taking a few minutes to check your lights before you book your car’s MOT.

You also need to make sure your oil is topped up, as you may be turned away if it’s too low to complete the emissions test.

The good news for motorists is that the MOT failure rate for cars and vans is decreasing. It dropped from 40% in 2013-14 to just 34.5% in 2017-18.

This is despite a rise in the amount of vehicles being tested, from 27.5m to 28.9m, over the same time period.

If you want your car to pass its MOT first time, see our expert guide on how to pass an MOT check.

Find a garage you can trust

If it’s time for your MOT, or you need repairs or tyre fitting, find reliable garages near you that have been endorsed by Which? Trusted Traders.

All endorsed garages have been through our rigorous assessment process, including credit, reference and background checks.

You can also find out how other customers rated a trader by reading reviews that have been verified by our team of moderators.

*(Source: Gov.uk MOT testing data, year leading up to 5 April 2018)

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