New MOT test is tougher but more cars pass it

new mot test

The government revamped the MOT test in May 2018 to make it tougher. But its first year in operation has seen a significant decrease in the number of vehicles failing the annual test.

Under the previous rules, around four in 10 cars (about 40 per cent) that took their MOT every year failed it. However, the first year of the new tougher test saw only about one in three cars (33 per cent) declared unroadworthy by testers.

Millions of cars taken off the road

In the 12 months since the test was updated, the government’s Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) says approximately 31 million cars went for their MOT. Of those, 10 million failed the test. From those failures, 2.8 million were due to a dangerous defect. This would have to be fixed before the car could be driven again.

Nearly 1.2m vehicles failed the MOT because their exhaust emissions were too poisonous. These vehicles will either have had their engines tweaked to improve emissions and meet test standards or been scrapped.

Why is the number of failures down?

With the MOT stricter, you’d expect the number of failures to increase. One reason they may not have is due to exhaust emissions. The test is tougher on these now, but cars are getting cleaner and the number of diesels on the road is gradually falling. In addition, the newer cars get, the better their ability to control their emissions.

There is also speculation that a significant number of cars failed the previous test because of what are now classed as minor faults. Although these alert drivers to problems, they’re not considered threatening enough to prompt a failure.

What do most cars fail the MOT for?

According to the DVSA figures, the largest cause of MOT failures is lamps reflectors and electrical equipment. Problems with suspension, brakes, tyres, and visibility follow.

The DVSA claims that around half of all MOT failures could be prevented if drivers were to carry out checks themselves before taking their car for the £54.85 test. Read how to carry out your own pre-MOT check here.

Don’t let garages rip you off

There have been stories of garages forcing drivers to have expensive repairs done where the MOT test was carried out. The DVSA says garages should warn drivers that their car is in a dangerous state. But this is merely in an advisory capacity. There is nothing to stop drivers taking their car to another garage to have the repairs done. You might even ask another garage to collect the car.

If you put your car through its MOT before the test is due and it fails, you can still drive it on its existing MOT. That said, drivers should be aware that running a car with outstanding dangerous defects can result in a £2500 fine and points on your licence.

How the test changed

You can read in detail how the MOT was altered here. In short, it was brought up to date to make it more transparent for drivers. Rather than simply pass or fail, defects are now classed as advisory, minor, major or dangerous. Any major or dangerous fault is an immediate failure. Dangerous faults are judged to be ‘an immediate risk to road safety’ or ‘a serious impact on the environment.’

The big problem: people forget their MOT

The DVSA claims that about one in four drivers are late booking an MOT. That means there could be thousands of potentially dangerous cars driving around with a lapsed MOT. The problem is so acute, the government has come up with a handy MOT reminder service on its website. Go to its special page to set a reminder.

It might be cheap but the Daewoo Matiz isn’t particularly cheerful when it comes to passing its MOT

Which cars are most likely to fail their MOT?

According to What Car? the motor with the highest MOT fail rate is the Daewoo Matiz (1998-2005). The Suzuki Alto (1997-2004), Ford KA (1996-2008), Suzuki Alto (2004-2009) and Hyundai Amica (2000-2003) follow it.

7 comments on “New MOT test is tougher but more cars pass it

  1. Sylvie 13/10/2019 11:37 PM

    If I take car to another garage if failed to fix how long to take back for passed without paying for test again?

    • AH88 21/12/2019 9:55 AM

      You have 10 working days to have a partial retest, after that you would have to pay for a full test. Garages are not obliged to carry out a free retest and most will charge a partial fee if repairs are carried out elsewhere. Ideally you should research a garage’s reputation and prices before you present the vehicle for test. If you believe the test has been carried out incorrectly you can make a complaint to DVSA within 28 days as long as the vehicle is in the same condition.

    • Sylvie 22/12/2019 5:53 PM


  2. John Packham 21/12/2019 8:47 PM

    Yet they let Vintage cars on the road without needing an mot

  3. ron soulsby 22/12/2019 8:38 AM

    very good lets us know our rights thanks

  4. Mr P SHEPPARD 22/12/2019 9:00 AM

    Get to know the people at a good local garage.
    Put your car in with them for a service at least once a year – prior to the MOT test
    They will then reward you with a good service and find anything wrong with the car
    Ask them to organise the MOT test.
    Yes it may cost you a bit, but it relieves the problems caused by MOT failures

  5. Robert 22/12/2019 10:44 AM

    The next working day it should be free

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