Most common MOT fails and how to avoid them

Most Common MOT Fails And How To Avoid Them

Don't get caught out on your next MOT. We've got you covered with the most common reasons motorists fail so you can make sure your car passes first time

With more than 10 million cars failing their MOT in the first 12 months of the new test regulations being introduced, it’s no wonder many of us are nervous about taking our car in for its annual check.

Here at Hitachi Personal Finance, we’ve put together a list of the most common MOT fails with helpful and practical advice on how to avoid them.


It’s hard to believe that something as minor as a blown bulb could result in being the number one cause of failure even though they are the easiest and cheapest to fix. Before taking your car in, be sure to check ALL of your exterior lights (including indicators) by switching them all on and walking around your vehicle. For brake lights, either ask a member of your household to help you out or check them in a reflective surface eg. Window.


Potholes and badly patched up roads are one of the main reasons that suspension failures are becoming more common. There’s little you can do apart from crawling under your car to check it out pre-test, however taking care when driving so you can avoid them is the next best thing.


It’s always worth keeping an eye on your brakes and as soon as they start to feel ‘spongy’ when engaged or your car pulls to one side while braking, it could be an indication that your pads need replacing. The general rule of thumb is to get them changed roughly every 50,000 miles depending on driving style.


Since your tyres are the only part of your vehicle that is in constant contact with the road, making sure that they are in good condition should be something you check on a regular basis. Driving with bald tyres or with treads less than the minimum of 1.6mm is not only dangerous but illegal, resulting in a £2,500 fine and 3 points on your licence PER TYRE.

However, with a simple check using a 20 pence piece, can save you failing your MOT or getting a police fine. All you have to do is pop the coin into your tyre tread and if the top of the tread lines up with the outer band of the coin, you’re good to go.

Blocked view

Whether it’s a cracked windscreen or one too many car air fresheners hanging down from your rear a view mirror, you could end up being failed for an obstructed view. Before taking your car into the garage, make sure to remove any phone cradles, stickers, and other objects that could be seen as an obstruction as well as getting any chips and cracks repaired.


Any vehicle – especially diesels which are found guilty of producing high emissions will be subject to an instant fail. Pre-MOT treatment packs can be found on sale to help clean out the fuel system before testing and a nice long drive at high revs up the motorway is a great way to warm up the engine and clear out the cobwebs.

Safety first

Having correctly functioning seat belts and airbags should be at the top of every driver’s to-do list. Seat belts should retract correctly and be free of any tears which could prevent this from happening, as well as being twist and knot-free. Also ensure all airbags are intact and no warning lights are showing on your dashboard – after all, it’s important that they work.


Any loose or sharp edges e.g. a loose bumper or a damaged door could result in a fail so make sure to have these fixed ahead of your test date. Things like rust can’t be helped but its good practice to keep your car as clean as you can especially during the winter months when salt and grit from the road can cause damage.

Number Plate

Nice and simple – your number plate needs to be clear and visible or you could be failed. That means it needs a good wipe down to get rid of any dirt as well as ensuring it’s legible. Also, all number plates need to conform to DVLA standards so that means no fancy fonts or dodgy spacing.

For more practical advice, read our 10 simple tips to help you pass your MOT article which includes a free downloadable checklist.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.


Live chat

best live chat