The Most Common Reasons for Failing an MOT

All vehicles that are more than 3 years old need to have an annual MOT test, and these tests can be the source of worry for many, particularly drivers of cars that have seen better days. A failed MOT can result in costly repairs, and a vehicle can fail an MOT for a number of reasons, the most common of which we’re going to outline here.

The most common reasons for MOT failure may well surprise you; it’s not the engine, it’s not the steering, and it’s not the clutch. The most common reasons for failing an MOT are:

– Lights

– Tyres

– Suspension

– Registration plate

– Windscreen and wipers

– Exhaust system

– Brakes


Lights are responsible for 17% of MOT failures. These failures can be down to anything from a broken bulb to poor headlight aim, as well as faulty brake lights and indicators.


The tread depth on tyres is very important, and if yours are found to have insufficient depth – less than 1.6mm – your vehicle will fail its MOT. In fact, tread depth issues are responsible for 14% of MOT failures.

Registration plate

Perhaps one of the most surprising culprits. If your front or rear number plate has significant damage, or the light above the plate is faulty, your vehicle will fail the MOT; 14% of failures are due to number plate issues.


Windscreen wipers are the reason for 12% of MOT failures; visible tears or damage will somewhat unsurprisingly result in failure, but another factor is whether or not they leave smears on the windscreen when used. If they do, your vehicle will fail the test. With regards to the windscreen itself, your vehicle will fail the test if there are any chips or cracks that block the driver’s view of the road.


Overly worn suspension systems will cause your vehicle to fail the MOT test – 7% of failures are down to faulty suspension. If the suspension does not deal well with bumps and you can hear banging or knocking, or it lurches in a particular direction when you drive, your vehicle will fail its MOT.


It’s not surprising that brakes have a decisive say in whether or not your vehicle passes its MOT. In fact, 7% of MOT failures are down to brake issues. If they are found to have excessive wear or strange patterns of wear, that is grounds for an MOT failure.

Exhaust system

If your exhaust system is loose, makes excessive noise, is missing silencers or has evidence of corrosion, your vehicle will fail the test. 7% of MOTs are failed due to problems with exhaust systems.

If you’d like to be sure that your vehicle will pass its MOT, it can help to take it in for a service before your MOT is due. Qualified, skilled professionals like the ones at Watling Tyres will be able to identify and fix any problems with your vehicle, potentially saving you the great expense that can come with an MOT failure.

Watling Tyres are proud to provide MOT testing for vehicles of all kinds across our branches. Our expert team are skilled and experienced in testing vehicles, and identifying and repairing faults that your vehicle may have.

For more information about our branches that carry out MOTs, click here. To find out more about our other services, get in touch with us today.


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