How to Prevent an MOT Fail

How to Prevent an MOT Fail

Published: 17.05.2021

Vehicles fail their MOT for small issues that could’ve been easily avoided pre-test. You may be alarmed to find out what can fail an MO, as some issues really are quite minor. Why not organise an MOT checklist before the date of inspection to ensure your vehicle is in the best possible condition? This will allow you to be one step ahead of the tester!

Here at Duffy, we thought we would curate a list of some quick things you can do to give your vehicle the greatest chance of passing its MOT. See more detail below.

  • Maintain a good level of cleanliness, inside and out. A boot full of mess and an overly dirty car can lead to an examiner refusing to carry out the inspection.
  • Number plates should be cleaned as they must be readable to pass the MOT.
  • Check windscreen wiper condition, look for any tears.
  • Are all lights in working order? Ask a friend or family member to stand outside the car and confirm they are functioning correctly.
  • Check tyre tread using the 20p test, and don’t forget tyre pressure too
  • Top up all fluid levels including screen wash, brake fluid and oil.
  • Check your horn works – give it a quick beep!
  • Your mirrors should be intact and fastened to confirm you can use them securely.
  • The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in your V5C logbook should match the markings on your car’s bodywork.

The Most Common MOT Fails

Lighting and signalling

Nearly a fifth of all cars that fail their MOT are due to an issue with lighting – it can be as simple as a blown bulb. To check your lights are in working order, switch your lights on and walk around your car. Are the indicators working as they should? Remember to check your number plate light. We also recommend checking the condition of your lights, often plastic lenses become misty over time so it may be worth purchasing a kit to clean your lights ahead of your inspection. Look out for any cracks in your lights, too.


Data provided by the RAC shows that they assisted over 6,500 breakdowns caused by potholes, so it is no surprise that over 1 in 10 MOT failures are caused by suspension issues. It can be concealed fairly well, so you can be forgiven for not noticing a leaky shock absorber or a snapped spring. Pay attention to any noises that occur out of the ordinary during everyday driving in particular when cornering or passing over bumps. Some little checks to go over can be park your car up – does it sit level? Is it too high, or too low? Walk around the car and try pushing down on each corner, does it return back to its original level?


It is pretty self-explanatory how important brakes are, however 1 in 10 cars fail their MOT due to problems with braking systems. Make sure you listen out for any squealing or grinding noises coming from your brakes, these are tell-tale signs that the pads are wearing low. When braking, does your vehicle stop in a straight line or does it swerve to a particular side? You may need to remove the wheel to do this, but we recommend that you should inspect the discs – Is the surface of the brake disc smooth? How thick are the brake pads?


Your car can be fitted with the very best safety systems in the world, but if your tyres aren’t up to scratch, you can unknowingly put yourself in serious danger. All vehicle owners should check their tyres regularly, and not just for an MOT; UK law states that tyres must have 1.6mm of tread within the central three quarters. A simple way to check if yours meet this requirement is to insert a 20p coin – if the outer rim is visible, your tread is too low, and this could lead to a fine of up to £2,500 and land you with 3 penalty points per tyre. You shouldn’t just rely on the visible tread – feel the inside of the tyre as uneven wear can be a sign of issues with alignment or inflation. While checking your tyres, look out for lumps or cuts as both could cause a blowout and should be fixed as soon as possible.

If your car does fail it’s MOT

If you fail your MOT, the test centre will issue you a VT3O Certificate exhibiting the reasons for the fail.

If your car has a dangerous fault – you will be unable to drive your vehicle away. You should get a quote from the garage you received the MOT from, or you can call around for some quotes from other garages.

If your car has a major fault – dependent on severity you may be able to drive it away and if your previous MOT has not expired yet.

If your MOT has run out and the car is roadworthy – you can drive it to have the faults fixed and to a pre-booked MOT. Without an MOT or if you drive with dangerous faults, you can be fined £2,500, be banned from driving and get 3 points on your licence.