Which cars are most likely to fail their first MOT?

A new car is more likely to pass its MOT first time than an older vehicle, right? It sounds like a logical assumption, but it’s not always the case.

According to data released by motoring website KnowYourCar, some vehicles have an almost one in four chance of failing their first MOT.

The data identified vehicles tested in 2019 (so bought new in 2016) as being among the worst performers. More about which makes and models are most likely to flunk the annual assessment later. First, let’s look at some MOT facts…

What does an MOT involve?

Short for the Ministry of Transport, MOTs are tests all cars must go through annually (once they are three years old) to ensure they are safe for the road.

The test includes checks of lights, tyres, fluids, steering and suspension to make sure they all meet legal standards of safety.

In May 2018, the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) introduced new rules and assessments for the MOT test. These means tougher guidelines for tyres, headlights and braking functions, as well as stricter carbon emissions tests.

The maximum cost for an MOT on a car or campervan is £54.85 and £29.65 for motorbikes. However, you may find individual test centres charge half those prices. Of course, costs soon increase if repairs are required.
A mechanic using a tool to check the tread depth of a car tyre

Reasons why cars fail an MOT test

According to data from the DVSA, around 40% of cars fail their MOT at the first attempt. However, many of the faults leading to a fail can be avoided with regular checks and maintenance.

Data from the DVSA detailing the top reasons why cars of all ages fail an MOT test.

1. Lights and indicators: 29.5%

2. Suspension: 20.2%

3. Brakes: 17.2%

4. Tyres and wheels: 10.9%

5. Driver’s view: 8.7%

6. Fuel and exhaust: 5.4%

7. Steering: 3.0%

8. Seatbelts: 2.2%

9. Bodywork and structure: 1.9%

10. Number plates / VIN 0.9%

The data from KnowYourCar tells a similar story, revealing that misaligned headlights is one of the most common reasons why a new car fails its first MOT.
However, the data also threw up another, more surprising reason – windscreen wipers failing to clean the windscreen properly.

A vehicle will fail its MOT if the wipers are either missing or not secure – fair enough. But a three-year-old car failing because its wipers are in such bad condition they can no longer clear the windscreen? That’s more of a shock.

Speaking about these findings, Dan Owen from KnowYourCar explained: “Misalignment can be caused by a number of issues, including minor collisions, faulty headlight motors and even assembly issues at the car factory.”

He continued: “These MOT results certainly explain why so many cars’ headlights tend to dazzle at night.”
Two mechanics talking to their boss in a workshop

Cars most likely to fail their first MOT

If you’re in the market for a new vehicle, read on. Here are the top 20 cars most likely to fail an MOT test.

1. SsangYong Rodius (diesel) – 76.87% pass rate (709 tested)
Topping the list is the diesel-powered SsangYong Rodius MPV. Of the vehicles tested, a worrying 23% failed their MOT.

2. Peugeot 5008 (diesel) – 77.15% pass rate (2,696 tested)
Almost 23% of the diesel version of Peugeot’s largest people carrier failed to pass an MOT at the first time of asking.

3. Dacia Sandero (diesel) – 79.03% pass rate (4,854 tested)
The first appearance of a Dacia on the list (there will be more), more than 20% of Sandero diesels failed their first MOT test.

4. Fiat 500L (diesel) – 80.88% pass rate (1,334 tested)
The Fiat 500L had an MOT pass rate of nearly 20%, with wipers causing most of the grief.

5. Isuzu D-Max (diesel) – 81.46% pass rate (5,221 tested)
Popular with small business owners, of more than 5,000 Isuzu D-Max registered in 2016, about 18% failed their first MOT test. It might be a truck, but headlight misalignment was still a key issue.

6. Dacia Logan (diesel) – 81.84% pass rate (2,225 tested)
When it comes to Dacias, the data shows diesel versions are more likely to struggle passing their first MOT than petrol.

7. Seat Ibiza (diesel) – 81.49% pass rate (551 test)
Less popular than the petrol variant, nearly one in five Ibiza diesel models didn’t pass the MOT test on the first go.

8. Dacia Sandero (petrol) – 81.7% pass rate (10,070 tested)
It’s the usual MOT testing issues for the Sandero petrol – poor alignment of headlights and wiper issues.

9. Ford Fiesta (diesel) – 81.74% pass rate (13,163 tested)
Next on the list is the UK’s most popular car – the Ford Fiesta. Headlights and exhaust emission problems were the main reasons for just over 18% failing.

10. Dacia Logan (petrol) – 81.83% pass rate (1,288 tested)
The Dacia hasn’t fared well on this list. A second appearance for the Logan, with nearly one in five of the petrol versions failing their tests last year.

11. Citroen C4 Grand Picasso (diesel) – 82.37% pass rate (3,188 tested)
The most common reason for C4 Grand Picasso diesel vehicles failing was the headlight aim being out of alignment. Second, was issues with the lamp that lights up the rear number plate.

12. Citroen C4 Cactus (diesel) – 82.49% pass rate (1,382 tested)
Another Citroen – this time the Cactus C4 diesel. 17% of the 1,382 tested last year got a red cross on their first MOT test.

13. Volkswagen Touran (diesel) – 82.58% pass rate (3,629 tested)
13% of the diesel-powered Tourans to fail their MOTs last year did so due to issues with their windscreen wipers.

14. Vauxhall Corsa (diesel) – 83.07% pass rate (5,405 tested)
One of the best-selling cars in the UK – mostly the petrol version. And a good job, because only 83% of the diesel variety passed their MOT last year.

15. Citroen C4 Cactus (petrol) – 83.17% pass rate (1,777 tested)
The petrol version of the C4 Cactus did nearly as badly as the diesel. Nearly 17% failed the test last year.

16. SsangYong Korando (diesel) – 83.81% pass rate (1,254 tested)
The SsangYong Korando is affordable, but with almost 16% failing MOTs for the first time last year, it may not be on everyone’s wish list.

17. Volkswagen Passat (diesel) – 83.9% pass rate (18,978 tested)
Of nearly 19,000 diesel Passats registered in 2016 and MOTed last year, nearly 16% failed. Most commonly because wipers failed to clear the windscreen.

18. Toyota Hilux (diesel) – 83.92% pass rate (5,602 tested)
The Hilux is known for being a durable vehicle, but with 16% of the latest model failing their MOT, they might be less dependable than you thought.

19. Nissan Micra (petrol) – 83.99% pass rate (11,088 tested)
Very popular in the UK, 16% of new Micras failed their first MOT last year. Windscreen wipers were responsible for 10% of those fails.

20. Renault Grand Scenic (diesel) – 84.21% pass rate (1,520 tested)
The main cause of failure in the Grand Scenic was misaligned headlights, but there were many other different issues, too.

If you run an MOT test centre, you may want to keep an eye out for the problems above.

At Insurance Choice, we offer motor trade insurance policies for a range of trades, tailored to your needs. Let us help you find the right motor trade insurance package for your business.

Get a quote today.