2020 MOT Failures List & How to Avoid Them

01 April 2019
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Ensuring you pass your MOT can be stressful and, with new rules that were implemented last year, it can be more confusing than ever to know what your car can fail its MOT on. Will a broken number plate fail an MOT? Will my car fail the MOT with a cracked windscreen? Does the engine management light fail an MOT in 2019? There’s a lot of areas to cover, which is why we’ve produced this helpful MOT guide to make sure your car passes with flying colours and you save yourself some money!

How many cars fail their MOT?

Since the rule changes were implemented in May 2018, around 190,000 more cars failed the test in the three months after the changes, compared to the three months before. The new rules mean your car could now fall into categories such as “minor”, “major” and “dangerous” for any defects detected. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6SwohYzaJoE

What Happens if you Fail your MOT

Can you drive away your car if it fails its MOT? This is where the new rules start to get a bit complicated. To cut a long story short, you can only drive your car away if: In the MOT, no ‘dangerous’ problems were noted Your existing MOT certificate is still valid If neither of these things applies, you’ll need to get it fixed before you can take it away. Your vehicle must also still meet the minimum standards of roadworthiness at all times even if you can take it away. If you ignore these instructions and continue to drive a vehicle that has failed its MOT due to a ‘dangerous’ problem, you can get banned from driving for a period of time, 3 penalty points and a hefty fine of up to £2,500.

Pre MOT checks to save you money

Before we get onto some of the most common causes for MOT failures, let's take a look at some of the ways you can prevent fails and save yourself some cash:
  • Check your windscreen wipers to ensure they’re in good condition. If not, it’s not expensive to get these changed and fitted yourself.
  • Make sure your headlights are clean and your number plate is fully visible. While you’re at it, make sure all bulb lights are working and replace them if they’ve gone.
  • Check to see if your screenwash, brake fluid or oil is running low and top them up if required.
  • Clear your view of anything that could be deemed as obstructive such as sat navs and phone holders. It might seem like a little thing but this can cause problems on your MOT!
  • Inspect your tyre tread and replace them if too worn. You will also need to pump up your tyres to the specified pressure according to your car handbook.
  • Finally, check your horn to see if it’s working. Unless, like us, you use it too often and definitely know it’s still working!

Lighting & Signalling

Lights are the most common cause for an MOT failure and there’s a number of ways your lighting can go wrong. It may be as simple as a blown bulb and this is the simplest and easiest fix. To prevent lighting and signalling tripping you up on your MOT, check your indicators (front, rear and side repeaters), brake lights (including central repeaters), number plate lights, rear fog light and front fog lights (if you have them!) As mentioned before, it’s important to clean your lights before an MOT but also check for any cracks or modifications that could affect the test. Warning lights on your dashboard can affect your MOT test result, the Engine Management Light, Air-Bag (SRS) light or Anti Lock Braking light being on will result in a failure.


Suspension issues are becoming an ever-increasing cause of MOT fails for UK drivers and it’s easy to see why when considering the state of our roads sometimes! Whilst suspension issues can be hard to prevent, you might want to time it so your service comes shortly before your MOT to eradicate any potential problems. Such issues are hard to spot but techniques such as: paying close attention to any strange noises coming from your car and manually checking the suspension by pressing down on your car and seeing if it returns to its normal position quickly, can help prevent further problems.


Another hugely popular MOT fail is due to the brakes. However, there’s not really an excuse for not noticing these issues as you can test them each time you set off in your car, all it takes is a few seconds. One of the telltale signs of poor brakes is a ‘spongy’ pedal which feels like the response time on your brakes isn’t what it once was. Other signs include strange noises, pulling to one side when you brake and brake fluid levels. If you notice any of the following you should contact a garage immediately as driving with poor brakes can be very dangerous and shouldn’t be risked. As a rule of thumb, brakes should need changing after about every 50,000 miles but bear in mind this is variable when driving style, type of car and terrain you drive in is taken into account.


It should go without saying, but tyres are another crucial safety aspect to your car. If they’re not in a good condition you could be at risk of not only failing your MOT, but endangering yourself on the road. You should be checking your tyres regularly for any issues with the tread, deflation, cuts or lumps, all which can cause you to fail your MOT or cause a dangerous blowout. We recommend getting your tyres changed immediately if you do notice any of the issues above and whilst you’re there, make sure you get the correct tyres fitted.   Whilst we’ve just listed a few of the key MOT fails and given advice on how to fix them, there are a number of other issues to watch out for. Driver’s view of the road, fuel & exhaust, seat belts & airbags, steering, reg plates, body and structure are just some of the other common issues that will fail your car. With a bit of time and effort, you can help prevent your car from failing its test, save some money and, most importantly, ensure you and other road users are safer on the roads!

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