Expert Blog

How to pass your MOT test

20180130_No change for new car MOTs [2]

Psst! Is your MOT up for renewal? Want to improve your odds of passing? Well, you might want to think about having your pride and joy tested at this place I know.

It’s called the Isle of Man.

Or if that’s not exactly handy, and you don’t fancy a trip on a heaving ferry, how about Romford? Or Bromley?

These three places had the lowest MOT failure rates in the country last year, according to figures recently published by Automyze, the AA’s car management website. Automyze analysed more than one million MOT records of UK registered vehicles owned by AA members, looking at pass and fail rates. The Isle of Man had a pass rate of 71.8 per cent, Bromley 67.0 per cent, and Romford 66.6 per cent.

By contrast, you probably don’t want to go to any trouble to get your car tested in Dundee, which had the highest failure rate – 53.5 per cent, more than 22 per cent higher than the Isle of Man, and equivalent to more than half of cars tested.

In fact, Scotland doesn’t seem to be the luckiest place to get an MOT done: seven out of 20 towns and cities with the highest MOT failure rates were north of the border, with almost half of cars in Aberdeen and Perth failing their last MOT.

But things aren’t any better at the other more temperate end of the country, the South West, where four out of five of the UK cities with the highest MOT fail rates are located – Truro with 51.5 per cent, Plymouth with 51.3 per cent, Exeter with 50.5 per cent, and Bath 49.5 per cent.

The average first-time failure rate for the MOT nationally is 38.3 per cent – which translates to 8,039,725 fails out of a total number of (class 3 & 4) tests of 27,669,148.

The South East of England has the best pass rates in the country. Eighteen out of the 20 towns and cities with the lowest MOT failure rates were in London and the commuter belt such as Twickenham, Harrow, Dartford, Sutton, Enfield, Croydon, Kingston – and the already mentioned Bromley and Ilford.

So, why the wide regional disparity? Unfortunately, the Automyze study doesn’t answer that question. Or include information about how long people have owned their cars, nor the type of vehicle they own. Climate might be a factor if we were comparing Dundee with the South East – but the South West’s climate isn’t so much different to the South East’s, except even damper.

However, the most obvious difference between the South East and Scotland and the South West is money. The South East has a lot more of it than either of the other two. So it’s possible that, on average, the Automyze registered vehicles in the South East are newer and better-maintained.

On the other hand, maybe cars in Dundee and Truro are not older or less well-maintained than cars in the Isle of Man and Bromley. Perhaps – just perhaps – some of the variations might be explained by testers in Scotland and the SW being, shall we say, slightly more thorough than testers in the South East.

Then again, the fact that four out of the top eight towns for MOT passes are in Essex might just be a sign of the pride that county famously takes in its motors.

While it’s fun to speculate, the only thing we know for sure is that the most common MOT failures everywhere are for preventable faults such as tyres, headlights and indicators.

According to figures from the Driver and Vehicles Standards Agency, the most common faults, affecting a blinding 30 per cent of cars tested, were for lights and signalling. One in ten had tyres that were not of suitable condition or pressure, while 8.5 per cent of cars failed the ‘drivers view of the road’ checks (mirrors, windows and washers).  

In other words, nearly half of MOT failures are caused by issues the driver could have checked themselves, saving them the trouble and expense of a retest.

So, rather than take the ferry to the Isle of Man, you should probably just check your washer fluid. Along with any advisories you have still outstanding from your last MOT.

Guest blogger Mark Simpson, journalist, writer and broadcaster.

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