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Stricter MOT rules deliver bad news for more UK drivers than ever

Changes were made to the MOT test in May 2018, updating what it checks for and deems acceptable as roadworthy for the 30 million vehicles on the roads of the UK, as they undergo their yearly appraisal.

Figures supplied to Green Flag by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (the DVSA) revealed some food for thought areas regarding the condition of a substantial percentage of the cars in daily use throughout the UK today.

Stricter checks for new MOT regulations

The new figures show far more cars are failing the test than in previous years, and at a considerable rise of around 33% since the latest test regulations were introduced.

Out of over 30 million MOT tests throughout England, Scotland and Wales in 2018, over 10 million failed to pass the certificate, compared to the 7.3 million total in 2017.

2.8 million (around 9%) of the new MOT certificate failures were due to ‘dangerous’ defects and over 9 million (44%) were due to ‘major faults’.

The new stricter MOT checklist, with its new 3 level defect categorisation (minor, major and dangerous), comes down heavier than ever on poor emissions testing, with smoke of any colour being emitted by the exhaust scoring a major fault.

Another new major emissions fail is if evidence is found of the DPF (the diesel particulate filter — the device that removes and stores exhaust soot in diesel cars) being tampered with.

Hefty fines for cars that carry the new MOT dangerous defects

The new MOT ‘dangerous defects’ dictate the vehicle unsafe for road use and simply not road legal. The really bad news for drivers is that this can result in a fine of up to £2,500 for motorists caught out with any of these issues.

What does this new MOT data mean?

Looking into the figures doesn’t necessarily mean that our cars are less safe, just that we’ve been getting away with it a little easier until recently.

The stricter regulations are simply catching out more drivers, who more than likely wouldn’t have the first idea that their car wasn’t operating in tiptop condition anyway.

Some sources are suggesting that drivers are extending the use of their cars before updating to a new vehicle. Their older cars being susceptible to faults from prolonged wear and tear or accidental damage and, subsequently, more likely to fail their MOT test. Which is hardly surprising in today’s economy.

As always, any vehicle to fail the MOT certificate test must have the faults fixed before retesting to gain the document required for legal road use. This is probably only good news for the mechanics and garages charging you for these extra levels of service.

Additional rules for 2018 MOT testing

As well as the stricter smoke and DPF tampering rules of the new 2018 MOT failures, drivers will also be punished for:

  • Underinflated tyres
  • Contaminated brake fluid
  • Fluid leaks (considered to be an environmental risk)
  • Missing brake pads or discs or brake warning lights
  • Inoperative reversing lights (for vehicles introduced from September 2009)
  • Headlight washers (also for vehicles introduced from September 2009)
  • Daytime running lights on any vehicle introduced from March 2018

The worst first-time MOT failure offenders according to MOT testing centres

A mechanics’ report from MOT testing centres has ranked the Citroën C4 Grand Picasso as the car most likely to fail its first MOT.

It appears it’s not only older cars with obvious and expected areas of wear and tear that are failing the new MOT testing. A host of new cars from a wide-ranging selection of marques are failing it too.

The number one offender from the French giant, a typical family car, was judged the worst with a shocking 22% failure rate going through its first MOT test.

Admittedly, this type of car is synonymous with family use, and many are driven as taxis. It’s a dedicated, hard-working vehicle, as is the Ford Galaxy, the runner-up for this shame-faced award, with a 21.7% failure rate.

That being said, you would expect better than a one-in-five chance of passing your MOT for any car that’s only just past the 3-year-old mark.

Some of the cars to look out for if you’re hoping to dodge unnecessary expense at your MOT are the Dacia Sandero, the VW Passat and (again) the Citroën DS3.

Only just managing to stay out of the top 5 was the Jaguar XF with a 19.5% failure rate, which shows even the high-end luxury marques are just as capable of dropping the ball.

The big winners in new car MOT testing

Hardly surprising, the ten best performers with the lowest failure rates were dictated by the German ‘Big 3’; Audi, Volkswagen and Mercedes-Benz, alongside Japanese giants Honda, who took the number one spot with their Jazz model (only a 6% failure rate).

Well played also to the Vauxhall Viva for landing the number 2 position with a mere 6.6% failure rate.

What does this mean for UK motorists?

The biggest imposition to our road-users will be the additional costs of getting our cars through the stricter testing.

On the plus side, it will mean that the cars on our roads will hopefully be in better condition. That means they’ll be safer and less dangerous for drivers, passengers and other road users alike.

Green Flag suggested that with such checks in place, it could save motorists more money in the long-term. It means being able to spot and rectify problems at an early point in the vehicle’s life and avoiding more serious problems and vehicle failures!

However you look at the figures, it’s probably a good idea to put a little extra money to one side for your own MOT this year.

You’re more likely than ever to be caught out and added to that ever-increasing fail list.