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Common MOT failures and how to prevent them

23 Feb 2024

An MOT test is a legal obligation that requires our vehicles to be tested annually to certify that they meet the minimum road safety and environmental standards. There are a number of common things that can cause a car to fail its MOT test, and many of them are preventable.

Here are some of the most frequent causes of an MOT test failure and how you can avoid them.

Lighting and signalling

Almost a fifth of all cars fail their MOT test due to lighting issues. The most common problems include blown lightbulbs or malfunctioning indicators, although dirty headlight lenses can also lead to an MOT failure.

To avoid this, check all of your lights on a regular basis, including your brake lights, number plate lights, side lights, and indicator lights. Ensure all plastic lenses are kept clear and smear-free to ensure maximum visibility.


More than one in 10 MOT failures are caused by suspension issues. These problems are often hidden, but they can significantly affect safety.

Listen for unusual noises when you’re driving, particularly when cornering or on bumpy roads. Make sure your car sits level and doesn’t bounce excessively if you push down on the bonnet. Be mindful of how your car feels when you drive it, and get it checked out if you notice a significant difference. Finally, try and avoid potholes!


Brake system faults are absolutely crucial to address, as they are one of the most important safety features on your car. Listen out for squealing or grinding noises, as they can indicate worn brake pads.

Regularly inspect your brake discs and pads and ensure your car stops in a straight line without pulling to one side. Keeping on top of this can not only save your life, it can save your bank balance too!


Tyres are one of the easiest things to maintain on a car, but they’re also a common reason for MOT failures. Good tyre condition and accurate air pressure are essential to both your safety and car maintenance.

Check your tyre tread depth – it must be above 1.6mm across the centre three-quarters of the tyre – and ensure your tyres are inflated to the recommended PSI for your vehicle.

Issues affecting driver’s visibility

One of the most important aspect of driving is the ability to see where you are going. If your vision is impaired or compromised, you are unable to drive safely. Faults relating to mirrors, wipers, and washers can cause MOT failures, so it’s important to stay on top of it.

Ensure clear visibility by maintaining a clean windscreen and mirrors, and make sure your wipers are free from any damage.

Passing the MOT test means your car is kept roadworthy, safe, and legal, so regular checks and maintenance on your vehicle are crucial.

Is your MOT due? Check out what services our Tangelo Auto Centre offer for all car care servicing in Exeter.

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