Lights Are The Most Common Reason Your Car Will Fail its MOT

By: Motor Easy

New data from the Driving and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) have revealed that ‘lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment’ topped the poll for causing the most MOT fails over the past three years.

For tests taken between January 1, 2019, and December 31, 2021, they accounted for, on average, 13 per cent of all failed checks with either one or more dangerous or major faults. Second on the DVSA’s list of shame was suspension (9 per cent), while brakes (7 per cent) made up the top three testing terrors. But having a few dodgy lights is often remedied. However, suspension and brake issues could be more serious so having a MotorEasy extended warranty in place can cover such potentially expensive eventualities.

MotorEasy founder and CEO Duncan McClure Fisher says: "While anything that can cause your vehicle to fail its MOT is a worry, there are definitely some problems you’d rather have over others. Lights and electricals are the main culprits but they are also some of the easiest to fix. By carrying out a few regular checks, especially in the run-up to your MOT, you can avoid frustrating delays and expensive garage repair bills. Something as simple to fix as a blown bulb could scupper the chances of your car or van flying through its inspection without a hitch. But for a couple of pounds and a few minutes of your time, you could ensure this doesn’t happen.”

The DVSA data shows the total number of MOT tests carried out on Class 3 & 4 vehicles – cars and light vans up to 3,000kg – dipped in 2020 from the previous year due to the Covid pandemic. But it was up to a three-year high of just under 27.2million in 2021 as the exemptions granted during the global health crisis ran out and people returned to using their motors on a regular basis. In 2019, out of 26,152,063 MOTs carried out, 3,748,094 failed with one or more dangerous or major faults for lamps, reflectors or electrical equipment – 14.3 per cent of the market share. In 2020 – when 25,487,137 MOTs were carried out – this fell to 12.5 per cent and last year saw a further dip to 12.1 per cent.

Issues could include problems with headlights, indicators, side lights, hazard warning lights, brake and reversing lights. Interior bulbs and even the one under your number plate will also need checking before you hand your keys over at the testing station. Suspension issues are often caused by drivers hitting potholes, with recent research by MotorEasy revealing Cumbria, Hampshire and Surrey as the English counties most likely to have road craters.

Mr McClure Fisher added: “If you feel every bump in the road or experience drift when turning the steering wheel, it’s likely that your shock absorbers are on their way out and that won’t be great news when it comes to your MOT. Best to get it looked at ahead of time as it could cut the cost of repairs and, if you’ve hit a deep pothole, there could be issues with wheel alignment and your tyres that will also need sorting. If your brake pads wear to 1.5mm they need to be changed as they will have less chance of stopping the vehicle and can damage the discs if left any longer. One of the best ways to avoid warped discs is by always using the handbrake when stationary in traffic instead of using the foot brake.”

MOT Test Failures Statistics

2019: Total MOT tests: 26,152,063

Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment3,748,09414.3%
Body, chassis, structure1,107,9614.2%
Noise, emissions & leaks934,4533.6%
Seat belts & supplementary restraint systems356,2821.4%


2020: Total MOT Tests: 25,487,137

Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment3,312,35412.5%
Body, chassis. structure965,2143.8%
Noise, emissions & leaks791,4783.1%
Seat belts & supplementary restraint systems296,6521.2%


2021: Total MOT Tests: 27,178,897

Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment3,281,75912.1%
Body, chassis, structure964,5243.5%
Noise, emissions & leaks823,3573.0%
Seat belts & supplementary restraint systems308,0531.1%
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