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The cars and regions most likely to fail their MOT

Florence Codjoe Image
Written by Florence Codjoe, Content Editor - Mortgages, Finance and Car Insurance

1 December 2021

Taking your car for its MOT can be a risky experience, as if it happens to fail, then you could be hit with a hefty bill to rectify any issues and ensure that your vehicle is roadworthy once more.
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Not only is passing your MOT vital to make sure that your car is safe while you’re driving, but not having a valid MOT certificate could invalidate your car insurance too.

Plenty of cars do fail their MOT, but does this vary in different areas of the country? And are some cars more likely to fail than others?

To find out, Uswitch sent a Freedom of Information request to The Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, DVSA, revealing the parts of the UK that are most likely to pass their MOT first time, as well as the models that are most likely to do so as well.

The vehicles most likely to fail their MOT

Looking first at specific models, which are the vehicles that are most likely to let you down when it comes to passing their MOT? The majority of the vehicles with low pass rates were vans and people carriers, with Peugeot, Renault and Vauxhall all featuring heavily.

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1. Peugeot 307 S HDi 90 - 38.97% pass rate

The vehicle most likely to fail its MOT was the Peugeot 307 S HDi 90, with a meagre pass rate of just under 39%. This version of the 307 was sold between 2001 and 2007 and is a small family car. The 307 was actually awarded European Car of the Year in 2002 although its age is clearly showing now.

2. Renault Kangoo Maxi LL Plus dCi 85 - 39.04% pass rate

The Renault Kangoo MPV is available in both commercial and passenger variants and is still going strong today, but this particular version is starting to fare poorly when it comes to MOTs, with a pass rate of just over 39%.

3. Vauxhall Vivaro 2900 D/C LWB - 39.69% pass rate

The Vauxhall Vivaro is a commercial van and the 2900 is part of the second generation of vehicles, which was produced between 2014 and 2018. It had a particularly poor record with MOT tests in 2020, with just under 40% passing first-time.

The vehicles most likely to pass their MOT

When it comes to those vehicles most likely to ace their MOT, the top 50 is a real mixed bag, including high-end supercars and luxury vehicles, but also a number of taxis, motorbikes, and motorhomes too.

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1. Ferrari 575M - 97.42% pass rate

The most successful vehicle for MOT tests in 2020 was the Ferrari 575M, with 97.42% out of 155 tests being passed first-time. The 575M Maranello (to give it its full title) is a two-seat grand tourer that was produced between 2002 and 2006 and only 2,056 were made.

2. Fiat Carado - 97.35% pass rate

Not far behind the 575M is the Fiat Carado, with a pass rate of 97.35%. The Carado is a motorhome of which there were 113 MOT tests in 2020, with 110 passing.

3. Harley-Davidson FLHTC - 97.22% pass rate

The best performing motorbike when it came to MOT pass rates was the Harley-Davidson FLHTC, with 97.22% passing their MOT first-time. 

The areas most likely to fail their MOT (cars)

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Looking first at the class 4 MOT test (which is for four-wheeled vehicles with up to eight seats), here are the postcode areas with the lowest initial pass rate when it comes to MOT tests.

1. Kirkcaldy, Scotland - 60.28% pass rate

The area with the lowest first-time pass rate when it came to cars and other class 4 vehicles was Kirkcaldy, in Scotland, where just over 60% of cars passed their MOT first-time around. The town in Fife is located on Scotland’s east coast, about 12 miles north of Edinburgh.

2. Dundee, Scotland - 60.98% pass rate

Another Scottish area took second place, with just 60.98% of cars passing their MOT in Dundee. Like Kirkcaldy, Dundee is located on the east coast of Scotland and shares a very similar MOT pass rate.

3. Plymouth, South West - 61.52% pass rate

Going from one end of the UK to the other, the area with the third-lowest pass rate for car MOTs was Plymouth, in the South West of England. The port city is located in Devon and is known for its maritime history and shipbuilding, but it appears that the reliability of its cars isn’t quite so strong!

The areas most likely to pass their MOT (cars)

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1. Enfield, London - 76.69% pass rate

At the other end of the spectrum, the area with the most passes for cars was Enfield, where over three quarters (76.69%) of cars passed their initial MOT. Enfield is located in outer London, around ten miles north of the city centre.

2. East Central London - 76.25% pass rate

Another London postcode took second place for the highest percentage of MOT passes, with 76.25% of tests in East Central London being passed first-time. However, just 918 tests actually took place here in 2020, with the area itself covering a very small (albeit densely populated) section of the capital (showing the potential impact of the pandemic).

3. Slough, South East - 75.97% pass rate

The area with the third-highest rate of passes was located outside of London, although not by too much! 75.97% of MOTs in Slough were passed first-time, which is located about 20 miles west of the capital. Slough is also home to the largest industrial estate in Europe, so there are plenty of places to have your car tested too.

The areas most likely to fail their MOT (motorbikes)

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Interestingly, the pass rates for motorbikes (vehicles in class 1 & 2) seem to be higher than those in class 4, but there are still lots of locations where you’re more likely to fail a motorbike MOT.

1. Kingston upon Thames, London - 73.26% pass rate

While London was home to many of the areas with the highest pass rates for cars, it was also where we find the areas with the lowest pass rate for motorbikes, with just 72.36% of bikes doing so in Kingston upon Thames.

2. Harrogate, Yorkshire & the Humber - 76.08% pass rate

With a success rate of just over 76%, Harrogate has the second-lowest pass rate for motorbikes when it comes to MOTs. The spa town located in North Yorkshire has regularly been voted amongst the happiest places in the country to live, although perhaps not for motorcyclists!

3. Bristol, South West - 76.77% pass rate

Bristol is one of the biggest cities in the UK, but it also has one of the poorest pass rates when it comes to motorbikes taking their MOT, with just 76.77% passing first-time.

The areas most likely to pass their MOT (motorbikes) 

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1. Manchester, North West - 92.04% pass rate

Despite carrying out some of the most motorbike MOT tests in the country (10,597 in 2020), Manchester is the area that holds the highest pass rate too, at 92.04%, which is an impressive proportion given the large number of tests!

2. Motherwell, Scotland - 91.11% pass rate

While Scottish areas fared quite poorly when it came to car MOTs, a Scottish town was the second most likely to pass when it came to motorbikes, with 91.11% of motorbikes passing first-time in the North Lanarkshire town of Motherwell.

3. Slough, South East - 90.72% pass rate

As was the case when it came to cars, Slough was once again the area with the third-highest pass rate, this time for motorbikes, with 90.72% of bikes in the Berkshire town passing first-time.

When is it time to get rid of your car?

If your car is regularly failing its MOT, then it could end up costing you more in the long run to hold on to it, rather than upgrading to a newer model.

This is especially true if your car isn’t worth that much to begin with, in which case your insurance may not cover you to buy a replacement if you’re in an accident.

What’s more, most car insurance quotes won’t cover your car if it doesn’t have a valid MOT, meaning you’ll be breaking the law not once, but twice.

So, what are some of the signs that it’s time to say goodbye?

  • If your MOT reveals expensive repairs that need to be carried out, you need to weigh up the cost of carrying them out against the value of the car. Even if you get the car running again, you’re probably not going to recoup that money when you come to sell the car.

  • Even if the repairs to your car aren’t that serious or expensive, if they’re frequent, then this is still a bad sign. Repairs quickly add up and without realising you could be sinking a lot of money into the car that you’ll never see again.

  • One of the most visual signs that your car has seen better days is rust. It may seem like more of a cosmetic issue, but rusting on important components such as the fuel tank and brake lines could lead to significant issues and result in accidents.

  • As well as the signs that you can see, there’ll also be some that you can hear. We’re all familiar with the worrying noises and bangs that a car can make when it’s nearing the end of its life, and if these are becoming more frequent, then there could be a cause for concern.

  • Finally, there are some times that you just get a feeling that a car isn’t for you anymore. As you progress through life and your needs change, so does what you require from a car, whether that’s changes in your relationship or family life, or changes in your career, there simply comes a time when it’s time to change things up!

How to reduce the cost of your MOT

The cost of an MOT is capped at £54.85 for a car and £29.65 for a standard motorbike (prices for other vehicle classes vary), but that’s the tip of the iceberg if you have to take out repairs, and maintenance to ensure that the vehicle passes. Here are some tips that can help to keep those costs down.

  • Stay on top of replacing components such as the brake pads and shock absorbers. These should be replaced every few years, but are often left until after a car has failed its MOT, meaning you’re hit with a big bill all at once.

  • Drive smoothly and avoid making sudden braking and steering to reduce the level of wear on the vehicle.

  • Check your tyres and lights before your MOT. These are common points of failure and can be easy to pick up on beforehand. Check your tyre pressure and remember that you need at least 1.6 millimetres of tread on each tyre, and that all of your lights (including hazards and indicators) should be working properly.

  • Make sure you use a trustworthy garage, otherwise you could end up paying over the odds for repairs, or being convinced to carry out repairs that you don’t actually need.

  • If it turns out that you do need fairly extensive repairs, be sure to check whether you can save anything by sourcing the parts online. Doing so can often be cheaper than just going through the garage, and many will be happy to just charge you for the labour. You can also try taking the car to a different garage for a second opinion if you fail the MOT, as some of the criteria can be subjective (council-run test centres are the most likely to be objective).

Uswitch.com car insurance expert, Florence Codjoe comments:

“Our research reveals that Enfield is the area with the highest initial pass rate for cars, with over three quarters (79.69%) passing their MOT first time, whereas two Scottish cities, Kirkcaldy and Dundee were the areas with the lowest first time pass rate.

“Taking your car in for it’s MOT check can feel like a daunting task, especially if it doesn’t pass and you’re left with a heft bill to rectify any issues and ensure your vehicle is safe on the roads. 

“If your car is regularly failing its MOT, then it could end up costing you more in the long run to hold on to, and it might be time to upgrade to a newer model.”

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