Press release: more than one million cars have failed their MOT due to dangerous defects, since new rules were introduced in May 2018

  • Alex Buttle
  • 12th December 2018

More than one million cars registered to drive on UK roads have failed MOT tests this year because of defects considered so dangerous under new, more stringent MOT rules, that they pose an ‘immediate risk to road safety and/ or serious impact on the environment’.

This worrying finding was revealed on analysis of DVSA data on MOT tests obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request made by Motorway in November 2018.

The data reveals that since 20th May 2018 when new MOT rules came into force, 1,131,376 cars have failed their MOTs because of dangerous defects. In October, almost 9% of cars failed their MOT because of a dangerous defect. On average since May, MOT testers failed almost a third (32%) of cars because of a dangerous fault.

mot dangerous cars
MOT tests since May 2018 have seen over one million cars labelled ‘dangerous’. Much like this one

Under new MOT rules, defects are categorised as either: dangerous, major or minor, and a vehicle will fail if it has a dangerous or major fault. With the old MOT your vehicle either passed, passed with advisory faults or failed.

According to the DVSA website, a dangerous defect ‘has a direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment, and the vehicle cannot be driven again until the defect has been repaired.’

There are many things that can be considered ‘dangerous defects’. Here is a few examples:

  • Leaking hydraulic fluid – leaks from a brake value such that brake functionality is affected
  • Brake problems – brake disc or drum missing and/ or the brake lining or pad is missing or incorrectly mounted
  • Dangerous wheels – a wheel with more than one loose or missing wheel nut, bolt or stud or the wheel is distorted or worn to the extent it is likely to become detached

A vehicle will be recorded as “no longer road legal” if it fails due to a dangerous fault. If you do drive the car, you could be fined £2,500, be banned from driving and incur three points on your licence.

If a car fails because of a major defect, the repair needs to be made as soon as possible. However, the car may be driven if it is still roadworthy and the MOT is valid.

Alex Buttle, director of car buying comparison website Motorway.co.uk comments:

“Looking at this data from the DVSA, we were really surprised by the high number of cars registered to drive on UK roads that are considered ‘dangerous’. And these are just the vehicles that have been tested since the new rules came into play in May 2018.

“New car sales are currently falling at a dramatic rate, but the number of licensed cars on the road is remaining comparatively stable at around 38 million. This suggests owners are hanging onto cars for longer – and because of that, the UK’s used car stock will get older year on year unless that trend is reversed. That means more dangerous cars, requiring frequent safety checks.

“We could be heading towards becoming a ‘country of clunkers’. Only an uptick in sales of new cars will cause a higher % of older cars to start exiting our roads. Until then, highways will likely become even more full of older, more dangerous vehicles which should be getting fixed by a mechanic or headed for the scrap heap.”