Will your car pass its MOT? Government releases failure rates

If you have a car, what are the chances of it failing its MOT? Obviously wear and tear is a major factor, but are some makes and models more likely to fail than others? One body that should know is the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), the area of the Department for Transport which oversees MOTs.

Except they have, up until recently, refused to tell anyone about MOT pass rates; even after the BBC made a Freedom of Information request in the Summer of 2008, the Government body wouldn't release the information. It wasn't until last month that the information commissioner overturned VOSA's decision, meaning the data is now available.

The BBC has begun to trawl through the information (and there are 1,200 pages of it to trawl through); in this example, the list of MOT failure rates is based on stats from tests conducted in 2007 and concerns vehicles that were three years old at the time of testing:

Bitterwallet - MOT failure rates of cars new from 2004

It's not as clear-cut as it looks, however, and is hardly a shitlist for which cars will cost you more in the long term. For example, certain types of vehicle are likely to cover more mileage than others - Vauxhall are quick to point out that during the survey period, they were one of the largest suppliers of fleet vehicles to businesses and these tend to rack up higher-than-average miles. That also leads to another factor - the type of driver behind the wheel. If it's some cocksocket of a businessman who doesn't care how he drives his company car, it'll obviously be more likely to fail.

That might explain away some of the results, but why would a three-year-old Renault Megane be over twice as likely to fail an MOT than a Honda Jazz, or a Fiat Punto be 50 per cent more likely to fail than a Toyota Yaris? Doubtless other factors will affect these results but the question remains - are some manufacturers producing cars of poorer build quality than others? In time plenty of effort will be made to drill down into the numbers, which are currently only available from the VOSA website as a PDF file of 1,200 pages.

So why did the Government try to block this information becoming public?

"The release of information relating to specific make and model would be likely to be commercially damaging to vehicle manufacturers whose failure rates appear higher, and therefore less favourable, than other manufacturers...this information would be likely to be used by some manufacturers to gain a competitive advantage, for example by publicising that their failure rate is lower than another manufacturer's failure rate for a comparable vehicle model."

And there we were assuming the Government held the interests of the tax-paying public higher than those of the car industry. It's possible the information will be abused by manufacturers, but surely it's better to see the data released and analysed for the good of the consumer?

[BBC] thanks to Bitterwallet reader Kiran


  • Pete D.
    I think we all knew the Japanese/Malaysian cars are the most reliaibe anyway
  • UltimoScorpion
    The Vauxhalls in this list will be because the owners have not replaced the gas recirculation valve, costs over £200 to get replaced and without it it fails the emmisions tests, generally only lasts 60000 miles. Serves em right ha ha cheapskate chavs
  • Gunn
    Nice one I have a Honda Jazz, and bought it for its known reliability but on the other side, its more pricey to fix when it does go wrong. My main issue with MOT's is that the test centres are not independent, they are mostly supplied by garages who to be fair can't make much money from just doing MOT's, I mean it's what around £50 and it probably takes them an hour to do. All the test equipment must be a decent upfront cost so naturally they will try to get other money from you at the time of MOT, or perhaps really recommend you replace something which would normally be ok if the centre was independent. I was lucky to find an independent centre and will always use them from now on.
  • PaulH
    I see that my Suzuki Swift Sport isnt on there...Woooo go Japan!
  • Inactive
    Same old culprits at the top of the pile...
  • Businessman
    If you fail your MOT but you think you are being played by the garage then use the VOSA appeal process. Happened to me more than once got failed for daft reasons then garage hopes you will be gormless enough to pay up for unnecessary "repairs". VOSA appeals bloke bent over backwards to be fair, I didn't have to pay, garage got told off, etc.
  • Brad
    To be more fair its not always the cars that need sorting, it could be the cunts behind the wheel that cause more problems with they way they are driven.
  • Big A.
    Nice to see mine and the wifes cars at the bottom of the list. There's a garage near me that used to charge £15 for an MOT (only a couple of years back) they tried to fail the wife on a faulty headlamp, to which she promptly pulled a new one out the boot and replaced it - priceless and a pass.
  • jsoap
    The figures are meaningless, unless you knowwhat the failures are for. Many of the MOT inspection points can be covered by simple routine maintainance, such as tyres, brakes, lights, plates, seatbelts, and to some extent emissions. Steering and suspension failure rates would be interesting though.
  • goon
    90% of statistics are bullshit 75% of the time. that statement is 99% reliable
  • kungfupanda1
    I all knew the Japanese/Malaysian cars are the most reliaibe anyway. It is very wonderful.
  • autotransport
    Not surprised to see Toyota's are low on the list. And of course Ford at the top.
  • ezautoshippers
    Surprised to see some of the high failure rates on certain "luxury" cars
  • Digg G.
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