Saturday, June 25, 2022

For Fleet and Transport Professionals

DVSA data reveals 13% of three-year-old cars failed their first legally required safety check last year, the equivalent of over 280,000 cars in 2021

An estimated 580,0001 cars on the road aged three years or less would likely fail an MOT test due to potentially dangerous faults, according to

Analysis of DVSA data by the UK’s leading MOT and Service comparison site found 13% of three-year-old cars – the equivalent of 280,000 in 2021 – fail when subjected to the test for the first time.

The data, retrieved through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DVSA by, revealed a further 300,000 cars aged one and two years old would also fail the MOT test, even though they are too young to legally require it.

The figures show nearly seven per cent of one-year-old cars and nine per cent of two-year-old cars failed the test last year.

Although not required, cars can still be MOT tested before their third birthday, and this is often the case with taxis or used car dealers selling vehicles with 12 months MOT for peace of mind for the buyer.

Throughout 2020, 21,000 one-year-old cars were sent for an MOT and 62,000 two-year-old cars were tested.

As expected, the MOT failure rate increases with the age of the car, with 40 per cent of 12-year-old cars failing their MOT last year.

Cars aged 16 years old had the highest failure rate at nearly 47%, though curiously cars older than this had a marginally lower failure rate. For instance, 44% of 20-year-old cars failed the test, the slightly lower rate likely explained by a few models reaching ‘classic’ status at this age and therefore being more cherished by owners.

Jessica Potts, Head of Marketing at, commented “Many drivers assume that young vehicles will be safe to drive and immune from defects.

“However, three years is plenty of time for a car to develop a potentially dangerous fault.  It’s extremely common for tyres, brakes, suspension components, light bulbs, windscreens and other components to require replacement within this timeframe.

“It’s crucial drivers regularly inspect key components, such as tyres and lights, and maintain their car in accordance with the manufacturer’s service schedule, regardless of age, to ensure it’s always safe to drive and to avoid risking large fines and penalty points.”

The penalty for driving a car with dangerous defects can be severe. For instance, a car found with all four tyres on less than 1.6mm of tread could land the driver a fine of up to £10,000 and 12 penalty points on their license. has helped more than four million motorists obtain instant comparison prices for MOT, service and repair procedures through its network of over 9,000 franchise and independent UK garages.

Auto mechanic working on car engine in mechanics garage. Repair service.
  1. Source: (table VEH0211a)

There are currently 2,153,400 cars on the road registered in 2018 (three years old and due first MOT this year) of which an estimated 13.1% would fail an MOT, 2,126,200 cars on the road registered in 2019 (two years old) of which an estimated 9.3% would fail an MOT and 1,534,900 cars on the road registered in 2020 (one year old) of which an estimated 6.8% would fail an MOT.

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