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Spring MOT horror stories

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Horror stories

The long, dark days of winter are coming to an end and the flowers are starting to bloom. Yes, spring is here at last.

To celebrate, here’s another selection of the terrible MOT fails Britain’s MOT testers have found.

Some of them are truly shocking and really show why the work they do is so important.

Fantastic failure

picture of very rusty brake caliper

Have you ever seen brake discs and pads in this condition?

It’s a wonder how the owner didn’t notice that the brakes weren’t working properly. They were so bad there would have been little or no braking capacity whatsoever, which could have caused a crash.

Luckily, thanks to the hard work of the MOT tester who found it, this car was taken off the road before any damage was done.

Rock bottom result

picture of bottom arm on Morris 1000 coming apart

This bottom arm on a Morris 1000 had been ‘restored’ by a customer who then decided their car needed an MOT.

Nick’s garage failed it on an amazing 26 points, including this one! That’s a lot of failures for one vehicle, and means there was no way it should have been on the road.

Whoever had been fixing it clearly didn’t know what they were doing. Time to take it to an expert to fix it!

Bald ambition

Picture of bald tyre

Matthew sent us this picture of a tyre on a 2009 Mondeo sent to his garage for test. With nearly no tread on this 8-year-old tyre, it’s surprising it could grip the road at all in the rain or wet! And he tells us the others weren’t much better!

The law requires car tyres to have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three quarters of the tyre. Manufacturers often mould tread bars on tyres to help judge the depth.

You should make sure your tyres are safe and legal before you bring your car in for MOT. Not only will it make your vehicle more safe, it’ll save you the cost and wasted time of a failed MOT.

What a cracker!

Picture of extremely corroded hub and damper

Sam from a garage in Northampton sent us this photo of a 2005 Suzuki Alto.  When it was being inspected with its front wheels jacked up, the hub assembly and damper fell apart due to being totally corroded away.

This shows the need for regular servicing and maintenance on your car.

A big thank you

Of course, the majority of motorists do a great job of looking after their vehicles and don’t send them to the garage in the state these ones were.

A big thank you to this group of MOT testers for sending in your stories. If you’ve tested a downright dangerous rust bucket or outrageous vehicle failure, please send them to along with:

  • some large and clear photos of the defect
  • a brief description of what you found and what could have happened if the issues not been sorted out

We’ll include the very worst ones in our next MOT horror stories blog post.

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  1. Comment by D. posted on

    For DVSA,
    For the diesel cars for the future or new cars or for the old cars the emissions plate value to be added to the "MOT inspection sheet"?
    and this will sort looking for the plate value on the car on the bonnet wheel arch etc....and bad cars ...
    many thanks

  2. Comment by Dan posted on

    A tyre like one pictured above i see almost on a daily basis!

  3. Comment by richard posted on

    Special Notice Password & Security . Can you give us some idea as to what 3rd party organisations have been shared login details etc with, so we can be aware.

  4. Comment by Michael Williams posted on

    In the SN 02-2019 you state "Only fail a vehicle for missing heat shields if there's a risk of fire with other fuel system components.Only fail a vehicle for missing heat shields if there's a risk of fire with other fuel system components."
    However our local VE's have been saying that the manufacturer would not be fitting heat shields unless they needed to. So if a shield is missing it should fail ( As long as you are sure one was originally fitted).
    Also how can we know if there is a RISK of fire, is that only for heat shields around fuel tanks etc.

    • Replies to Michael Williams>

      Comment by Pete posted on

      I asked this ages ago but got no reply. Are we meant to know the thermal dynamics of every exhaust and fuel system of every vehicle now are we? This is still a very grey area if you ask me. I would say if the vehicle is not a ball of flames when it comes onto the ramp then it's not a fire risk.

    • Replies to Michael Williams>

      Comment by Graham posted on

      Just because an exhaust heat shield is missing next to a fuel tank, that dosnt mean there is a fire risk which should justify a fail in my opinion. There is only a fire risk when there is fuel leaking onto part of the exhaust were a heat shield is missing. I think the fail should be broadened to just fire risk. What about when there is an oil leak onto an exhaust, this is surely more of a fire risk, yet we have to advise this. DVSA NEED to give some examples of how bad the fire RISK is before failing. So heatshield missing next to fuel system component? Or heatshield missing next to fuel system component that is leaking onto exhaust?

  5. Comment by bert posted on

    why is it sometimes the mot certificate prints out 2 sheets of paper and on the second page it is completely blank apart from the VIN number and signature bit, what a waste of paper, does anyone else get this?

  6. Comment by Martin posted on

    We have to pass vehicles as dangerous as these and worse because of omissions in the manual.
    That along with spelling mistakes and appalling grammar in the text is not good seeing as it is a UK.GOV document.
    I have lost count of the amount of messages sent informing you of such.

  7. Comment by steve posted on

    Any chance of this years topics for the annual assessment please , some of us need to get on with things

  8. Comment by Paul posted on

    emissions from diesel cars.. why don't you let us testers enter the plate value (where present) when entering the test results

    • Replies to Paul>

      Comment by Derek posted on

      Great idea, Then when the owners take the vehicle to a different station who use the higher default setting this may eventually highlight an obvious cheat opportunity that needs investigating in my opinion.

      • Replies to Derek>

        Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

        Hi Derek

        Allowing testers to record plate values would not be deemed a reliable source for future tests.

        We’re exploring options for obtaining specific vehicle data from the various manufacturers.

        • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

          Comment by Simon R posted on

          Hi Julia, im slightly confused here, the special notice we received recently (02-19) tells us to do exactly that. Are you now saying that we should disregard any emission limits that somebody else has entered on a failure sheet when retesting a vehicle in case they have got it wrong?

          • Replies to Simon R>

            Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

            Hi Simon

            Retests should be carried out to the value recorded at the initial test as specified in the special notice.

            We will not be providing facility to record the observed value at a specific test in the future, but ways of obtaining manufacturer data direct from them are being looked at.

        • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

          Comment by Paul posted on

          reliable source?.we can input brake weights so why not emissions value?

          • Replies to Paul>

            Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

            Hi Paul
            Manufacturer data will remove the need for testers to do this, even if we considered it as an option.

  9. Comment by greg caira posted on

    I would like to see headlamp levelling as a MINOR failure rather than a major one.
    Many drivers don't use it or even know of the controls and repairs often require expensive headlamp replacements and/or body control modules.
    Surely this is unnecessarily burdensome!

    • Replies to greg caira>

      Comment by mark posted on

      totally agree this is not a danger to anybody or anything as long as the aim is correct i would like the view of the dvsa why this is a failure

      • Replies to mark>

        Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

        Hi Mark
        The Major fails in relation headlamp levelling devices are a requirement of the European Roadworthiness Directive, with which we have to comply.

    • Replies to greg caira>

      Comment by Paul posted on

      In the Blog.. What we’re doing to improve the quality of MOT testing
      12 November 2018

      Julia (DVSA) posted on 03 December 2018 (in reply to castrolrob)
      You recently posted a comment as follows: 'if a headlamp adjuster switch is removed for retest is it a pass/fail/advise what?'
      You would ‘pass and advise’.

      its the 12th comment from the bottom

      • Replies to Paul>

        Comment by richard posted on

        Thanks for that Paul, found it, things get lost in all the chatter. Perhaps its time for a dedicated FAQ where things get answered quickly & easier to find rather then waiting for a response that might or might not get answered.
        It'll be interesting to see what the failure rate is on this item as I've had 4 in the past weeks that have failed & not cheap ones either where you can replace just the adjuster motor, its been whole headlights.

    • Replies to greg caira>

      Comment by richard posted on

      also some clarification on what if one headlamp has been changed to a manually adjusted one as the motor has packed up ie screwdriver/allen key to adjust it & the other headlamp has the switch to adjust it still connected & working.

  10. Comment by Michael Williams posted on

    Brake wear indicator warning lamp has been removed as a failure.Iin a large percentage of vehicle you cannot see the brake pads. So if you cant see the pads and the warning lamp is on, I am telling the testers to issue a "Dangerous" manual advisory, advising the presenter to remove the wheels to fully inspect the pads ASAP. DEBATE!!

    • Replies to Michael Williams>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Michael

      Some manufacturers design the brake warning lamp to illuminate when there is 3 to 4mm of pad remaining. Clearly, this is significantly more than the 1.5mm requirement for MOT and a ‘dangerous’ advisory would not be appropriate.

      It is also important to make sure, in the case of multi-function brake warning lamps, the lamp isn’t illuminated due to the parking brake being applied or low brake fluid.

  11. Comment by Graham posted on

    When we log a car for test can you show us when the test is due. We only get to see when it was last tested and date of first use. Date mot is due would be helpful, if mot is overdue we can let customer know and help to make sure it dosnt happen again.

  12. Comment by 2002 posted on

    One of the training firms which is on Facebook is telling every one this years training has to be done within 4 month or your RAG score drops down one level and if you have not done it by 8 months you may drop another level again . This will on work on tester who are green to start. Is this true.

    • Replies to 2002>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi there

      The comment you make refers to the quality inspection process during a site review for garages themselves. Poor management systems for training can affect a garage’s risk rating but this has nothing to do with the testers themselves. Where testers are concerned, we always advise that they do their training and assessment in good time and not leave it to the end of the year to do.

  13. Comment by Tony . Exeter. posted on

    To DVSA.
    Your recent clarification and flow chart regarding windscreen damage is nonsense! You say "Even the smallest amount of damage can cause problems" ie smaller than 10mm and fail, or larger than 10mm and pass. Similarly damage smaller than 40mm can fail , and larger than 40mm can pass! Your flow chart should be :- Is there damage> No > Pass.

    Is there damage> Yes >Does it significantly affect your view of the road > No > Pass.

    Is there damage > Yes > Does it significantly affect your view of the road>

    Yes> Fail...….. The 10mm & 40mm are totally superfluous!!

    • Replies to Tony . Exeter.>

      Comment by Graham posted on

      You only consider if the damage is bad enough to materially affect drivers view of the road if its bigger than 10mm / 40mm. The flowchart shows this. The note below regarding small damage is reminding you that damage just over 10 / 40mm may not look bad now, but could be worse if that sun catches it etc. Personally im very lenient with windscreen, Drivers now how bad the screen is, if its causing them issues then they should replace.

  14. Comment by Graham posted on

    I recently failed a caravan on an end outline marker not working. The mot testing service dosnt say end out line marker, it just says outline marker (which we dont test), where as the manual says end outline marker. An outline marker is the orange lights down the side of a vehicle, end outline marker are the white and red ones. Can this be sorted out, as technically we shouldnt be failing these as its worded incorrect. Thanks

    • Replies to Graham>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Graham

      Just to clarify for you, outline markers are not the ones down the side as these are side marker lamps - these provide visibility from the side.

      The ‘proper’ name for the lamps in question is ‘end-outline’ marker lamps, but this has been shortened to ‘outline marker’ lamp on MTS. There is no other lamp with ‘outline’ in its name.

      I hope this helps.

      • Replies to Julia (DVSA)>

        Comment by Graham posted on

        Okay fair enough, thanks for getting back to me. It would be much easier to follow / understand if the mot manual and mts are worded the same, so may i suggest when something is shortened on mts, can it also be shortened in the manual aswell please.

  15. Comment by greg caira posted on

    The recent changes (last week) have LOST the mot expiry date from the vehicle information screen. Why is this? I found it a useful piece of info. Why does it not get included in the inspection sheet ? and why no vehicle colour on the inspection sheet?
    ...also , one of my testers uses a tablet and is complaining that you've changed layout to make it LANDSCAPE rather than PORTRAIT which he finds much more awkward to use!!

    • Replies to greg caira>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Greg

      We are looking into the items that have disappeared and will rectify as soon as we know why this has happened.

  16. Comment by bert posted on

    hi DVSA could the manual be a bit clearer on TPMS,
    The inspection of the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is for M1 vehicles first used on or after 1 January 2012.

    The TPMS warning lamp (see diagram 3) can operate in many ways depending on the vehicle type. You must only reject vehicles if it's clear that the lamp indicates a system malfunction and not simply indicating that one or more of the tyre pressures is low.

    Diagram 3. Example of a TPMS warning lamp

    Diagram 3. Example of a TPMS warning lamp
    Defect Category
    A tyre:
    load capacity or speed rating not in accordance with the minimum requirements
    load capacity insufficient for axle presented weight
    Tyres on the same axle or on twin wheels are different sizes
    Tyres on the same axle of different structure
    A tyre:
    with a cut in excess of the requirements deep enough to reach the ply or cords
    with a lump, bulge or tear caused by separation or partial failure of its structure, including any lifting of the tread rubber or with cords exposed or damaged
    Tyre tread depth not in accordance with the requirements
    A tyre fouling a part of the vehicle
    A recut tyre fitted to a vehicle not permitted to be fitted with recut tyres
    Tyre pressure monitoring system:
    malfunctioning or tyre obviously under-inflated
    obviously inoperative
    A tyre not fitted in compliance with the manufacturer’s sidewall instructions
    A tyre valve seriously damaged or misaligned likely to cause sudden deflation of the tyre
    A tyre incorrectly seated on the wheel rim

    so i'm guessing if there's a fault i.e sensors missing in wheels that's then classed as inoperative and a major? not malfunctioning which is a minor?

    • Replies to bert>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Bert

      You have guessed correctly.

      However, the requirement will be changed in the near future so that ‘malfunctioning or obviously inoperative’ will be a major defect.

  17. Comment by graham posted on

    I agree the 26 items on the Morris 1000 highlight the fact that nomatter what anyone says whether it be the government or theDVSA ALL vehicles regardless of age should be subjected to yearly testing

  18. Comment by Mr C R Evans posted on

    I bought a car in early December 2018 with an MOT that was done in October 2018 and the only advisory was a near limit tyre on near side rear, when I took the car for service in late March I had a list of possible MOT failures that needed doing during the service to make the card road worthy I had to pay as much for repairs as I did for the car,I'm sure as was the manager of the garage that did my service the garage that did the MOT must have seen these problems and ignored them on behalf of the seller of the car,would it be possible to take the matter to a legal advisor.

    • Replies to Mr C R Evans>

      Comment by bert posted on

      A MOT standard is completely different to a service standard so it would depend on the items in my opinion

    • Replies to Mr C R Evans>

      Comment by castrolrob posted on

      the appeal requirements are within 1 mnth of the initial test for mechanical defects,up to 3 mnths for corrosion related items so 5 mnths later the chances of the ministry getting involved is zero.i don't think you've got much chance of any sorta comeback to the test after that sort of period from any source.please also keep in mind that the mot is the MINIMAL standard that a car should be able to meet any day of the week and is no guarantee that it remains roadworthy for the next 12 mnths,those sorta concerns would be more properly addressed to the vendor.worn tyres that are still above the limit will still pass,worn brakes ditto and so on.whenever buying ANY vehicle get an independent inspection(even if its only a mate with some mechanical knowledge)and NEVER rely solely on an mot especially one conducted 2 mnths prior.the sad fact is that many traders do indeed get their vehicles passed to order(something the ministry is trying to stamp out)but in your case the mere fact that 5 mnths later defects are found(and without knowing what they were I can only speculate whether they fall within the realm of the test at all)but you were still able to drive the vehicle up to that point suggests the initial test result cant have been too wide of the mark.also keep in mind that advisorys aren't compulsory.i use them to a large degree,others don't.useful if youre buying,summat that traders in particular are adept at losing when selling for all the obvious reasons.

  19. Comment by chris posted on

    hi dvsa,
    Is there any info on metal number plates? I have looked in the manual and testing guide and also on gov. but cant find anything .
    Vehicle i had was a 2009 bmw. both number plates were metal, all characters were correctly spaced etc, they were reflective, and even had BS marking and postcode etc (not part of inspection)
    Any info on these type of plates would be great.

    • Replies to chris>

      Comment by Julia (DVSA) posted on

      Hi Chris

      There is no legislation covering the material used for registration plates. Therefore, metal plates should be treated the same way as any other type of plate.

  20. Comment by Chris Rayner posted on

    Excellent site like to see pics so public can why it is important for mot test thanks

  21. Comment by ackland posted on

    call that tyre bald, it still has a hint of best was a skinny temp tyre used so long it was through to the cords the whole circumference of it!

  22. Comment by Brian fleming posted on

    Took my honda crv 2007 for its mot yesterday in derby the garage went through it throughly pulling this and that tapping everything possible sat there watching worried that it might fail as only had it 5month what a relief when passed with flying colours so make sure you check everything regularly just wondering if anyone knows what percentage of the mot fee do the department of transport take from the garage

    • Replies to Brian fleming>

      Comment by bert posted on

      £2.05p per mot that passes

  23. Comment by Anthony Finn posted on

    In my career as a Full time motor mechanic I have witnessed brake pads and discs 100 times worse than what has been shown on your website
    I recall a Ford Transit with front o/s brake caliper piston being the only thing applying brake function no disc pads at all not even the metal part of pads
    I still see brake pads worn passed the metal to Razor Blade thin
    In my opinion minimum brake pad allowance should be increased

  24. Comment by Martin burns posted on

    The number of times i hear metal on metal when people apply their brakes is growing. These, are quality cars, mainly BMWs and Mercs, but also other cars.people dont care or are just pure ignorant of these things.

  25. Comment by richard posted on

    I'm going to have to post this here as you have closed the other pages to comments. why ?
    Why have you changed the layout of the failure/pass page, you've put all the needless information at the top & moved all the failure items to the bottom, I know what station is doing the test as I work here. The big Fail in red, yes is helpful but not the testing station info or my name, move all that down to the bottom ,otherwise I have to keep scrolling down to see what I've done.

  26. Comment by mark posted on

    assessment time again so much for 3 topics i can count 7 this year and one of those has 4 topics in it

  27. Comment by Christina Mackenzie posted on

    What a terrible condition to have a car on the road but even more frightening is the matter of not needing to take it back for a re test!!

  28. Comment by R.S.Hurry. posted on

    Education,not condemnation,

  29. Comment by R.S.Hurry. posted on

    Look, anything mechanical is going to fail,why be so surprised at all these findings,


  30. Comment by A Gibson posted on

    Wi is a 44 tonne truck 1mm tread for a pass . A car 1.6mm. ???? British justice and logic

    • Replies to A Gibson>

      Comment by Wee nicky posted on

      The reason hgv is 1 mm is the tyre tread is only a small thickness of the tread on the tyre and can be recut in some cases. Hgv have alot more tighter restrictions on the vehicles and by law get a inspection every 6 weeks so it like a mot

  31. Comment by A Gibson posted on


  32. Comment by Mervyn Smee posted on

    The Suzuki Alto front suspension corrosion is the second one I have seen recently, I saw one in the local town which had obviously failed on the road as it had been dragged to the side. I wonder when that MOT was due, or done!!!

  33. Comment by Robert Dey posted on

    I think it’s a great idea to publish photos of failure defects.

  34. Comment by Riccardo Pinardi posted on

    Good feed back and just reinforces the work we the not testers do ,it all about having the car safety checked to the standards set out by our governing standards.

  35. Comment by Len posted on

    Love this area, keep it coming ?

    • Replies to Len>

      Comment by Jonathan Hill posted on

      And the government has got rid of the requirement for classic vehicles to have an MOT. Ridiculous.

  36. Comment by Simon R posted on

    The pictures show that yearly MOT tests are vital as some people never have their cars serviced. We should also be thankful that the owner of the Morris 1000 decided to take his car for an MOT test even though DVSA and the government have decided that vehicles like this no longer need an MOT test!! The article tells us what a good job us testers are doing keeping dangerous cars off the road, yet the owner of this vehicle doesn't even need to bring it back for a re-test even though it failed on 26 items as I have asked this question before on here.