Common MOT fails and how to avoid them

Causes of MOT failure for your commercial vehicle

Taking a van in for its MOT is arguably more nerve-wracking than taking in a car. Not only do you have to budget for the test itself and any repairs that may need doing, you also have to account for the fact that the vehicle is off the road, which inevitably impacts productivity. It’s in the interests of your business, then, to do everything you can to ensure the van passes its MOT. To help you prepare, here are some common issues that cause failure and some advice on how to avoid them.


Suspension related issues comprise some 13% of MOT failures in the UK. This is partly because spotting a problem with this aspect of your van is notoriously difficult. You can, however, listen out for strange noises in the run up to your van MOT and take care when tackling speed humps or uneven road surfaces. If there is anything untoward, visit your local garage for an inspection before the test.

Lights and signals

It seems like an obvious one, but for almost a fifth of vehicles, MOT failure occurs because the lights and indicators aren’t all in fully working order. Replacing a bulb is simple and inexpensive, so before the test, get a colleague to help you check the head, tail, brake and indicator lights to ensure they illuminate as expected. You can also give the casing a quick wipe and ensure it’s not cracked as this can put you at a disadvantage too.


Luckily faults related to your brakes are fairly easy to spot, so they can be fixed prior to your commercial vehicle MOT. Grinding or screeching signals that the pads are wearing thin, while if your van veers to one side as you brake, it could mean a malfunctioning caliper. Be sure to check the handbrake before the test too – stop on an incline and apply the handbrake to ensure it holds your vehicle still.


Tyres with a tread depth below the legal limit of 1.6mm are the fourth largest cause of MOT failure. Ensure the central third of each of your van tyres meets the depth requirements by inserting a 20p coin into the tread – if you can see the outer band, it’s too low and the tyre needs replacing. Also check for cuts, bulges and uneven wear before the test.

Other considerations

Simple things like damaged wiper blades, an inadequate screen wash level, or a dirty registration plate can lead to a failed MOT. Give your van a quick wash and visual inspection a week or so before the test so that you have time to get any issues you find looked at.

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