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Stricter test criteria triggered 25% MOT fail rate, says Protyre

MOT test

New data has revealed a North-South divide in the MOT fail rate following stricter government regulations.

MOT fail rates have reached up to 25% in several key areas of the Midlands and the North of England in the seven months following the introduction of stricter MOT tests by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, according to new data from Protyre test centres.

Revealing a North-South divide, five of the top six areas for MOT failures are in the Midlands or the North of England – while five of the top six areas for MOT passes are in the South of England.

This is in stark contrast to 2017, when the North overall had the lowest MOT fail rate in England and Wales. 

It found a 12% average MOT fail rate across all regions of England and Wales in this same period (June to December 2018).

Protyre’s national retail operations manager, David Sholicar, said: “Any change in the MOT fail rate in the immediate months after the government’s MOT changes isn’t surprising given the new fault categories and stricter testing of diesel vehicles required by law. However, there are still several really easy and inexpensive things that drivers can do to help them pass.

"At the very least, I’d recommend cleaning number plates and checking the lights, replacing any lightbulbs and old wiper blades and checking tyre pressure and tread – it could be the difference between a pass or fail.”

In the seven months following the government MOT changes, around 25% of all MOTs failed in Cumbria and the Devon and Cornwall area - while at least 20% of MOTs failed in Leicestershire and Warwickshire.

Higher than the national average, around one in seven MOTs failed in Greater Manchester. Cumbria (20%) and Greater Manchester had the largest increases in MOT fails in the seven months following the new government regulations.

Top areas for MOT fails

(June to December 2018)


Cornwall & Devon











Greater Manchester area



Yorkshire (including Leeds & Sheffield)

Just above average

In contrast, Oxfordshire and Hampshire had the highest proportion of MOT passes (95% or over) followed by the Bristol and Somerset area, the Lancashire and Merseyside area, Wiltshire and Essex.

Top 7 areas for MOT passes

(June to December 2018)







Bristol & Somerset area




Lancashire & Merseyside area



Just above average



At a national level, Wales, which had the highest MOT fail rate in 2017, had one of the lowest MOT fail rates (13%) in the last six months of 2018 following the new MOT rules.

New government regulations on MOTs came into effect on May 20, 2018.

These include new defect categories, exclusion of some vehicles over 40 years old from needing an MOT and stricter regulations on emissions from diesel cars with diesel particulate filters.

Although designed to reduce emissions, it is now the law that any vehicle with a diesel particulate filter has to be failed automatically if smoke of any colour is seen from the exhaust (as this could be evidence of tampering).

In response to Protyre's observations from its MOT test centres, Neil Barlow, DVSA’s head of vehicle engineering, said: “DVSA’s priority is helping everyone keep their vehicle safe to drive”.

“The data released by Protyre does not reflect the picture based on all MOTs – it seems to be based on analysis of their own sites.

"It does not bear a strong relation to the national picture across Great Britain’s 23,000 MOT testing stations."

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