Page last updated at 16:03 GMT, Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Ford leads in MOT failures as figures are revealed

Mechanic works on a car in a garage
The MOT failure rates were published after pressure from the BBC

MOT failure rates for cars and small vans have been published for the first time following a Freedom of Information (FoI) request by the BBC.

For popular vehicles first used in 2004, Ford Transit Connect had the highest failure rate at 30.5%, followed by the Renault Megane and Ford Transit.

The Toyota Corolla had the lowest failure rate with just 11.2%.

The Vehicle and Operator Services Agency had resisted publishing the data, saying it might be misleading.

The MOT is the annual test of roadworthiness that all cars and vans must pass once they are three years old.

The data relates to MOT tests carried out in 2007 and is available on the VOSA website as a PDF document consisting of 1,200 pages.

VOSA had also argued that publication would breach the commercial confidentiality of the manufacturers.

But publication was ordered by the Information Commissioner in December, who said that disclosure of the information was in the public interest.

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Car and van buyers will now have access to the detailed MOT records of individual models, including reasons for failures
Martin Rosenbaum

See spreadsheet

In order to make it more digestible, Martin Rosenbaum, the BBC's FoI specialist, who pressed for the data to be made public, has converted the data into an Excel spreadsheet .

He limited the cars in his tables to the most popular models - those that have had at least 20,000 tests.

It shows pass and failure rates for cars and vans, by make, model, year of first use, and gives the general reason for each failure, such as being due to the vehicle's body and structure, brakes, the driver's view of the road, or problems with the fuel system or exhaust.

Car MOT failure rates 2007
Renault Megane 28.1
Vauxhall Corsa 24.7
Ford Mondeo 21.8
Renault Clio 21.2
Ford Ka 21
Peugeot 206 20.5
Volkswagen Golf 19.2
Vauxhall Zafira 18.9
Vauxhall Astra 18.4
Ford Focus 18
Ford Fiesta 15.6

Note: Table includes only 2004 models of the 12 most-tested cars.

VOSA has said it will publish statistics for 2008 and 2009 later this year, and then each year in the future.

There are some clear patterns here and certainly some Japanese models seem to do very well," said Mr Rosenbaum.

"We've got Hondas, Toyotas but not just those; Ford Fiestas and VW Polos - there are a number of cars that seem to do well."

The Renault Megane had a failure rate of 28.1% while the Ford Transit experienced a 26.3% failure rate.

High mileage vehicles

The crucial information that is not available is the mileage of the car, or an assessment of how well it has been looked after by the owner, both of which will have a direct bearing on a vehicle's condition and its ability to pass an MOT test.

John Ball of the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), which represents garages, MOT testing stations and dealerships, said he was not surprised that two types of van featured among the top three failure rates.

"It's because of the high mileage they do and because many of the owners do not stick to the service regime," he said.

"They are reluctant to take them off the road if they rely on them for their living."

Mr Ball said his members often saw vans from courier companies that had recorded well over 100,000 miles within their first three years.

The RMI said there was a case for vans to have an MOT test after one year, not three, just like minibuses, taxis and ambulances.

"They are just not maintained properly - the biggest defects are with lights and brakes and lots of people are now cutting back on their servicing because of the recession," Mr Ball said.

A number of Vauxhall cars appear toward the top of the list compiled by Martin Rosenbaum.

"Many of the failed items highlighted in this report, such as brakes, driver's view of the road, registration plates and tyres, are directly attributable to vehicles that have covered above average mileages," said a Vauxhall spokesman.

"Since Vauxhall was one of the largest suppliers of fleet vehicles during the period surveyed (2004-2007), and fleet vehicles typically cover higher mileages than most, it comes as no surprise that some of our cars appear in this list."


The publication of the MOT data was welcomed by John Glynn of Glass's Guide, the well-known industry guide to used car prices.

"It's an amazing collection of facts and figures," he said.

"But I'm not sure it portrays the correct position because of the high number of small items that can lead to an MOT failure."

Mr Glynn pointed out that many owners, particularly those of workhorse vans, typically combine their tests with an annual service.

The MOT takes place first, the service corrects any faults that are found, and the vehicle is then re-tested and passes the MOT later the same day.

"I'm quite surprised at some of the high failure rates, such as the Rover 420," he said.

Kieren Puffett, editor of Parker's Guide, agreed that the information was a good cross-reference to the reputation of cars' reliability.

"This shows the importance of MOTs picking up if cars have faults and problems. They provide a safety net to see if cars are up to the job," he said.

He said further details about the reasons for failures, and mileage levels, would prove useful.

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