580,000 one-to-three-year-old cars on the road with “dangerous fault”

Published:  25 May, 2021

Around 580,000 cars aged three years or less would likely fail a MOT test due to potentially dangerous faults, a new analysis of DVSA data has suggested.

The analysis by MOT and service comparison BookMyGarage.com found 13% of three-year-old cars –equivalent to 280,000 in 2021 - fail when subjected to the test for the first time. The data as retrieved through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to the DVSA.

The data showed there are 2,153,400 three-year old cars on the road registered in 2018, of which an estimated 13.1% would fail a MOT, 2,126,200 two-year old cars on the road registered in 2019, of which an estimated 9.3% would fail a MOT and 1,534,900 one-year old cars on the road registered in 2020 of which an estimated 6.8% would fail an MOT.


Taxis are often put through a MOT before they are three years old, and used car dealers often sell vehicles with 12 months MOT even if the car is only one or two years old. Throughout 2020, 21,000 one-year-old cars were sent for a MOT and 62,000 two-year-old cars were tested.

The MOT failure rate increases with the age of the car, with 40% 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. 44% of 20-year-old cars failed the test, with the slightly lower rate put down to a few models reaching classic status and being more cherished by owners as a result.

Jessica Potts, Head of Marketing at BookMyGarage.com, 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.”

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