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More than one million cars failed MOT tests last year because of defects considered so dangerous under the new MOT rules that they pose an ‘immediate risk to road safety and/or serious impact on the environment’.

The worrying finding was revealed by an analysis of DVSA data on MOT tests following a Freedom of Information request by the motoring website, motorway.co.uk, in November 2018.

The data revealed that since 20 May, 2018, when the new MOT rules came into force, 1,131,376 cars failed because of dangerous defects. In October alone, almost 9% of cars failed because of a dangerous defect. On average since May, MOT testers failed almost 32% of cars because of a dangerous fault.

The new MOT rules categorise defects as either dangerous, major or minor.A vehicle will fail if it has a dangerous or major fault. With the old MOT, a vehicle either passed, passed with advisory faults, or failed.

According to the DVSA website, a dangerous defect “has a direct and immediate risk to road safety or has a serious impact on the environment, and the vehicle cannot be driven again until the defect has been repaired.”Examples include:

  • Leaking hydraulic fluid – leaks from a brake value such that brake functionality is affected
  • Brake problems – brake disc or drum missing and/or the brake lining or pad is missing or incorrectly mounted
  • Dangerous wheels – a wheel with more than one loose or missing wheel nut, bolt or stud or the wheel is distorted or worn to the extent it is likely to become detached.

A vehicle will be recorded as “no longer road legal” if it fails due to a dangerous fault – and could incur three penalty points, a £2,500 fine or even a driving ban if driven.If a car fails because of a major defect, the repair needs to be made as soon as possible, although the car may be driven if it is still roadworthy and the MOT is valid.

“Looking at this data from the DVSA, we were really surprised by the high number of cars registered to drive on UK roads that are considered ‘dangerous’ – and these are just the vehicles that have been tested since the new rules came into play in May 2018”, said motorway.co.uk’s director Alex Buttle.

“New car sales are currently falling, but the number of licensed cars on the road is remaining comparatively stable at around 38 million. This suggests owners are hanging onto cars for longer – and because of that, the UK’s used car stock will get older year on year unless that trend is reversed. That means more cars requiring frequent safety checks.”