The recent Government announcement to extend MOT certificates for drivers by up to six months due to COVID-19 may be welcome news to motorists, but it poses a serious safety question.

Our research of Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) MOT data shows giving drivers a six-month break from their MOT test could lead to thousands of cars on the road with “dangerous defects”, putting lives unnecessarily in danger.

The MOT check at the end of the day is a roadworthiness test, and our findings show that nearly one-in-three vehicles failed their last MOT, with 9.1% featuring “dangerous defects”. Tyres were the biggest culprit, representing more than half of all dangerous defects, with brake problems accounting for 29.3%.

Overall, there are 11 defect categories, from lights to steering wheels and seat belts that can cause drivers to fail their MOT. All are important from a safety point. The below table shows the most common dangerous defects found in the latest batch of MOT test results published by the DVSA.


Analysis of Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) MOT data

(July to Sept 2019)

Defect category Overall % failed tests Overall % of defects Dangerous defects % of tests Dangerous defects % of defects
Tyres 6.8% 11.6% 5.5% 58.1%
Brakes 8.1% 16.8% 3.1% 29.3%
Suspension 9.7% 18.1% 0.6% 5.5%
Body, chassis, structure 4.3% 6.8% 0.3% 2.4%
Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment 13.9% 27.0% 0.3% 2.0%

With the public now starting to return to work and visiting relatives and friends, car journeys will increase. Our analysis of Department for Transport accident data found defective tyres were a contributing factor in 17 fatal accidents in 2018 and caused a total of 459 crashes. Faulty brakes contributed to more than 500 road accidents.


The Latest Available Department for Transport Statistics on Road Traffic Accidents (2018)

Vehicle Defects Number of Fatal Accidents Number of Serious Accidents Number of Slight Accidents Total Number of Accidents
Tyres illegal, defective or under inflated 17 116 326 459
Brakes 15 106 400 521
Suspension 7 43 150 200
Lights 3 42 94 139

Suspension and light problems – both categories tested as part of the annual MOT check – also caused more than 300 accidents in the year.


Extending your MOT test date by six months was understandable during the lockdown when people were told to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel. But now that travel restrictions are being lifted the DfT accident numbers show just how many crashes could potentially take place if drivers ignore faults in their vehicles for an extra six months.

As an example, research by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents found the stopping distance of a vehicle with tyres below the legal 1.6mm limit increased by 36.8% on hot rolled asphalt and by 44.6% on smooth concrete. These are the differences between a safe emergency stop and an accident.

Our advice is as follows: If your car needs an MOT, and you can afford to get one, we’d recommend finding a test site near you and booking an appointment. After all, it’s your safety that’s in question here.



We would also recommend doing a pre-MOT check at home before heading to a station.

All garages used by BookMyGarage will adhere to the latest Government guidelines on social distancing and personal hygiene.