If not properly cared for, faulty or worn out brakes can put you in danger whilst driving, and lead to the need for expensive repairs.  

As one of the most used components in any vehicle, it is no surprise that your brake pads will experience wear and tear over time, but can you fail your MOT due to worn out brakes? 

Read on and find out which brake problems can result in MOT failure, and why your vehicle might fail its MOT due to worn out brake pads.  


Will My Car Fail Its MOT Due to Worn Brake Pads?

During an MOT test, your car’s brake pads and discs will be checked, and worn brake pads are one of the most common causes of MOT failure

When the lining wears away on your brake pads, this will have a negative impact on braking efficiency. That being said, you will only fail your MOT test because of the brake pads if they are worn below 1.5mm 

If your brake pads are approaching this legal limit, then you may receive an advisory warning instead to have them replaced as soon as possible. This will likely be the case if your brake pads are below 3mm. 

Your brake pads should last approximately 50,000 miles with proper care, but this can vary depending on your driving style and the number of passengers you tend to transport.  


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Front Brakes (Pads)


How Are My Brakes Tested During an MOT?

An MOT tester will inspect your braking system to determine the efficiency and physical condition of the braking components.

The tester will check a range of braking components which are located under the bonnet, inside or underneath the vehicle.  

The MOT tester will check the condition of the following: 

The MOT tester will carry out a visual inspection of the brake pads, looking for any wear and tear.

The function of the ABS warning light and its sequence of operation will be checked during the MOT test. The footbrake can lead to MOT failure if it touches the floor, the brake pedal rubber or brake pedal pivot are excessively worn out, or if the servo assistance system is not working properly.  

The brake pedal will fail the MOT if the grooves or raised grip sections on the pedal are worn smooth. However, this will not be classed as a fail if the vehicle was manufactured with a brake pedal which does not have grooves or anti-slip material.  

Some vehicles have a dashboard warning light which can signal when the brake pads are wearing out - the same light can sometimes light up when the handbrake is applied.

The MOT tester will automatically fail your vehicle if this light is illuminated, and you will have to replace your brake pads so that the car can pass on a retest 


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Front Brakes (Pads)


Which Brake Problems Can Result in MOT Failure?

There are a number of common brake problems which can result in MOT failure. 


Brake Juddering

You may notice juddering when you apply your brakes. This can be caused by the brake pads pressing unevenly on the brake discs. It could also occur if you leave your car parked for days or weeks at a time.  

If there is any residue on the brakes caused by hard stopping - or if the discs have warped from keeping your foot on the brake whilst in traffic - then this can also cause this juddering sensation.

If the brake discs have warped, this will result in MOT failure.  


Brake Pedal Problems

As previously stated, if the grooves or raised grip sections of the brake pedal are worn smooth, this will lead to MOT failure, unless the vehicle was manufactured with a brake pedal which does not have grooves or anti-slip material.  


Contaminated Brake Pads or Linings

When the brake pad lining wears away, this can cause damage to the brake discs, as the metal from the pads can hurt the brake discs and cause them to wear out faster.

If your brake pads or linings are missing, incorrectly mounted or contaminated, then this could lead to a fail. 


Contaminated or Leaking Brake Fluid

Brake fluid contamination is classed as a defect, and your vehicle will fail its MOT if it is clearly visible that the brake fluid is contaminated. If your brake fluid is leaking, this will be classed as a dangerous fault and will fail your car’s MOT.  

Some minor defects include the brake fluid being below the minimum level, or the brake fluid warning light being illuminated. Whilst these might not lead to a failure right away, you will be advised to have these issues resolved as soon as possible. 


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Brake Fluid Replacement


Damaged or Worn Brake Discs

A brake disc which wears out below the minimum thickness will be classed as a major fault, leading to an MOT fail. Similarly, a loose brake disc will be seen as a dangerous defect, meaning you cannot drive the vehicle until the defect is repaired.  


Defective ABS Warning Light

If your ABS warning light stays on permanently, this can result in an automatic MOT fail. As the majority of issues with the anti-lock braking system will make it dangerous to try and stop your vehicle in an emergency, it is important that the ABS warning light works properly.

You will need to have the warning light repaired before having your vehicle retested.  


Faulty Handbrake

The handbrake (parking brake) could be hand, foot or electronically operated. During the MOT test, the handbrake lever’s mounting will be inspected for corrosion and security.

On electronic systems, an illuminated parking brake warning light can cause MOT failure.  


How Do I Look After My Brakes Ahead of an MOT Test?

To give your brake pads the best chance of passing the MOT test, you should replace them when they are less than a quarter of an inch in thickness.

You should also check your brake fluid level ahead of an upcoming MOT test, to reduce the likelihood of your brakes failing the test. The brake fluid should sit between the minimum and maximum marks under the bonnet.  

Be aware of warning signs that suggest your brakes need to be replaced, such as the car pulling to the side, the steering wheel vibrating, or the handbrake sticking.  


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Front Brakes (Pads)


If your current MOT is due to expire, be sure to book an MOT test near you at your earliest convenience. You can even carry out a pre-MOT check on your vehicle if you are at all concerned about your brakes or other related components. 


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We hope that you have enjoyed learning about the brakes problems which can lead to MOT failure.

If you would like to learn more about brakes, why not find out how different types of car braking systems work?