Top 10 reasons for failing your MoT

Government figures on what falls foul of the MoT tester. This is your MOT checklist

FOR most of us (other than those with bikes under 3 years old) it’s an annual chore that leads to chewed nails.

However meticulously you maintain your bike there’s always that nagging concern that the stony-faced MoT man will find something – usually something expensive – to fail you on.

Actually, bikes do pretty well in MoTs as a whole, with a better pass rate than cars, thanks largely to the fact they tend to be owned by enthusiasts and their relative simplicity means faults are easier to spot and sort prior to the moment of truth at the test station.

The current cost of a motorcycle MoT in 2013 is £29.65 and all motorcycles over 3 years old have to have an annual MoT check. Click here for our motorcycle MoT checklist.

Happily for a “top ten”, the government breaks the MoT down into ten neat categories, so here they are – starting with the least likely failure point and counting down to the number one reason for MoT anguish…

10: Sidecar – 0.007% of bikes fail

No surprise that sidecars are the least-likely reason to have your MoT denied. When was the last time you saw one on the road?

In fact it’s surprising that as many as 0.009% of bikes are even fitted with a sidecar, let alone that percentage should fail. Specific reasons for sidecar MoT failure could be that it’s not bolted on firmly, a dodgy wheel bearing or poor wheel alignment.

9: Driving controls – 0.45% of bikes fail

The real bottom-of-the-list failure for bikes is “driving controls” – a vague category that’s generally covered by other bits. For instance, if your brake lever isn’t held on properly, it could just as easily fail under “brakes” as “driving controls. Which probably explains why fewer than half a percent of bikes fail on this category.

8: Body and structure – 0.95% of bikes fail

Not many bikes fail here, either. While cars might well fail on ‘structure’ if they’re terminally rusty, your bike will only fall foul if the frame is horribly corroded, cracked, twisted or damaged enough to affect the way the bike rides, steers or stops. Stuff like loose footrests might cause a fail on this front, though, so it’s still worth making those pre-MoT checks.

7: Fuel and exhaust – 1.31% of bikes fail

Failures here are most likely to come down to leaks of one sort or another – a leaky exhaust will lead to a fail, and a leaking fuel system is worse still. If you try to get through the test with that clearly-marked “not for road use” end can you can be pretty sure of a fail on the “fuel and exhaust” category, too. Interestingly, the number of fails for fuel and exhaust have been falling over the last few years.

6: Reg plates and VIN – 1.36% of bikes fail

Pretty straightforward, this one – if you try to get a ticket with an illegal numberplate, you’re in for disappointment and your bike is set to become part of the 1.36% that fail on “plates and VIN”. A VIN failure is more ominous, suggesting there might be something awry with the bike’s identity, at which stage the fact it’s failed the MoT is probably the least of your worries.

5: Drive system – 1.41% of bikes fail

Most of the failures here are likely to be thanks to overly-loose or worn chains or worn-out sprockets. A dodgy clutch or throttle lever or linkage might also get you nailed for a dodgy ‘drive system’, although depending on the way the tester notes it, it might be classed as a “driving control”.

4: Tyres and wheels – 3.65% of bikes fail

Now we’re getting up there with the significant reasons for losing out on that fresh MoT ticket. Wheels might not be too big a problem (you’ll only fail if they’re corroded, fractured, have loose or missing spokes, are buckled or insecurely attached) but tyres are a minefield. Not only could you fail for too little tread, but also for having the wrong type of tyre (wrong speed rating for the bike), a cut, lump, bulge or tear in the rubber, an incorrectly seated tyre or rubber that’s, erm, rubbing on another component. So surprise, then, that more than 3 percent of bikes fail on this class of problem.

3: Steering and suspension – 4.81% of bikes fail

Probably the single widest category, pretty much everything on a bike that isn’t to do with the engine is likely to have an impact on the steering or suspension.

Likely failures here could be to do with worn wheel bearings, leaking dampers, bad wheel alignment, cracked springs, worn head bearings or any one of a host of other moving parts that either move too freely or not freely enough.

2: Brakes – 5.14% of bikes fail

In at number two, brakes. Whether it’s simply worn out pads, overall poor performance or something more worrying (cracked discs for instance), more than five percent of bikes submitted for the test fail on brakes. Not good. Get em sorted…

1: Lighting and signalling – 10.95% of bikes fail

Of all the things to fail an MoT on, a dodgy bulb or misaligned headlight has got to be one of the most frustrating. A few simple checks should ensure you never fail on ‘lighting and signalling’ and yet, year after year, it remains the runaway number one reason for being denied a ticket. Sure, the fix will usually be quick and cheap, but that fact nearly 11 percent of bikes make it to the MoT station with something wrong on the lights-and-signals front suggests plenty of people aren’t doing many pre-MoT checks. The Government loves you all and will, no doubt, be putting your retest fees to good use.