Why do 1 in 4 vans fail their first MOT?

It might surprise you to learn that around 25 percent of vans fail their MOT on the first time around. The MOT is first required when the vehicle reaches three years old, and is carried out annually after that. MOT data from as recently as 2017 indicated that while approximately 250,000 vans received their first test that year, 61,000 were found to have flaws, many of which were potentially quite dangerous. Before you look for cheap van deals, it’s worth knowing the full story, and what the causes are.

Why do vans tend to fail their three-year test?

Today, there are more vans on the road than ever before. The push towards online shopping while skipping the high street has meant that there are now four million vans moving goods between warehouses and driving parcels around the UK.

The simple fact with vans developing serious issues by their first three-year MOT test is that they are driven much more in a given year than the average vehicle. A business van that is fully utilised is on the road several hours per weekday and some are continually being used for 8+ hours daily. The average van has been driven 47,000 miles by the time it’s just three year’s old.

By contrast, the average car is driven an hour to and from work, in addition to personal use during the evening and weekends. All told, only 26,000 miles have been covered in the typical car when it’s hit the three-year MOT. As a result, only 14 percent fail the test vs 25 percent of vans.

First most common failure: lights and signalling

The lights on a van are an essential piece of equipment. Even with LED headlights, they’re still fairly fragile. It’s easy for a bumpy road to dislodge some wiring connecting the lights, which can cause them to stop working properly, or become intermittently working and unreliable.

The signalling indicator lights are also important for road safety because they tell other drivers, riders, cyclists and pedestrians crossing the road what your intentions are. When they don’t work as expected, you might not realise it and other people don’t realise that you’re planning to turn either.

Second most common failure: brakes


The effectiveness of the brakes is paramount. When brakes are badly performing and overheating, they aren’t as efficient, and most importantly, the time it takes to reach a full stop is considerably extended. This usually results in an accident because when you don’t realise the brakes aren’t performing well, you don’t brake earlier enough to compensate for it.

Tyres are also a secondary consideration relating to the braking system. If one or more tyres are bald, even a great braking system won’t get you to a full stop as quickly as they might otherwise.

Third most common failure: suspension

The third most common failure is due to suspension difficulties. This is not that surprising with vans because they’re expected to carry unusual loads, which aren’t always balanced across the vehicle. This can lead to early issues with the suspension that took the brunt of the punishment along with the wheel alignment too.

We recently explored several more common MOT fails in our previous post, so it’s worth being on the lookout for those, too. However, if you decide you need a new van entirely, you’re in exactly the right place. Here at Van Discount we stock a fantastic range of the best van deals, including those from several leading manufacturers including Ford and Mercedes. If you’re after your next vehicle, don’t hesitate to give us a call on 01282 872 530 if you have any questions or need any advice!