You might expect every car to sail through its first MOT test, which takes place once the vehicle hits three years old.

However, a review of recent data suggests that there are some models that have almost a one in four chance of flunking the annual assessment at the first time of asking.

Among the worst first-year performers is the best-selling new model of the last decade and the cheapest car you can buy in showrooms today, according to analysis, accurate to the end of 2019. 

Failure rate: Here's a countdown of the 20 models found to most likely flunk their first MOT test, according to records from last year

Failure rate: Here’s a countdown of the 20 models found to most likely flunk their first MOT test, according to records from last year

Motoring website and app KnowYourCar has crunched the numbers to reveal which models are most likely to fail a first MOT test.

With the initial roadworthiness assessment taking place 36 months after the car was first registered, it means all the models in the list are those that were bought new in 2016.

In May 2018 the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency introduced new assessments, rules and defect categories for the MOT test.

This includes tougher emission requirements and checks for diesel particulate filters, increased scrutiny of lights and a three-tier defect categorisation – minor, major and dangerous, the latter two resulting in an automatic fail.

Here’s a count down of which 20 cars are most likely to flunk an MOT – and the reasons why the were deemed not fit for the road. 

The data is split between petrol and diesel variants, and only models where 500 or more cars have been tested in the last year were included in the analysis. 

We’ve also included a table of the models that were found to sail through the assessment most often. 

Alignment of headlights and window wiper issues prevalent

As you will see from the list below, the two most common issues causing cars to fail an MOT is headlights not being aligned correctly and wiper blades failing to clear a windscreen adequately.

Dan Owen from KnowYourCar said it was ‘startling’ that this issue is causing such a high volume of fails. 

‘Misalignment can be caused by a number of issues, including minor collisions, faulty headlight motors and even assembly issues at the car factory,’ he explained.

‘These MOT results certainly explain why so many cars’ headlights tend to dazzle at night.’

As for the wipers, a vehicle will fail if they are missing, insecure or in such a poor condition  that they do not clear the windscreen to give the driver a clear view of the road ahead.

This is the main reason for car failing after the first year, according to the data. 

However, the records don’t group individual fail reasons together, meaning issues with lights, suspensions, brakes, tyres and wheels as a whole will be more common than visibility problems.

More than 15% of Renault Grand Scenic diesels registered in 2016 flunked the first MOT test

More than 15% of Renault Grand Scenic diesels registered in 2016 flunked the first MOT test 

20. Renault Grand Scenic (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 84.21%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 1,520

The Renault Grand Scenic is a model that’s progressively been in declining demand as the popularity of SUVs grows and sales of MPVs diminish.

That said, more than 1,500 diesel variants were registered in 2016 and underwent a first MOT test last year – and of those 15 per cent couldn’t pass.

The main cause of failures was down to poor headlight alignment, though there was a full spread of different issues that resulted in diesel Scenics not passing. 

The Micra is a popular supermini in the UK, but there's a 16% chance it will fail a first MOT test, records show

The Micra is a popular supermini in the UK, but there’s a 16% chance it will fail a first MOT test, records show

19. Nissan Micra (petrol)

First MOT pass rate: 83.99%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 11,088

The Micra is a hugely popular supermini in the UK, but the data suggests owners of the latest model might have a few headaches at the first MOT test attempt.

Some 16 per cent of petrol models tested last year for the first time failed, the record show. 

The most common failure reason was windscreen wiper issues causing 10 per cent of all those tested to receive a red cross. 

The Toyota Hilux has cast a name for itself as being one of the most durable vehicles on sale - but MOT records show it is among the worst offenders when it comes to failing first MOT tests

The Toyota Hilux has cast a name for itself as being one of the most durable vehicles on sale – but MOT records show it is among the worst offenders when it comes to failing first MOT tests

18. Toyota Hilux (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 83.92%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 5,602

The Hilux has built a reputation for being one of the most durable vehicles you can buy. Top Gear famously left one at the top of a high-rise building that was demolished, and it still ran after coming crashing down to the ground with the rubble.

But first MOT pass rates of 84 per cent the latest model suggest it isn’t as dependable as you might think.

Headlamp alignment was the common fail cause, affecting 5 per cent of cars tested for the first time.

New checks as part of the MOT from May 2018

Stricter rules for diesel car emissions

A vehicle will get a major fault if the MOT tester: 

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• can see smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust 

• finds evidence that the DPF has been tampered with

Other new checks include:

• if tyres are obviously underinflated

• if the brake fluid has been contaminated

• for fluid leaks posing an environmental risk

• brake pad warning lights and if brake pads or discs are missing

• reversing lights on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009

• headlight washers on vehicles first used from 1 September 2009 (if they have them)

• daytime running lights on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 (most of these vehicles will have their first MOT in 2021 when they’re 3 years old)

 Source: DVSA

The diesel VW Passat is a premium family saloon that has a 16% chance of failing a first MOT, the records show

The diesel VW Passat is a premium family saloon that has a 16% chance of failing a first MOT, the records show

17. Volkswagen Passat (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 83.90%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 18,978 

The Volkswagen saloon is becoming less popular as many buyers shift to SUV alternatives, but it’s still in high demand as a rep mobile. 

Almost 19,000 diesel Passats registered in 2016 were put through their first MOT test last year – and of these almost 16 per cent failed.

The most common reason for failures was because the ‘windscreen wiper does not clear the windscreen effectively’, which was attributed to 11 per cent of all 2016 Passats flunking at the first time of asking. 

SsangYong is the Korean brand that predominantly sells budget-friendly SUVs. The Korando is one of these, though it doesn't have the best first MOT test record

SsangYong is the Korean brand that predominantly sells budget-friendly SUVs. The Korando is one of these, though it doesn’t have the best first MOT test record

16. SsangYong Korando (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 83.81%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 1,254

If you’re looking for an affordable SUV, the SsanyYong Korando might be on the list given it costs from less than £20,000 new.

That said, it isn’t hugely popular, with just 1,254 diesel examples registered in 2016 that were MOT tested for the first time in 2019.

Of those, almost 16 per cent failed, with the most common reason for this being the same windscreen wiper and headlight issues troubling other models in this list.

The Citroen C4 Cactus is one of the most unique looking models on sale, but the first MOT test records aren't so kind to the quirky crossover

The Citroen C4 Cactus is one of the most unique looking models on sale, but the first MOT test records aren’t so kind to the quirky crossover

15. Citroen C4 Cactus (petrol)

First MOT pass rate: 83.17%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 1,777

The Citroen C4 Cactus has been updated since 2016, but three years ago it was one of the quirkiest looking family cars on the market – mainly due to the airbumps flanking the doors.

Some 1,777 petrol-powered examples were tested for the first time last year. Of these, nearly 17 per cent bombed in the tests.

What’s causing such a high volume of fails? ‘Headlamp aim out of alignment’ (4 per cent of all tested) and ‘windscreen wiper does not clear the windscreen effectively’ (4 per cent) again top the list.

The Vauxhall Corsa is among the best-selling cars in the UK, though MOT records show 17% fail their first test

The Vauxhall Corsa is among the best-selling cars in the UK, though MOT records show 17% fail their first test

14. Vauxhall Corsa (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 83.07%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 5,405

The vast majority of Vauxhall Corsas sold in the UK – and there’s usually a substantial amount – are petrol powered, though the brand shifted almost 5,500 variants with oil burning engines in 2016.

When it came time for these to have their first MOT test last year, only 83 per cent succeeded.

Again, windscreen wipers failing to clear a screen correctly was the main issues, affecting six per cent of all diesel Corsas scrutinised. 

The Sharan is one of many large MPVs to feature in this list. Some 13% can't pass a first MOT test

The Sharan is one of many large MPVs to feature in this list. Some 13% can’t pass a first MOT test

13. Volkswagen Touran (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 82.58%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 3,629

This list isn’t making good reading for buyers of large MPV models, with the VW Touran the latest model from the sector to feature in the rankings.

While it’s far from Volkswagen’s best-selling model, some 3,600 diesel variants were registered in 2016.

By the time it came to having a first MOT, some 13 per cent of these cars had window wipers problems that resulted in them failing the test. 

The diesel variant of Citroen's funky C4 Cactus is marginally less likely to pass a first MOT than the petrol equivalents

The diesel variant of Citroen’s funky C4 Cactus is marginally less likely to pass a first MOT than the petrol equivalents

12. Citroen C4 Cactus (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 82.49% 

Number of cars taking first MOT in 2019: 1,382

The Citroen C4 Cactus petrol has already featured in this list, and now it’s the turn of the diesel variants – of which there were fewer registered, it appears.

The same common MOT fails impacted oil burners – windscreen wipers and headlight alignment – suggesting the exhaust emission and diesel particulate filter examination wasn’t causing too much of an issue for diesel examples. 

Still, 17 per cent were black marked on their first MOT test.  

11. Citroen C4 Grand Picasso (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 82.37%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 3,188  

The C4 Grand Picasso is Citroen’s answer to a seven-seat MPV to transport large families.

Of the 3,188 diesel examples registered in 2016 and undergoing a first MOT test in 2019, just over 82 per cent passed at the first attempt.

While headlamp aim being out of alignment is the most prominent reason for failed roadworthiness assessments, second was issues with the ‘registration lamp’ that illuminates the rear number plate (3 per cent of all models tests).  

Top 10 reasons why cars of all ages fail an MOT test (DVSA) 

1. Lights and indicators: 29.5%

2. Suspension: 20.2%

3. Brakes: 17.2%

4. Tyres and wheels: 10.9%

5. Driver’s view: 8.7%

6. Fuel and exhaust: 5.4%

7. Steering: 3.0%

8. Seatbelts: 2.2%

9. Bodywork and structure: 1.9%

10. Numberplates / VIN 0.9%

The Dacia Logan isn't pretty, but it is cheap. Unfortunately, data shows that 18% fail a first MOT test

The Dacia Logan isn’t pretty, but it is cheap. Unfortunately, data shows that 18% fail a first MOT test

10. Dacia Logan (petrol)

First MOT pass rate: 81.83%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 1,288 

The first Dacia model to enter this list is the Logan, an estate version of the more popular Sandero.

Starting from a price of £8,495, it’s one of the cheapest new models on the market.

But records show that almost one in five 2016-registered petrol examples failed their first MOT test last year, mostly due to windscreen wiper and washer issues. 

The Ford Fiesta has been the best-selling new car in the UK for the last decade and longer. Diesel variants struggle to pass a first MOT test at the initial time of asking

The Ford Fiesta has been the best-selling new car in the UK for the last decade and longer. Diesel variants struggle to pass a first MOT test at the initial time of asking

9. Ford Fiesta (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 81.74%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 13,163

That’s right, the UK’s most popular new and used car for the last decade is among the models most likely to flunk a first MOT test.

Of the 13,000 diesel examples registered in 2016 – and therefore tested for the first time three years later – fewer than 82 per cent passed without issue.

Headlamps out of alignment was responsible for 5 per cent of all test models failing, though 327 cars (2 per cent) flunked due to exhaust emission problems.

The Dacia Sandero petrol is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK, with prices starting from under £7,000. MOT test data says over 18% flunk their first roadworthiness check

The Dacia Sandero petrol is the cheapest new car on sale in the UK, with prices starting from under £7,000. MOT test data says over 18% flunk their first roadworthiness check

8. Dacia Sandero (petrol)

First MOT pass rate: 81.70%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 10,070

The Sandero has a slightly worse record of failing a first MOT than the bigger Logan estate, but only marginally.

The cheapest new car on sale in the UK (starting from £6,995) has a pass rate of less than 82 per cent for petrol models.

Again, it’s the same issues causing the highest volume of failure rates – poor alignment of headlights and issues with wipers. 

While Seat doesn't sell as many diesel-powered Ibizas as it does petrols, the records suggest the oil burners are less likely to pass a first MOT

While Seat doesn’t sell as many diesel-powered Ibizas as it does petrols, the records suggest the oil burners are less likely to pass a first MOT

7. Seat Ibiza (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 81.49%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 551

The Ibiza is the Seat alternative to the VW Golf and Skoda Fabia. Petrol variants are more popular, though it does sell a decent volume of diesel models.

Of the 551 tested, almost one in five didn’t pass at the first attempt.

This was for a variety of reasons, though headlight misalignment was top, failing 5 per cent of motors. 

Dacia Logan diesels have more than an 18% fail rate when it comes to a first MOT when the cars turn 3 years old

Dacia Logan diesels have more than an 18% fail rate when it comes to a first MOT when the cars turn 3 years old

6. Dacia Logan (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 81.84%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 2,225 

Petrol variants of the Dacia Logan have already appeared in this list, but it seems the diesel is even more likely to struggle to its first MOT.

The figures show that almost one in five fail to get through the assessment at the first time of asking.

The same common issues are being recorded on oil burners. 

The Isuzu D-Max might look like a big bruising pick-up that can take on all terrains, but more than 18% can't tackle an MOT tester and their checklist of items

The Isuzu D-Max might look like a big bruising pick-up that can take on all terrains, but more than 18% can’t tackle an MOT tester and their checklist of items

5. Isuzu D-Max (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 81.46% 

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 5,221 

Another pick-up to make it into the list is the Isuzu D-Max, which has proved popular among small business owners.

Of the 5,000 or so registered in 2016, around 18 per cent didn’t pass their first MOT test.

Despite being a truck, it is susceptible to the same problems that has seen most other cars in this list fail, including headlamp aim out of alignment (4 per cent of all cars tested).

4. Fiat 500L (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 80.88%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 1,334 

When you think of a Fiat 500, most will picture the super cute – and exceptionally dinky – city car based on the 1950s original. However, the 500L is a behemoth sharing the same name.

Fiat’s answer to a practical MPV isn’t to all tastes – hence why only around 1,300 appear to have been registered in 2016.

With a first MOT-test fail rate of almost 20 per cent, its record isn’t particularly strong. Again, wiper issues are most common.

The Dacia Sandero diesel is less likely to pass a first MOT test than the petrol variants, with an average success rate of just 79%

The Dacia Sandero diesel is less likely to pass a first MOT test than the petrol variants, with an average success rate of just 79%

3. Dacia Sandero (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 79.03%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 4,854

This list really hasn’t been kind to the Sandero or Dacia as a whole. We’ve already featured the Logan estate with both petrol and diesel engines and the unleaded version of the UK’s cheapest new car – and now it’s time for the diesel.

More than one in five fail their first MOT test, the DVSA’s stats show.

Headlights out of alignment is the key reason for 12 per cent of all diesel Sanderos tested failing, while unfit wipers and failing windscreen washers was also the downfall a similar volume of examples.

The Peugeot 5008 is the modern car that's second most likely to fail a first MOT test, with a fail rate of almost 22%

The Peugeot 5008 is the modern car that’s second most likely to fail a first MOT test, with a fail rate of almost 22%

2. Peugeot 5008 (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 77.15%

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 2,696  

Yet again, an MPV has made it into the order for the models most likely to flunk a first MOT.

The 5008 is Peugeot’s big people carrier that seats up to seven people at one time. But while it might be practical, it has a relatively shabby track record when it comes to MOT tests.

Almost 23 per cent of diesel versions registered in 2016 failed the assessment at the first time of asking. Most common issues were – yet again – headlight alignments, but also failure of brake lights, impacting 11 per cent of all 5008s tested.

The SsangYong Rodius isn't easy on the eye. Also not easy for the large MPV is passing a first MOT test, with the worst fail rate of all vehicles enduring an initial assessment in 2019

The SsangYong Rodius isn’t easy on the eye. Also not easy for the large MPV is passing a first MOT test, with the worst fail rate of all vehicles enduring an initial assessment in 2019

1. SsangYong Rodius (diesel)

First MOT pass rate: 76.87% 

Number of cars taking first MOT test in 2019: 709 

Topping the charts with the highest failure rate was the diesel-powered Ssangyong Rodius MPV.

Of the 709 examples undergoing their first test last year, a worrying 23 per cent were deemed unfit for the road.

The most common reason for the Korean family car failing was windscreen wipers not being in a fit state to clear the screen, accounting for 6 per cent flunking. 

Headlights out of alignment was the next most common issue, impacting 5 per cent. 

You can check the full list of data for the best and worst cars for passing a first MOT, and the highest and lowest fail rates for the first five MOT tests using KnowYourCar’s online database

The 20 cars that are MOST likely to pass their first MOT test 

1. Porsche Boxster (petrol) – 97.46% pass rate (1,325 tested)

2. Lexus RX (hybrid) – 96.82% pass rate (2,548 tested)

3. BMW i3 (electric) – 96.78% pass rate (528 tested)

4. Bentley Continental (petrol) – 96.77% pass rate (899 tested)

5. Honda Jazz (petrol) – 96.49% pass rate (19,276 tested)

6. Audi A8 (diesel) – 96.37% pass rate (963 tested)

7. Porsche Cayman (petrol) – 96.15% pass rate (1,116 tested)

8. Infiniti Q30 (diesel) – 95.96% pass rate (1,706 tested)

9. Mini Paceman (petrol) – 95.93% pass rate (861 tested)

10. Toyota GT86 (petrol) – 95.91% pass rate (684 tested)

11. Audi A5 (petrol) – 95.88% pass rate (728 tested)

12. Kia Niro (hybrid) – 95.75% pass rate (1,270 tested)

13. Porsche Macan (petrol) – 95.73% pass rate (1,899 tested)

14. Mercedes-Benz S-Class (petrol) – 95.69% pass rate (534 tested)

15. Lexus NX (hybrid) – 95.64% pass rate (3,898 tested)

16. BMW X1 (petrol) – 95.55% pass rate (1,867 tested)

17. BMW M135 (petrol) – 95.55% pass rate (1,484 tested)

18. Mercedes-Benz GLA (petrol) – 95.45% pass rate (1,408 tested)

19. Mercedes-Benz SL (petrol) – 95.31% pass rate (789 tested)

20. Jaguar F-Type (petrol) – 95.28% pass rate (2,161 tested)

Source: KnowYourCar.co.uk using DVSA data 

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