Government figures have revealed tyre defects account for over a quarter (27%) of all car MOT failures.

The data requested by TyreSafe from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) reveals nearly 2.2 million cars failed the MoT in 2016 as a result of dangerous or illegal tyres*. These latest figures mean tyre defects remain the second most common reason for an MoT failure after lighting.

Of those, 106,000 failures were cars taking their first MoT, currently required when it reaches three years of age**. That equates to a 5% failure rate due to tyre defects for all cars taking their first MoT.  

In combination with TyreSafe’s own findings that more than one-in-four tyres are already illegal when they are replaced***, the overwhelming conclusion is that far too many of Britain’s motorists are not carrying out routine tyre maintenance checks between MoTs, leaving themselves and other road users at an increased risk of an incident on the roads.

The findings are set against the background of the government’s consultation to evaluate extending the requirement for a car to be submitted for its first MOT after four years rather than the current three, known as the ‘grace period’. The government argues that this could be considered as the existing three-year gap was implemented when vehicles were not as reliable as they are today. The consultation is open for comments until 16th April 2017 at 11.45pm. However, TyreSafe is reminding motorists and government alike that tyres’ tread depth can easily be worn to below legal limits in three years and being in contact with the physical road environment they are vulnerable to damage at any time. 

Drivers can reduce the risk of driving with defective tyres and facing a potential fine of up to £2500 and three-penalty points (per tyre) by carrying out routine checks, yet the evidence proves they do not. Evidence also implies a substantial proportion of tyres continue to be used despite being unsafe and only replaced when the owner has no choice, for example following an MoT failure.

Stuart Jackson, TyreSafe chairman, said: “The existing MoT failure rates are unacceptable as they are and, based on current evidence, it’s reasonable to suggest any extension would only result in more defective tyres on Britain’s roads. Many of the government’s own departments, agencies, and associate companies, along with road safety stakeholders, are working tirelessly to make our roads ever safer and reduce the number of incidents.

TyreSafe believes increasing the grace period for cars’ first MoT to four years would counteract those efforts and would urge those involved in the consultation to reject this proposal purely on the grounds of safety.

“However, regardless of legislation, drivers individually need to take their responsibilities to road safety seriously and carry out routine checks to stay tyre safe out on the roads. Remember ACT: check tyres’ Air pressure, Condition and Tread depth at least once a month and before long journeys.”

For more information on all aspects of tyre safety, visit

*Source: Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency. MoT failures data 2016

** Except taxis which are required to take the MoT annually after their first year of registration

***Source: Tyre tread depth survey at the point of replacement in partnership with Highways England, July 2016

This article was posted on 4th April 2017 by