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17 Feb 2010

Last week’s release of MOT failure rate figures have caused something of a stir in the motoring world.

After an extended wrangle with the BBC, the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA), part of the Department for Transport, has published 1,200 pages of detailed information on the track record of different vehicle makes. The figures reveal significant differences between vehicle models, regardless of their age.

The publication, the first time such material has been published, follows a Freedom of Information request first made by the BBC in July 2008. According to a BBC report, VOSA had resisted the request, claiming that the information would be misleading and a breach of commercial confidentiality but their objections were overruled by the Information Commissioner.

The figures did not make happy reading for Ford. Amongst three-year-old vehicles – those manufactured in 2004 – the three models with the highest MOT failure rate were the Ford Transit Connect (30.5 per cent); the Renault Megane (28.1 per cent); and the Ford Transit (26.3 per cent). By contrast, three year-old Toyota Corollas have a MOT failure rate of just 11.2 per cent.

But the data has been branded potentially misleading by car price experts CAP.

The organisation claims the raw data unfairly brands some car makes and models as unreliable or even potentially unsafe by including problems which the manufacturer may have no control over, such as a dead light bulb or worn-out wiper blade.

CAP’s Mark Norman said: “The problem with this story is that it implies the higher the failure rate the worse the car. We all know that an MOT is nothing to do with reliability. For instance, the most common overall reason for failure is lighting and signalling. But nobody could blame a manufacturer for a blown bulb or misaligned headlight.”

It is certainly true that a workhouse Ford Transit is likely to be driven harder and longer than a family staple like the Toyota Corolla. But that doesn’t, of course, mean we cannot bear the data in mind the next time we venture into a showroom or invest in our fleets.

For the full list of figures, see here:


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