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The MoT Files: FAQs

Published 11 May 2012

Where is this data from?

This data is provided by VOSA, the Government agency responsible for MoTs, via the Government's OpenData scheme.

What years does it cover?

It is for MoTs conducted from October 2010-September 2011, the most up-to-date information that we have from the Government.

Why doesn't it include MoT data from 2012?

The data has not yet been released for cars that had an MoT in 2011. As soon as it is, we will update the MoT data.

Why isn't my car listed?

It's either too new, too old or there wern't at least 50 tests for that model conducted. We set a threshold of 50 tests to ensure that the results were as useful as possible.

Did the data contain many mistakes?

Yes. With 355 million records and 40GB of data, there always will be. There were steam-powered Renault Clios and plenty of cars registered in the 1800s. Make sure you check what's on your MoT certificate before you leave the testing station.

Does this tell me how reliable my car is?

This data will tell you what your car is likely to fail its MoT on. Some of these are common problems, but it shouldn't be used as a guide to overall reliability. It will only highlight items that are tested in an MoT.

Are these all manufacturer faults?

Some are manufacturer faults, others are down to the owner and some are a combination of both. Items like obstructing the driver's view are usually solely down to the owner.

Haven't these results been released somewhere else before?

Not in this format. However, following a long battle with VOSA to release the figures under the Freedom of Information Act, the BBC was given very limited data on MoT pass and failure rates back in January 2010 (you can see the spreadsheet here). It didn't include detailed reasons for failure and wasn't up-to-date. What we have done is different, we have worked from source data and seen the actual MoTs (in electronic format). The full story on the MoT data being made available to the public is here.

Do these statistics include tests from Northern Ireland?

No. VOSA covers England, Scotland and Wales, but not Northern Ireland.

Why aren't there any cars from before 1980?

To keep the data as useful as possible, a model must have at least 50 tests for each registration year. 1980 is the year when this data ends.

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