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What does it mean if my MINI fails its MOT test?

The blue MOT logo on a white background

Ah, the dreaded MOT test - the moment of truth for your beloved BMW Mini! If your Mini fails its MOT, it basically means it didn't meet the legal standards of roadworthiness at the time of the test.

It could be due to various reasons, ranging from something as minor as a busted light bulb to more significant issues like brake or suspension problems.

Here's a handy breakdown of potential reasons for a failed MOT:

Lighting and Signalling: Faulty headlights, indicators, brake lights, or reversing lights can be common culprits - these aren't generally too expensive to get sorted though assuming it is just a bulb. If you need to replace the unit, fitting a good condition second hand part might be the cheapest option as most units may only be available new from MINI.

Brakes: Issues with brake pads, discs, or brake fluid levels can lead to a fail. Perhaps the brakes pads have worn down to the minimum thickness, the discs could be scored or pitted so no longer nice and smooth. MOT failures because of brake issues are common, but any good garages will offer their customers health checks through out the year so that you can keep an eye on the amount of wear developing.

Suspension: Damaged or worn-out suspension components can cause a fail. Sometimes customers can feel or hear a knocking noise in advance of MOT test but, if you are not too 'car confident', you may not notice - a good garage should show you how the part has failed so that you can be more aware in the future.

Emissions: Excessive emissions from your Mini's exhaust could be a problem. You may not always see a lot of smoke billowing out the back, sometimes fails can be caused with leaks and gaps in the system. Equally, if you do not run the "from-factory" catalytic converter (CAT) the emissions are not regulated to the standards that DVSA give for your car to be able to pass the MOT.

Tyres: Tread depth below the legal limit or damage to the tyres can result in a fail. Most of the time you can see this yourself, but if the wheel alignment is out, you may be wearing the inner edge to a dangerously low level without realising.

Steering: Issues with the steering mechanism, such as excessive play, can lead to failure. These aren't terribly common, but not terribly cheap either so it is always good to get things checked whenever you are concerned to limit any damage from escalating.

A vehicle technician checking the oil level with a dipstick

But don't worry! Failing the MOT isn't the end of the road. Once you know what needs fixing, you can get those issues sorted. You will be given 10 working days for a free MOT retest and you can go back to driving your MINI with confidence!🚗💨

👩🧔‍♂️ Mod A Mini is run by husband and wife team, Jon and Miriam with a crazy obsession for BMW Minis!

☆ Over 6 years experience running @mod_a_mini

☆ Over 20 years of modifying our own cars

☆ Over 4 years experience running @torquemonkeyuk

☆ Our Head Tech has over 16 years experience working on cars and trucks


Whenever you are ready, here are two ways you can make more reliable (but fun!) maintenance choices and modification decisions with direct access to our team of MINI Experts:

  1. Check out our Resource Page - updated weekly with answers to the most frequently asked questions by people just like you! One of our most valuable pages on the whole of the Mod A Mini website.

  2. Request a FREE no-obligation 20 minute Zoom call to discuss any product questions or big build plans with Jon and Miriam. These are booked at a time to suit you best - whether that is in the morning or in the evening!

Miriam English, author signature strip with contact details

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Eddy Smith
Eddy Smith
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