Skip to main content

MOT Tyre Failure: Can You Fail An MOT Because Of Your Tyres?

Written on .

If you don't pass your MOT, tyre failure may be the root cause. Bad tyres are a dangerous safety hazard on the road, so check for these test-failing flaws.

  • Learn
  • General
  • MOT Tyre Failure: Can You Fail An MOT Because Of Your Tyres?

When taking your MOT test, you may be concerned about your windscreen, brakes, exhaust system, or other high-profile safety issues that a tester might fail you over. Few people consider how MOT failures often result from poor quality tyres.

In fact, a whopping 10% of all MOT test failures nationwide are because of faults with tyres. Such MOT tyre failures occur if your wheels are in such poor condition that they jeopardize your ability to control the vehicle on the road (which then endangers the safety of you and others).

Aged or worn-out tyres are a clear issue, but even tread depth, minor cracking, or other flaws can result in a failed MOT test. Before you schedule the appointment, make sure to examine your tyres.

What are you looking for? What needs repair now, and what will pass the test? Read on to find out:

Tyre-Related Causes Of MOT Failure

These 5 issues are the most commonly flagged by an MOT tester. To save time and the need to re-take the test, ensure your tyres aren't displaying signs of:

Worn Treads

A tyre's tread will naturally wear down over time, but it's important to replace the tyre before the tread depth reaches 1.6 mm or lower. Tread worn this low will:

  • Reduce handling on the road
  • Increase the chances of sliding in wet or icy conditions
  • Be more vulnerable to cracks, punctures, or blowouts
  • Require more stopping distance, especially on turns

All of these are safety issues, which can result in a failed MOT test. The test is evaluating your car's road worthiness, after all, and you will not be safe on the road if you lose control of your vehicle or experience a blowout at high speeds.

To ensure you're compliant with U.K. law, you can check the tread depth by placing a 20p coin inside the tyre treads (at different places across the tyre's width). If, at any point, you can see the coin's outer rim, the tyres are too thin. Luckily, shops like Autofusion are happy to replace your tyres while they conduct the MOT test directly, saving you time and money with a packaged deal.

Bad Tyre Pressure

If your tyres are inflated at the correct level, they will grip the road, be responsive to the steering wheel, accelerate at a steady pace, and wear down their tread evenly. Overall, this makes them safer and more fuel efficient. However, wheels that are over- or underinflated are both hazardous and inconvenient.

Too much air leads to uneven wear, thinning down your tyres faster. They're also less responsive to the driver and likely to blowout in a violent fashion. In contrast, too little air can lead to warped sidewalls and wheel wells, damaging the car's ability to drive overall.

Either case may receive a warning from the MOT test-giver, allowing you to correct the air pressure levels before the grade is provided. However, if the incorrect tyre pressure has already caused damage, you may need to invest in extensive repairs before passing the test.

Cuts And Bulges In The Tyre Sidewalls

Sidewalls that are brandishing cracks, bulges, or other damage will need immediate replacement. Because sidewalls are load-bearing, they cannot be repaired, and they pose a serious hazard to you and others on the road. If an MOT inspector sees this kind of damage, it'll result in an immediate fail, without exception.


A punctured tyre, depending on the depth and width of the puncture, may result in a failed MOT test and instructions to repair it before re-taking the test. Even if the object which caused the puncture has filled the hole and no air is actively leaking, this weakens the overall structure of the tyre and can lead to issues later on.

As such, tester-givers usually suspend the grade until repairs have been applied, if they can be applied. If the puncture is too deep or wide, a full replacement may be needed.

TPMS Malfunction

Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) use electronic sensors in the wheels to measure tyre pressure. If the pressures drop or are too high, then a dashboard warning light notifies the driver. These systems are inspected by the MOT tester, and if found faulty, they will result in test failure.

A certified garage will be able to repair this system and ensure the light functions properly again. This may involve lengthy repairs, or merely resetting the TPMS and replacing the internal batteries. Luckily, you can get this serviced alongside your tyres in the same, money-saving package.

Keeping Your Tyres MOT-Worthy

The more repairs or replacements that are needed on your tyres, the more costly it will become. To ensure your budget isn't harmed and your MOT test is passed successfully on the first try, it's worth maintaining your tyres throughout the year.

Here are tips that will keep your tyres MOT-worthy:

Don't Touch Kerbs

Most sidewall damage occurs after a rough bang or scrape against a kerb. If you regularly scuff the tyres when parking, this can lead to long-term tyre damage.

Avoid Driving Into Potholes

Driving over potholes (especially at high speeds) can damage your tyres, as well as your suspension. Both of these can lead to MOT failures, so it's worth slowing down and going around potholes when the opportunity arises.

Keep Your Tyre Pressures Right

Consulting with your owner's manual, checking the tyre pressure light on your dashboard (if you have one), or asking a mechanic for advice are helpful ways to determine the exact air pressure your tyres need. Being precise can improve your tyres' lifespan and your vehicle's performance.

Clean Off Spilled Oil Or Solvents

If you spill petrol on your tyres or drive through dirty water, make sure to clean whatever's left off of the tyres using clean water and soap. Prolonged exposure to solvents and oils will soften the tyre's base materials and can damage the structure of the sidewall.

Watch For Nails And Other Sharp Objects

Avoid driving on roads or in areas that have debris, such as branches, nails, glass, and other sharp objects. Even if you don't notice the damage automatically, it can harm your tyres and catch the eyes of MOT inspectors.

Ask An Expert At Autofusion

Visual checks and regular maintenance by an expert can prevent an MOT tyre fail. They'll also prolong the life of your tyres, save on fuel costs, and keep you safe.

If you're worried that your tyres are at risk of failing an MOT check, get in touch with your local Autofusion centre. Our team will provide impartial, expert advice about tyre safety, fitting solutions, and repairs according to your needs.