James Ruppert: The cars most likely to fail an MOT

Every year, a Sunday newspaper digs out some freedom of information stats relating to MOTs and I have a bit of a rant about them. No money changes hands, but I rather enjoy it and they mention Bangernomics to the masses. Obviously, there is a tabloid approach to things, which helps.

So here we go, based on 2000 MOT tests and with a failure rate of 21%: “The Dacia brand may advertise itself as being one of the cheapest ways to get inside a new car – but MOT stats show they are also the most likely to fail when driven in for their first MOT test.”

Well, it is all about ownership profiles; about the sort of person who buys that brand of vehicle and then expects a particular outcome. The Dacia is the bargain buy and the buyer expects it to maintain itself, so no surprise there. They don’t really care about cars. I realise that is very knee-jerk and I am, of course, not referring to any Autocar readers. But if you like the idea of a used Dacia, I spotted a 2013 Sandero Access, a poor little 1.2 with 50k miles, upmarket parking sensors and a full MOT – and all for £2695, which would be a very good start for someone who did want to play the budget game.

At the other end of the scale, if you can afford a Lexus brand new, then you are committed to keeping it in good condition. It certainly helps that the build quality is exceptional compared with a Dacia’s. Lexus’s RX comes top of the MOT table, with just 5% of them taken in for their first test failing to pass. At the value end, I saw a 2005 model advertised with one year’s MOT and a warranty, so that ticks all the boxes for £2490. Just over 110k miles, but really it’s a Toyota.

Well-known models that fail their initial MOT the most frequently include popular cars such as the Citroën C4 (18.6% failure rate), the Ford Galaxy (19.3%) and the Volkswagen Passat (19.5%).

Volkswagens are generally well put together whereas Citroëns can be rather more complicated and therefore more things can go wrong during the MOT test. Volkswagens, like Fords, are bought usually to do a tough job, a full working day up and down motorways, amassing higher than average mileages. Hence their appearance at the rough end of the chart. Working cars don’t get regular checks and breaks, unlike a Lexus.

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Question: I have a Mazda CX-5 on my shortlist. But I don’t want to buy a car from a maker that might not survive the recession. Am I worrying too much? Nick Jones, via email

Answer: Mazda has recently requested loans worth $2.8 billion (£2.3bn) to help it navigate the coronavirus crisis but it has its best line-up of in-demand car in years and is engaged in a wide range of joint projects with Toyota, which owns at least 5% of the firm. I’d be more worried about companies such as Ssangyong than Mazda. MA