Want a used car that will pass its MOT? Here are the top ten marques

Everyone wants their car to sail calmly through its MOT. There are some simple ways we can all avoid MOT failure — such as checking your tyres — but it’s pretty apparent from VOSA and other statistics that some marques are simply more prone to failure than others.

Let’s say you’re buying a used car, and your priority is MOT success. Statistically speaking, what are the best manufacturers?

Lexus – the highest MOT pass rate. Photo courtesy Lexus Blog

There’s no shortage of online information on this. The problem is that there are discrepancies and downright contradictions between different sites. After plenty of digging around, we settled on the research carried out by the Honest John website — a source that we trust.

For their analysis, they only included vehicles with more than 5000 tested vehicles. This excludes expensive exotica with stellar pass rates, making their list more relevant to mere mortals.

The list of top ten manufacturers makes for interesting reading.

The marques with the highest pass rates

To compile this list, the Honest John team used the MOT pass rates over the period 1980-2013. What’s great about this is that it gives us a solid picture of long-term reliability and durability.

Here are the rankings, from highest to lowest:

  • Lexus – 75% pass rate. As the luxury arm of Toyota, it’s not surprising that Lexus live up to their reputation for unflappable reliability. Perhaps it also reflects careful ownership: without wishing to stereotype, Lexus owners are not generally noted for mercilessly thrashing their cars.
  • Audi – 70% pass rate. As VW group specialists, we’re chuffed about that! Given the range of vehicles produced, including plenty of performance vehicles, the number two spot is a real testament to the quality of Audi manufacture.
  • Toyota – 70% pass rate. For years, Toyotas are well-known for their bomb-proof construction. In fact, they’re so sturdy, they are almost as good as Audi!
  • Smart – 69% pass rate. Who would have thought that the little Smart car would do so well? What’s particularly impressive is that, given the nature of the cars, we might expect them to be notching up lots of short urban journeys that can be so tough on engines.
  • Honda – 68% pass rate. Another unsurprising result. Honda might not have the most glamorous image (notable exceptions aside), but they make up for it at MOT time. When this survey was conducted, the Honda Jazz topped the ratings for first-time MOT passes.
  • Chevrolet – 68% pass rate. Impressive, but the survey authors note that Chevrolet UK was not operating until 2005. Prior to that, many of the Chevys facing their MOTs would have been much-prized imports.
  • Jaguar – 68% pass rate. When Tata acquired Jaguar from Ford in 2008, it marked a spell of improvement for the Coventry-based company. With a massive investment in research and development, it seems likely that Jaguar’s reliability will continue on this upward trend.
  • BMW – 68% pass rate. Only the second German manufacturer to make the top ten, the authors note that Munich’s finest are showing steady improvement, with “cars registered from 2000 onwards showing above average performance.”
  • MINI – 67% pass rate. You might think that the high ranking is all down to BMW’s involvement. And though it’s true that reliability rose after BMW’s involvement in 2001, the figures still include the Rover Mini period of 1980 – 1990.
  • Mazda – 67% pass rate. The fourth Japanese manufacturer in our top ten, Mazda’s performance is slightly hampered by older cars like the 626 dragging their average down, but the Mazda 3 in particular has a strong showing with a 77.1% pass rate.

Want a hassle-free MOT?

Of course, choosing a manufacturer that does well statistically is only a start. Individual models vary widely, and individual cars even more so. To point out the obvious, the most durable car will fail its MOT if it’s been neglected. Just because it’s a Lexus doesn’t mean you can avoid due diligence about the car’s condition and history! To make sure your car passes many MOTs to come, get it serviced regularly and follow our tips for engine longevity.

And when its MOT time, give us a call!

Thanks to the Honest John team for the use of their data.