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DVSA annual test data: regular checks reduce fail rates


The Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) has recently published its findings from the heavy-duty vehicles ‘annual test’ for quarter 2 of 2019. With thousands of vehicles taking the test, data highlights the main causes for test failure, which in many cases can be avoided by regular, simple checks of the vehicle.

The chart below demonstrates the spread between the top ten reasons reported for failure, with lighting and braking related causes dominating the chart.

The results show that reasons for failure are similar to that of private cars, although lorries, PVCs and trailers go through more meticulous maintenance and testing. Another alarming factor is the potential consequences these typical faults could have. With some of these faults being so simple to establish and rectify through regular checks and maintenance, some of the potentially life-threatening situations that result could be easily avoided.

With lighting and braking related issues causing so many of the test fails, it may be sensible to consider the addition of headlamp testers and brake testers to your workshop. Both products have recently been added to Totalkare’s extensive product portfolio in order to support our customers further with the repair and maintenance of their vehicles.

The driver’s daily walkaround check is also vital, helping to prevent dangerous faults and many potential test fails. Hugh Rimmer, Vehicle Testing Taskforce Lead at DVSA, explains: “Picking defects up early can prevent the problem from getting worse, prevent accidents and reduce downtime caused by the vehicle failing its annual test”.

The report shows that fleet age unsurprisingly has an impact, with HGV fail rates increasing from 3.3% in their first year, to 28.7% after 12 years. The advice from Rimmer is “to keep a close eye on vehicles as they get older and increase regular maintenance checks.”

Fleet size also has a significant impact, with single HGV fail rates at 19.9%, in contrast to 4.4% for fleets with over 100 vehicles. The figures are likely due to having more available expenditure for vehicle maintenance, however “all heavy vehicles should have a daily walkaround check and no matter how many vehicles you have, somebody must fill the role of Transport Manager” Rimmer insists.

The key takeaway from this report appears to be the highlighted significance of regular vehicle checks and ongoing simple maintenance in reducing potentially dangerous faults, test fails and business downtime. Such a minor sacrifice for a large reward.


Rimmer, H. (2019). Passing the annual test [Moving On]. https://movingon.blog.gov.uk/2019/09/27/passing-the-annual-test/