North Yorkshire Police reveal five most common vehicle faults

Photo: S/Sgt Slattery/North Yorkshire Police.

Roads policing officers in North Yorkshire are urging drivers to check their vehicles are roadworthy – and revealing the five most common vehicle faults they see.

It comes as thousands of vehicles that had their MOT suspended for six months in April due to Covid-19 are almost due for an MOT test.

Roads Policing Inspector Rich Champion said: “Some vehicles on the road today won’t have been MOTd for 17 months due to the Covid MOT suspension. So it’s vital that drivers are checking and maintaining their vehicles properly.

“We’re not here to catch people out – we want to ensure people stay safe and legal – so I’m revealing the five most common defects we see. These are some of the pitfalls we encounter time and time again. But the good news is they’re easy to avoid.”

1. Worn tyres
Insp Champion said: “A car or light van should have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm in a continuous band around the central three-quarters of the tyre. For motorbikes it’s 1mm.

“To test this, you can buy a tyre gauge or you can visually check the wear indicators on your tyre. They are little ridges, spaced evenly inside the tread of the tyre.

“If they’re flush with the tread, it’s time for a change. If you don’t feel confident checking this yourself, many garages do it for free. We encounter worn tyres frequently, but ignorance is not an excuse.”

2. Blown or defective lights
“This one’s pretty simple,” said Insp Champion. “Check headlights (all beams), tail lights, indicators and get someone to apply the brake pedal while you check brake lights.

“We also see loads of problems with lights on trailers and caravans – the connections can sometimes be faulty, or bulbs blow after being unused for long periods, so you must check all your lights before towing.”

3. Lack of valid insurance, tax or MOT
Insp Champion said: “Remember that if your MOT was suspended in early April due to Covid, it’ll be due in the next few weeks. There is no further extension and if you have no MOT, your insurance will also be invalid.

“If you’re ever in any doubt about whether you are covered by an insurance policy, always check the terms with the insurer directly. We see a lot of people who say they are covered by someone else’s policy and they aren’t.

“The cost of getting their vehicle seized far outweighs what it would cost them to get proper insurance. We can check this instantly.”

4. Aftermarket modifications
“Many aftermarket modifications don’t cause drivers any problems, as long as they’re declared on their insurance,” Insp Champion said. “However, if they are not ‘road legal’ products, or not covered on the vehicle’s insurance, you could run into big issues.

“The most common illegal modifications we see are number plates that have the wrong font, spacing, size or colour; tinted windows that are so dark they’re not road legal; and sports exhausts that aren’t approved for road use.

“We do check these things – they may look cool when you fit them, but you certainly won’t when you’re standing at the side of the road getting a ticket from a police officer.”

5. Overladen vehicles
Insp Champion said: “Many drivers never stop to consider the weight they add to a vehicle or trailer when loading it up. You need to check that the load you are adding doesn’t exceed the load that the vehicle  trailer can legally carry – look for a plate or sticker that has these numbers on them, or check your users’ manual.

“You also need to check your licence allows you to carry or tow that amount of weight. The rules differ depending on when you passed your driving test. If you hire a van, make sure that you understand how much weight it can legally carry – this often catches people out, especially if they’re in a rush to get everything moved before they have to return the vehicle.”

>> You can check when you’re vehicle’s MOT expires simply by entering your registration number at