There maybe lies, damned lies and statistics, but it’s hard to ignore MoT failure figures, especially if they get worse year-after-year. But that is what has been happening for class seven vehicle MoTs - goods vehicles between 3,000 and 3,500 kg gross weight.
Vans tend to be organised in fleets – so these figures are significant for fleet managers.
According to unpublished VOSA (Vehicle and Operator Services Agency) figures obtained by Fleet News, initial failures for class-seven vans have risen from 47.9% in financial year 2007/8, to 49.3% in 2008/9 and then 50% in 2009/10.
This contrasts with historic published figures – see below – which quote lower failure rates, although the failure trend is still rising for vans – up from 43.4% in 2006/7, 44.9% in 2007/8 to 45.6% in 2008/9.
There are similarly rising failure rates for cars, smaller vans and passenger vehicles with up to 12 seats: up from 33.3% for 2006/7; 35.3% in 2007/8; and 36.3% in 2008/9. Key fail items here were tyres, lights, brakes and suspension.
Stephen Latham, senior operations manager for the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI), thinks there are long and short-term reasons.
The main culprit is the recession. “We’re very concerned about this. It’s not so much the delay in replacing vans. We think it’s because of the recession people have cut back on maintenance and are expecting one van to do more,” he told Fleet News.
But the slump is not the whole picture, he said. Some van fleets were simply having fewer services: “Intervals in the last six to seven years have been extended out. The days when it was always a 12,000 mile service are long gone,” he said.
Van operators are missing this “by a mile” he says in some cases leaving services until 20,000 miles. This was partly a result of the perceived increased reliability today.
“People expect vehicles to run for ever. The biggest failure rates are brakes, visibility, windscreens,” he said. “These are quite simply preventable.”
Manufacturers are also being driven by fleet companies to reduce service costs. “It’s what the market is demanding. Our market does not want to spend money after purchasing a vehicle,” said Latham. “It really is a case of penny pinching and people thinking they can do without services. It doesn’t make sense.”