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Every year, hundreds of thousands of HGV’s undergo annual checks to ensure they are safe and roadworthy. Last year, 417,767 HGV’s were submitted for their annual checks in the UK. Out of that monumental number, 71,855 failed. That’s 17% that were found to be unsafe and removed from the road until the issues were rectified. As a driver, you can make all the difference in preventing some of these issues before they cost you a check. It’s all about knowing what to look for. Here are just 5 of the most common reasons a HGV will fail it’s annual check.

Brake Performance

While you can argue that every element of a HGV is important, there are few more essential to the safety of the driver and other road users than the brakes. It’s not surprising then that brake performance issues made up 5.1% of annual check failures in 2016. 1.4% of failures were on the secondary brakes, 1.2% on parking brakes ad 2.5% on full service brake performance.

Tachograph Performance

Tachographs are always a bit of a crunch point for drivers, because there is a divide of opinion about their necessity. But regardless of your opinion, unless you are exempt from tachograph regulations, you have to have one fitted to your HGV. All tachographs will undergo a visual inspection for presentness, damage and defects. Tests will also be run to assess whether it is working correctly, with elements like the timekeeper clock all checked out. Tachograph issues were responsible for 1% of annual check failures last year.

Steering Mechanism

The steering mechanism is another of those crucial elements of HGV maintenance. 1.9% of HGV’s failed their annual checks because of issues with their steering mechanisms. According to the DVSA’s HGV inspection manual,  your steering mechanism mush function correctly, be in line with the vehicle tracking and be smooth and easy to operate – not stiff or rough.

Headlight Aim

Headlight aim is still the single biggest cause of HGV check failure, despite regulation changes in 2015. Because HGV’s are a taller class of vehicle, the angle of the headlights is very important for the safety of other motorists. 4.8% of HGV’s failed their annual checks on this, so it’s essential you get it right. In order for your vehicle to pass, its headlights need to shine within the ‘pass band’ of a target. Too high, low or to the side, and it will fail and cost you an expensive realignment.


Lamps are quite high up there on the list of failure points for HGVs, purely because there are so many ways it can go wrong. This check looks at every single lamp and light on your vehicle, and If just one isn’t up to code, your vehicle will fail. The examiner will check that all lamps are secure to the vehicle safely and in the right places. This includes front and rear headlights, fog lights, brake lights, side lights, rear registration lights and any specialist lights as well.

Of course, a full HGV annual check comprises of over 1000 check points, any one of which can be the difference between success and failure for your vehicle. As the driver, you can mitigate a lot of these risks by maintaining your vehicle properly and getting a full service before you submit it for checks. For advice on how to care for your HGV, get in touch with one of our experts today.

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