There is no getting around the fact that every car more than three years old will need an annual MOT. A valid MOT certificate proves your car is roadworthy and meets various safety and environmental standards. It is a legal requirement – without it car insurance is invalid and you will not be able to tax your car.
A surprisingly high number of cars fail their MOT every year for relatively minor faults, such as lights, signalling faults and tyres – all of which can be easily rectified.
Preparing Your Car for an MOT Test
There are several checks you can carry out yourself to reduce the chances of your car failing its MOT:
Check the Tyres
The minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, however most garages will recommend changing the tyres when the depth is between 2-3mm – check your tyre tread on all 4 tyres.
Tyre pressure should also be checked on all 4 tyres, refer to your car’s handbook for the correct pressures.
Check All Lights
Make sure all the lights are in good working order – this includes:
- dipped headlights
- main beam
- front and rear side lights
- reversing light(s)
- brake lights
- fog lights
- all 4 indicator lights
Ensure the lenses of all the lights are free from cracks or any sort of damage.
If all bulbs for the indicator lights have been replaced and there is still a fault, this could indicate an electrical problem which must be fixed before the MOT.
Examine both the front and rear windscreens carefully to ensure there are no chips or cracks. Make sure the windscreen wiper blades are in good working order and there are no pieces missing from the blade – if in doubt, replace them.
Windscreen wiper fluid should be checked and topped up if necessary, as this will also be inspected – an empty or blocked washer jet may cause MOT failure.
All required mirrors should be present, securely fixed and the glass should be in good condition without any chips or scratches.
All seat belts should fasten and release easily, the inertia reel should lock and there should be no damage or fraying to the seatbelt itself.
The bodywork should be in good condition, there must be no dangerous sharp edges, other projections, rust or signs of corrosion or damage. The bumpers and number plates should be firmly fastened onto the car.
Although professional equipment is needed to check the exhaust thoroughly, a superficial examination can be done – any strange noises, rattles or smoke when the engine is running, is an indication of a problem.
Be sure to check the brake fluid level and test the hand brake to make sure it is not too loose. The brake pads should be checked by a professional for any excess wear.
Often overlooked, the car horn will be tested in an MOT and should be present, functional and highly audible.
Doors, Bonnet and Boot
All doors of the car must open and close properly from both inside and out, to provide quick access or escape from the vehicle in an emergency. The hinges should also be in good condition, the same applies for the boot and the bonnet.
Both front seats must be securely fastened in an upright position and slide back and forth on their runners.
There should be no leaks with the fuel cap fastening and sealing correctly.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
This should be clearly visible and permanently displayed on the car.
All warning lights should go out once the car has been started.
Other Areas – Harder to Check
There are other areas that will be subject to inspection during an MOT but will require professional help for checking include:
- exhaust emissions
- exhaust system
- fuel system
- steering suspension
Clean Your Car
It's unpleasant for the testers if your car is filthy and full of rubbish! If the car is in a really bad state, the garage can actually refuse to test your car.