Many people don’t know this, but if your car is really dirty the examiner can refuse to carry out the MOT test at all. By the same token, if it’s full of old fast food wrappers and junk then you’re probably going to get the same decision because the tester may feel that the clutter prevented them carrying out the necessary visual checks.
If your car’s in a bit of a state and your MOT is coming up it’s best not to risk a fail for this reason: give it a clean inside and out and make sure the lights and number plate are clean, too.
DAMAGED OR ILLEGIBLE REGISTRATION PLATES
This is quite a silly reason for your car to fail its MOT, because if there’s a fault here it’s usually quite apparent. At the very least you should check that your car’s number plates are intact and securely attached and that they can be read from a distance of 20 m.
If your number plates are made with a non-standard font, or the letters and numbers are unusually spaced, you may fail your MOT for this reason. Consult the DVLA website to find out whether your plates are legal.
LIGHTS NOT WORKING
An amazing one-third of all MOT fails are due to vehicle lights not working. Since your car’s lights are such an easy thing to check, this is something that should never happen to you. Give the lights a clean and get a friend to try them while you look on to make sure all is well.
Don’t forget to check the parking lights, reversing lights, indicators and the lamps over the number plates as well as the headlights.
POOR CONDITION OF TYRES AND INCORRECT WHEELS
The tyres on your car must be the correct type and size for the vehicle, so if you’ve got a space-saving spare wheel in place, replace it with a normal one before you get your car tested.
It’s worth using a tyre tread gauge to check that your tyres aren’t bald, as well: the absolute legal minimum permitted is 1.6 mm, but for safety’s sake you really shouldn’t let your tyres get as worn down as that.
Finally, you should check that tyre pressure is correct, and carry out a visual inspection to look for bulges, slashes or other obvious damage.
DRIVER’S VIEW OF THE ROAD OBSCURED
This is related to the cleanliness issue because a filthy windscreen and mirrors certainly aren’t going to count in your favour here. Also, check your windscreen wipers and blades: if they’re not effective and just smear dirt over your field of view then they’ll need changing prior to the MOT.
Plus, have a look and see if there are any substantial chips or cracks in the windscreen that might count against you. Tiny ones are usually fine, but if in doubt it’s best to get them repaired.
WARNING LIGHTS ON DASHBOARD
A survey conducted by ‘What Car?’ for the year between August 2012 and August 2013 found that 800 cars failed their MOT for this reason. Warning lights were showing on the dashboard and the driver hadn’t taken the trouble to investigate the cause.
So many people were probably caught out because this check is part of a stricter MOT introduced in January 2012 to monitor the condition of in-car safety features.
However, it is now an absolutely standard component of the test, so consider yourself warned.
LOUD OR SMOKING EXHAUST
Unfortunately, this is a common and certain way of failing the MOT. The best fix for this problem is to keep an eye – and ear – out for any changes in your exhaust and get them remedied as soon as they occur. It can be tricky to spot a subtle exhaust leak unless you’re able to jack the car up, so your best bet is to remain vigilant and rely on expert help.
Cars fail their MOT for many different reasons, but some of the most common are entirely preventable. Don’t let this happen to your vehicle.