WHAT IS CHECKED DURING AN MOT?
Have you wondered exactly what is tested when you car undergoes an MOT? Did you know that more than a fifth of cars in the UK fail their first MOT test?
Below you will find a list of the checks completed – perhaps you’ll spot something that needs addressing before booking your next MOT. You can save money on your MOT and maximise your chances of passing by becoming familiar with the following checks & tests.
BASIC MOT TEST MECHANICAL CHECKS
STEERING AND SUSPENSION
The MOT test centre will check your steering wheel and all the steering system components to make sure they work properly. This is difficult to check yourself, but you can do a quick check of your car’s suspension. Apply your weight to each corner of the car and release. If the suspension is ok it should settle down quickly.
There shouldn’t be any part of the exhaust or mountings missing, so ensure nothing’s hanging loose. Be on the look out for any major leaks and check the silencer is working. To make sure every- thing is in order before the MOT test, start the car up and listen for any excessive or unusual noise.
Your car must meet the legal requirements for exhaust emissions to pass its MOT test. These depend on the age of your car and the type of fuel you use. You can’t check this yourself, but if there’s a lot of smoke coming from it there’s probably a fault.
Check that the fuel tank and all visible components, like hoses and pipes are secure and free from leaks. The fuel cap should fasten tightly and be undamaged—a split seal could be enough to make your car fail its MOT.
Check the footbrake and the handbrake. There shouldn’t be any visible leaks from the brake pipes. Wheels aren’t removed during the test and the tester will only look at what is visible and easily accessible. If you have ABS make sure the warning light works.
WIPERS AND WINDSCREEN
The wipers and washers should work well enough to allow you a clear view of the road. Make sure you top up the washer bottle before the MOT test (some garages will charge for this) and use a pin to unblock the jets if necessary. It’s also important to make sure your windscreen is in good condition before the MOT test, particularly the area that is swept by the wipers. Remove any stickers that could obstruct your view and look out for chips or cracks longer than 1cm.
WHEELS AND TYRES
Car tyres must be the right type and size. If you have fitted a space-saver spare tyre onto one of your wheels, replace it with a standard tyre before the test. Check that all tyres have a tread depth of 1.6mm right the way around and across the central three-quarters of the pattern. Look for significant lumps or cuts in the sidewall.
All of your lights (including headlamps, parking lights, reversing lights, indicators and registration plate bulbs) need to be the right colour and in good working order. Clean them and then get someone to try them while you walk around your car. If they flicker when tapped lightly with your hand they probably need tightening into position or replacing altogether. If you find a bulb has blown its a good idea to change it before the MOT test, we can do this for you.
Walk around your car and look at its general condition. The body should be free from excessive corrosion or damage — particularly anything that is likely to affect the braking or steering. There shouldn’t be any sharp edges exposed that could be a danger to other road users — if there are your car could fail its MOT test.
Make sure your registration plates are in a good condition and are tightly fastened to the car. All the letters and numbers should be easy to read from 20m away. Bear in mind police can perceive the use of unusual fonts as an attempt at obstructing the law. If you are unsure of whether your number plate meets the legal requirements visit the DVLA website before the MOT test.
All doors must open and close freely for your car to pass its MOT test. Once shut, they should remain firmly closed. Front doors should be able to open from the inside and outside of the car.
Before the MOT test take a look at the front seats to make sure they don’t move around when they’re not supposed to. Front and rear seatbacks should be locked into the upright position.
Frayed or damaged seatbelts are a definite no- no. Before you head to the test centre, check they work properly and make sure they are firmly fixed to the seats or the structure of the car itself.
Give your horn a quick toot to make sure it’s in good voice. The horn should be audible, clearly labelled and easily accessible.
Check your mirrors. They should be in a good position and clearly visible from the driver’s seat. Mirrors should provide the driver with a clear view of the rear of the car.