Simply put, an MOT test is an annual vehicle check which guarantees that your car meets crucial safety requirements. Almost every vehicle over three years old is legally required to pass an MOT test each year; this is to make sure that every car is up to the standards of roadworthiness necessary to keep yourself and other drivers safe.
Most MOT tests generally take between 45 minutes and an hour – but if your car fails its MOT, then it may need repairs, which could take days, or even weeks. MOTs aren’t usually too costly; the maximum you can be charged for a standard vehicle MOT is £54.85 – but again, if your car fails, repairs will drive this cost up.
Failing your MOT is always disappointing – as well as costing you time and money. That’s why we’ve put together the ultimate MOT checklist, so you can be sure you’ve done everything you can to get your vehicle MOT-ready before it goes into the garage.
If you struggle to remember when your MOT test is due our handy MOT reminder tool will notify you in plenty of time, so you’ll never let yours expire again.
Simple MOT Pre-checks and Replacements
There are plenty of small, quick checks you can carry out before an MOT, which reduce the chances of your car failing for something minor. Here are a few things you should run through before you book yours:
- Windscreen – check for cracks and chips. Any larger than 40mm on the passenger side, or 10mm on the driver’s side, will cause your car to fail.
- Windscreen wipers – make sure your wiper blades aren’t splitting, and your windscreen washers aren’t blocked.
- Lights – ensure that all your bulbs are in full working order; if they’re dim, they may need replacement bulbs. This includes headlights, indicators, brake lights, hazard warning lights, fog lights and your vehicle registration light.
- Engine and fuel oil – it’s important your oil levels are high enough for emissions tests to be carried out. You can measure it by checking that your oil level falls between the min and max marks on your vehicle’s dipstick.
- Tyres – check that all your tyres are sufficiently inflated, and you’ll need to have tread measuring at least 1.6mm on all four tyres to pass your MOT.
- Exhaust – make sure your exhaust isn’t rattling or emitting fumes which are unusually dark or pungent.
- Brakes – check your brakes are working effectively, and your car isn’t leaning to one side when they’re applied – don’t forget to check your handbrake too.
- Mirrors – make sure your mirrors are clean, clear and undamaged, as well as securely attached to your vehicle.
- Dashboard lights – check that all the warning lights on your dashboard are properly functioning; you can do this by starting your car.
- Seatbelts – ensure all seatbelts in your vehicle can be fastened securely, and check that they lock when pulled suddenly.
- Horn – your horn will be tested in your MOT, so don’t forget to try it out before you drop your car off.
What does an MOT Test include?
While these pre-checks are a smart way to minimise your car’s chances of failing, the MOT test itself will be much more extensive. Checks carried out by the mechanic will usually fall into four standardized categories, which we’ll break down in more detail below. You can find the official government MOT test over on the DVSA website.
- Interior checks. This category involves checks inside the cabin of your car, including things like your seats and seatbelts, brake controls, steering wheel and speedometer.
- Exterior checks. This section of your MOT will test several elements on the outside of your vehicle, such as your lights, mirrors, shock absorbers, tyres and the general condition of the body of your car.
- Under bonnet checks. Unsurprisingly, this part of the MOT focuses on parts of your car under the bonnet, including your braking systems, steering and power steering components, as well as your suspension.
- Under vehicle checks. Components which fall into this criteria of your MOT include (but are not limited to) your fuel system and fuel tank, wheel bearings, wheels and tyres, plus your exhaust system.
- Emissions. Finally, there’s the emissions test, which samples the fumes being released by your car’s exhaust, to check the toxicity levels.
Common MOT Fails
While there are hundreds of possible reasons why a car could fail its MOT, the majority of failed MOTs are caused by a small range of common problems. According to DVSA data, up to 30% of fails are caused by lighting and signalling in your vehicle – which is why checking all your bulbs and dashboard lights is such an important pre-check.
Meanwhile, 10% of fails tend to come from faults related to tyres – so double check that 1.6mm tread minimum – and 8.5% from mirrors, wipers and washers, or in other words, anything which might impede the driver’s view of the road.
Want to find out more about the most avoidable causes of MOT failure? Check out our article detailing 10 common MOT fails to avoid.
What are advisory notes?
Advisory notes left by the mechanic will provide details of any issues that were identified during your MOT test, but were not drastic enough to cause your car to fail. They’re generally intended to highlight any issues which could lead to repairs in the future.
The advisory notes you get after your MOT might flag things like the early stages of corrosion, your tyre tread getting close to the legal minimum, or if your brake pads are looking relatively worn. These are issues which are not currently making the vehicle unsafe, but may do if left unattended.
As the car owner, you’re not legally obliged to act on recommendations made in the advisory notes on your MOT. However, ignoring them is likely to cause more trouble in the long run, so keep an eye on the problem and make the suggested changes if you can – you might save your car from failing its next MOT. We can even arrange for these repairs to be carried out for you, using our Fit It For Me service.
We hope this break down can help you get prepared for your car’s next MOT. Not sure whether your vehicle needs an MOT test? Check out our article on which vehicles are exempt from MOTs to find out more.
Don’t forget, you can be notified of your MOT expiry date with our useful MOT reminder tool.