How to prepare for an MOT

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Every car over the age of three years old needs an annual MOT test to ensure it is safe for the road. If your car fails the test, it will have to be repaired to fit the standards.  

There are a number of checks which you can do yourself at home, regardless of your ability, which many reduce the chance of a MOT failure.  

1.   Turn ignition on and ensure: 

  • Horn is working 
  • Windscreen washers and wipers are working 
  • Screenwash is filled 
  • The rubber blades on the windscreen wipers do not have an edge missing or any loose strips. If they do, these are easy to get from any retailers and simple to fit 
  • The seat belt must work properly, be properly mounted and neither be stuck nor cut. When you pull on the seat belt fast, the inertia reel should lock.  

2.   Tyres 

Walk around the vehicle and inspect the tyres. Make sure of the following things: 

  • There are no deeps cuts in the tyres  
  • Check that the opposite tyre matches on the same axle. Each tyre size and construction type must be the same.  

3.   Lights 

One of the most common failure points is lighting. Check: 

  • All outer bulbs are working 
  • Each light lens is free from cracks or damage 
  • Headlights, front and rear lights, brake lights, reversing lights, front and rear fog lights, and all indicators plus number plate lights are working. 

4.   Bodywork 

There should be no sharp edges to injure pedestrians, the bumper must be secure.  All car doors and hatches must be able to be opened.  

5.   Brakes 

It is impossible to check the brakes without specialist equipment properly, but there are a few things you can do: 

  • Look under the bonnet and make sure the brake system reservoir’s fluid level is between the minimum and maximum indicators. See your car’s handbook for information on where to find it. 
  • If you have to pull the handbrake lever too high through too much clicking, advise the tester that the cable probably needs to be adjusted 
  • Tap the handbrake to make sure it stays in position and doesn’t release.  

6.   Steering 

Similar to the brakes, it isn’t easy to check the steering without specialist equipment: 

  • Your steering wheel should be tight enough on the column. If it is loose or unusual movements occur when you turn, the column can be worn. 
  • Listen for a knock when turning the steering wheel from a full lock. 

7.   Shock absorber 

Please check that the shock absorbers aren’t leaking or worn You can check this by looking around the shock absorber and checking that this is not damp. 

8.   Windscreen and mirror 

It is not a failure to have small stone chips in your windscreen, but: 

  • Ensure that your windscreen is not in an unacceptable condition.  
  • There are no cracks or chips that obscure the driver’s vision.  
  • Mirrors should be securely fixed and glass in good condition 

9.   Exhaust 

  • Exhaust must be safe and secure. 
  • Visually check for exhaust leaks.  
  • Any visible smoke and your car may fail the emissions part of the test.