Once your vehicle reaches three years old, it will require an annual MOT. According to statistics, in recent years more than a third of cars have failed their MOT first time round, so it’s no surprise we get anxious about potential problems and their associated costs.
Many MOT failures are predictable, and can be prevented with some simple checks before your car gets officially put through its paces. We think you can do this all in no time, and potentially save yourself a hefty bill.
Have a good look around at all four tyres, and check for any obvious damage – screws or tears in the sidewalls, for instance. Also check the tread; if it’s more than 5,000 miles since you last had them changed, do the ‘20p test’ right the way across each tyre.
To do this, insert a 20p piece into each groove of the tread; if you can see any of the rim of the coin, it’s likely the tyre needs replacing.
If you find you need to purchase new tyres, you can order them from us online.
Look out for any cracks or chips in the windscreen. Anything larger than 1cm in the driver’s field of vision, or 4cm anywhere else, is an automatic fail. You’ll need a whole new windscreen if the problem’s serious, but you might be able to prevent a costly crack if you catch it sooner. We offer windscreen repairs at our Inchape Bodyshops should you need any issues fixing ahead of your MOT.
You should also remove anything attached to the windscreen on the inside ahead of your MOT - stickers in the corners are fine, but a phone cradle in the middle definitely isn’t.
Ensure the engine has enough oil (use the dipstick) and make sure there’s some windscreen washer in. Part of the test checks that the windscreen washer pump works, but they can’t do that if the reservoir is empty – and they won’t fill it up for you.
Try to ensure every lightbulb on the car’s exterior works, so enlist the help of a friend to see if they’re functioning. All of these must work:
- Front headlights (dipped and full beam)
- Side (parking) lights
- Rear brake lights (including centre repeater, if it has one)
- Rear headlights
- Front and side indicators
- Rear fog light (central or driver’s side)
- Number plate lights
A note on front fog lights: while they don’t necessarily need to work, you must at least be able to turn them off. So, if they’re jammed for some reason, a broken button is no excuse.
Your driver’s seat must move forwards and backwards. So remove any rubbish (like plastic drinks bottles) that might be trapped under the seat, inhibiting the sliding mechanism.
6. Number plate
Both need to be clearly legible from 20 metres away. If one is damaged/broken, deteriorated (by water damage) or simply filthy, it’s a fail. At the very least, give them a good clean. If they’re damaged, replacements are easily available.
Your front windscreen wipers must work, and be in good enough condition to clear the windscreen – so dirty the screen a little and give them a test. If your rear windscreen wiper isn’t working, don't worry too much as it's not part of the test, but it's still something you should look at getting repaired.