Prepare your car for the MOT | Simple repairs for the MOT

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Prepare your car to pass the MOT!

Whether or not you are a good DIY car mechanic there are some things you can do to prepare your car for the MOT.

Here’s a quick checklist:

    • Check that all the lights work, you’ll have to get somebody to stand behind the car to check that the brake lights are working – and don’t forget the hazards and number plate lamps!
    • Check the wiper blades, any significant splits or breaks in the rubber means a fail. Do the washers work, properly clearing the screen? Do the blades fully sweep from side to side?
    • Do the seat belts ‘clunk-click’ properly? Are they frayed anywhere? Slowly pull the belt out of the inertia reel to check.
    • Are any rear view mirrors cracked or broken? That could also be a failure, depending on the car’s age.
    • Do the car’s wheel rims have any serious ‘kerb’ damage? If so it could fail – but if the spare is OK put it on before the MOT. The spare wheel/tyre is not checked for the MOT.
    • Have a look at the tyres – are there bald patches or serious cuts in the side wall? That too would be a failure. Again, what’s your spare tyre like? If it’s OK put that on before the MOT.

Other MOT failure items that car owners can check, but will probably not be able to remedy themselves (Dashboard warning lamps):

1. Rear fog lamp warning light

2.  Indicator tell tale light (or audible sign the indicator is working)

3. Hazard warning light

4. Main beam tell tale light

5. Electronic power steering light

6. Electronic parking brake light or message

7. ABS (Anti-lock Braking System) warning light

8. Esc (traction control ) warning light

9. Brake fluid warning light illuminated/inoperative

10. TPMS (tyre pressure monitoring system) warning light (after January 1st 2012)

11. Air bag (SRS) warning light

MOT run out? Book your MOT Test BEFORE driving to the Testing Station!

It is illegal to drive a car without a valid MOT – and you can’t get it taxed either. So to help motorists the Government allows you to drive to and from an MOT Testing Station without road tax and MOT provided you have booked it in with the MOT Station in advance – but you must be insured!

Washers, wipers and windscreen

Make sure the washers have water in them and that they work properly – this is an MOT item. Look at your wiper blades to see if the surface which wipes the screen is not cracked, broken or damaged in any way. Has the windscreen got any large cracks in it. If it has then that could be a failure depending on how extensive they are and where they appear on the screen – and remember, many insurance policies allow windscreen replacement without affecting the policy.

Windscreen rules are (see windscreen graphic):

In Zone A
damage not contained within a 10mm diameter circle, or
a windscreen sticker or other obstruction encroaching more than 10mm.
a combination of minor damage areas which seriously restricts the driver’s view.

In the remainder of the swept area:

4. damage not contained within a 40mm diameter circle, or
5. a winscreen sticker or other obstruction encroaching more than 40mm.
6. a temporary windscreen fitted.

MOT Windscreen test







Wheels and tyres

Prepare for the MOT - wheel bearingHint: The rules do not allow a Tester to remove the hub caps; if you want the Tester to look at your wheel nuts (visual inspection only), you must remove the hub caps yourself.

If you have ‘alloy’ wheels with the wheel nuts exposed, make sure that none are missing. If the wheel rim has been seriously damaged that too could be a failure. Also, check the valve to make sure that it has not been damaged or is misaligned. Although you do not have to remove the hub caps for the Test, and the Tester won’t do so if they remain on the vehicle, you will have a better examination of the vehicle if you do remove them, although if any wheel nuts are missing a failure will result.

Checking the tyres is also important. As far as the tyres themselves are concerned the requirements regarding the type of tyre, its structure and which type of tyre is acceptable or not on the fronts or rears, that is quite technical and would require expert knowledge.

However, the tyre condition can be visually checked. Has the tyre wall been damaged? Are there any serious cuts or damage on the tread? And you can check the wear by seeing if it has extended beyond the so called ‘wear bars’ within the tread. If they are smooth across the tread then there will be less than the acceptable 1.6mm of tread required.

The spare tyre is not checked as part of the MOT. Obviously, if the ‘spare’ tyre is actually fitted to the vehicle, then it will be checked in the normal way. ‘Temporary Use’ spare tyres will fail the MOT if fitted at the time of the MOT Test.

Lights, indicators and hazards

Very obviously, check all the lights and indicators are working and replace any failed bulbs. Make sure the hazards working too. Either use a mirror placed behind the car, or get someone to stand behind the car while you operate the brakes, hazard lights, fog light and indicators. The number plate light is also part of the MOT, although the reversing light is not.


Although it isn’t necessary to present a cleaned and polished vehicle for an MOT, if the underside, or items requiring inspection in the engine compartment is really dirty and covered in oil, then the Tester can refuse to inspect it and you will have made an unnecessary journey. Also, if you are taking a small van or truck for MOT, if there is a large load on board that too may have to be removed for the MOT. The same applies to items in the boot; do not present the car for Test with the boot crammed full. The Tester may have to look into the boot to examine the rear suspension mounting and will need to be able to see them to complete the MOT.

Have a look at the seat belts. Do they properly engage? Is the belt frayed or cut? That too could result in a failure.

Damaged bodywork can also cause an MOT failure if it is likely to result in damage or injury to other road users, including pedestrians – so make sure that there are no nasty jagged exposed edges.

Is there a smell of petrol? Do not present your car for an MOT Test with a fuel leak. Any fuel leak at all will result in an immediate failure with no other items being examined because of the serious potential hazard during the MOT Test.

Oh, and finally, you may need the vehicle registration documents as some MOT Tested items are checked in a way which could depend on when the vehicle was first registered. If your vehicle falls across one of these date breaks, and the Tester doesn’t have the documentation to check, you may find you will be turned away until you have the correct paper work which can be checked.

Next page: Carrying out your own repairs for the MOT

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