MOTs are something every car owner will have to endure once every 12 months after their car reaches 3 years old. The test is designed to ensure the car is roadworthy and safe to drive. If a car doesn’t pass MOT legal requirements, it cannot legally be taxed, insured, or driven – and being caught doing the latter can result in fines of up to £2500.
If your MOT is approaching, you may be worried about whether your vehicle is going to pass or fail. Thankfully, there are some simple checks which you can do to give your vehicle the best chance of passing first time.
Our MOT checklist will ensure that you don’t get caught short by a common fault on your next visit to the garage.
Your MOT Checklist
Here are some things you should check before taking your car for its MOT test.
- Lights & Signalling – These account for 30% of all MOT failures; an unnecessary inconvenience when they are easy to check and cheap to replace.
Turn all your vehicle’s lights on and have a friend or family member walk around your car to make sure no lights are dimmed or broken. Don’t forget to check your number plate lights too (at least one of the two must be working in order to pass your MOT)
- Brakes – 10% of cars fail due to this – although brakes aren’t the easiest thing to test without experience, you can get a pretty good idea just by paying close attention to the way they feel.
Check the functionality of your brakes in a safe environment. If they feel loose or unresponsive, it’s likely you’ll need to visit a garage before taking your car in for its MOT.
- Tyres – Another common fault responsible for 10% of test failures, the condition of your tyres can be easily checked at home.
The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across the central ¾ of the tyre. Anything less than this will be marked as an MOT fail. To test the tread depth of your tyres, there is a simple 20p test you can carry out to determine whether or not you need them replaced.
To find out more about the safety of your tyres, read our dedicated blog post.
- Horn – This may come as news to some, but if your car horn doesn’t work, it will fail its MOT. Luckily, you can test this easily simply by honking it.
Try and test your horn somewhere where it’s unlikely to startle other drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians.
- Windscreen, Wipers & Washers –5% of all MOT faults are related to the driver’s view of the road. Your view must be unobstructed and both wipers and washers must be operational.
Ensure there are no stickers or other obstructions to your view which could cause an MOT failure. This includes large air fresheners or decorative hangings from your rear-view mirror as well as cracks or chips on the windscreen: any damage 10mm or more in the zone directly in front of the driver will result in failure.
- Warning Lights – As the name suggests, warning lights showing up on your dashboard usually mean there’s something wrong with your vehicle. Whilst this could be something as simple as needing to top up your oil, often it may require the help of your local garage.
Check your car owner manual to determine what your dashboard warning lights mean. Note that if your Engine Management light is on, this will automatically result in an MOT fail as it’s classed as a major fault.
- Fuel & Engine Oil – A simple fact which many overlook is that your car will need enough fuel and engine oil for its MOT. The MOT tester may refuse to run the engine to check exhaust emission levels should the fuel or engine oil levels be too low.
You can check your engine oil level using your dipstick and be sure to top up with enough fuel prior to your MOT.
- Seats & Seatbelts – The aim of an MOT is to test the safety of your vehicle and so seats and seatbelts are key.
Check whether the driver’s seat moves normally and locks securely in any position without difficulty. Seatbelts should not have any cuts or fraying, should clip in and out without hassle and should retract properly. Be sure to check every seatbelt and not just the drivers.
- Number Plate – Your number plate should be visible at all times.
Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) must also be displayed and legible. This can usually be found on the base of the windscreen or on a metal panel under the bonnet. To be on the safe side, ensure these areas are wiped down before heading for your MOT.
Download your printable MOT checklist here.
What Else Can Fail an MOT Test?
While the above checklist will give your vehicle the best chance of passing its MOT, there are many other parts of your car that could cause a failure if found not to be in working order.
These include but aren’t limited to:
- Car Battery – A leaking battery, or one which looks likely to fall from the carrier will be classed as a “major” defect and will therefore result in an MOT failure.
- Brake fluid – While your brake fluid being low is simply a “minor” defect, if the levels are considerably low, this could be marked as a “major” issue and automatic failure.
- Airbag – If the airbag is missing or obviously defective, this will result in a failure.
Am I Exempt From an MOT?
Whilst the majority of cars are required to have an annual MOT, there are some who may own vehicles that are exempt from this:
- Cars and motorcycles made before 1960
- Goods vehicles powered by electricity and registered before 1st March 2015
- Some classic vehicles
For those who don’t have to worry about getting an MOT, they must declare their vehicle is exempt by completing a V112. Without the completion of this form, owners will not be able to tax their vehicle.
You can download a copy of the V112 form on the GOV.UK website.
Although these vehicles do not legally require an MOT, it is still important that they are kept in roadworthy condition to avoid breakdown or accidents. An annual service will help to keep these vehicles in good condition and avoid costly repairs in the future.
How Can I Find Out When My MOT is Due?
It is easy to check when your next MOT is due. Simply use the GOV.UK tool to enter your vehicle’s registration number and model and your MOT and tax status will be revealed in a matter of seconds.
Can I Drive My Car Without an MOT?
Strictly, no, you cannot drive your car without an MOT. The only time this is acceptable is if you are driving your car to the MOT centre for testing. Bear in mind though that if your vehicle is found not to be roadworthy at this point, you can still be prosecuted and fined.
How Much Does an MOT Cost?
The amount you pay for an MOT depends on the type of vehicle you own. Whilst different garages will charge various prices, there is a maximum fee which can be found on the GOV.UK website.
The maximum fee for a car is currently £54.85 and £29.65 for a motorcycle.
Is it Time for Your MOT?
In following the above checklist, you should now be prepared for your next MOT. At our Autocare centre in Chepstow, we offer free retesting with any remedial work so you can be sure that even in the worst-case scenario, you won’t have to pay twice.
To book an MOT, fill out our request form or call us today on 01291 627 137.