All cars more than three years old require a yearly MOT test to ensure the vehicle is still roadworthy. Tests should be carried out at a reliable garage such as BGS. If the vehicle fails the MOT, it needs to be repaired to conform to roadworthy standards. Many of the checks in an MOT are basic, so even if you aren’t familiar with car maintenance, it is possible to perform a pre-MOT check. This check will reduce any chance (and inconvenience) of failure.
1: The General Checks
Certain items are considered ‘general checks’ in an MOT. To improve your chance of passing the MOT, you should do the following:
- Ensure the windscreen washers and wipers are operative
- Ensure the screenwash is filled
- Check the rubber blades on the windscreen wipers are not damaged. Damage can be experienced if the wiping edge or loose strips have pieces missing. If chunks are missing, it is recommended that you replace the runner blades.
- All seat belts need to be working correctly without any sign of cuts or fraying
- All mountings need to be secure with straps free from any damage. The belts should also be cleaned.
- Ensure that the inertia reel of a seat belt works properly. Test this by pulling on the strap and reviewing whether or not it locks in the reel.
2: The Tyres
To inspect the car’s tyres, you should walk around the vehicle and view all four. When checking the tyres, it is crucial to consider these elements:
- Ensure no cuts or bulges can be seen on the sidewalls, and no objects are stuck in the tyre tread
- The tread must measure a minimum of 1.6 mm deep. To measure the tread, you can use either a tread depth gauge or the edge of a 20 pence coin. Place the gauge or coin between the grooves running around the tyre. If the rim of the tyre rim stands proud around the edge of the coin, then the tyres need to be replaced.
- Ensure the tyre matches the opposite tyre regarding axle size and construction type
- If the vehicle has a spare tyre, the tyre needs to be roadworthy.
3: The Lights
Lighting is considered one of the most common failure points of an MOT test. For pre-checks, you should ensure the following:
- The exterior bulbs are operative
- Each of the light lenses is free of damage or cracks
- All headlights, front lights, rear lights, front and rear fog lights, stop lights, indicators and number plate lights are damage-free and operative.
4: The Bodywork
- The vehicle must not have any sharp edges that could be a danger to pedestrians
- All bumpers must be secure
- The interior of the car must be accessible from all doors – both the outside and the inside locks.
5: The Brakes
While it is not possible to check the brakes effectively without specialist equipment, it is recommended that you check the following:
- Review the fluid level in the brake system’s reservoir. This is found beneath the car bonnet, and the fluid should be between ‘min’ and ‘max’. For details on where to find the reservoir, check the vehicle handbook.
- Pull up the handbrake. If you need to pull the lever too far up with a lot of clicks, this is a sign the handbrake cable needs adjustment.
- If the handbrake can be quickly released by tapping the level, you will need to tighten the handbrake cable.
6: The Steering
Similar to the brake checks, it can be challenging to review steering without special equipment. However, steering can be checked in the following ways:
- Check for any abnormal movements when turning. If abnormal movements are noticed, this could be wear in the steering wheel’s column support.
- Check if the steering wheel makes any noises when turning from full lock to full lock
- Check for excessive noise from the steering pump, which could be a sign of worn components.
7: The Shock Absorbers
- The shock absorbers or damper must not have a difference in absorbing pressure or any leaks
- Bounce a corner of the vehicle to determine if the shock absorbers are faulty in any way.
- Vehicles must be able to experience low pressure, then raise the pressure to full height before settling. If there is continuous bouncing, it may be indicative of worn-out dampers.
8: The Mirrors and Windscreen
Small chips in the windscreen may not result in MOT failure, but it is crucial to consider the following:
- The windscreen swept by wipers must not show any chips or cracks
- Any damage to the windscreen cannot be larger than 10 mm in diameter
- All mirrors need to be fixed securely with glass in good condition.
9: The Exhaust
- A vehicle’s exhaust must be free from corrosion and secure
- No abnormal noises or rattles should be heard when revving the engine
- The car must not produce any smoke, or it will fail the emissions test.