Will your car pass its MOT?
Listed below are the main elements of the MOT test. Nearly half of all faults found on MOTs could be avoided by carrying out simple maintenance, so it’s worthwhile checking items like lights, wiper blades and tyres beforehand so that your vehicle has the best chance of passing first time!
Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment
30% of all MOT faults relate to lighting and signalling
Front, rear, brake, fog, indicator and registration plate lights and rear reflectors must:
- Be correctly positioned and secure
- Not be obscured
- Be in good condition
- Show the correct colour (a bluish tinge to front headlights is acceptable as long as the predominant colour is white)
- Not be adversely affected by the operation of any other light
- Illuminate with a single operation of the switch
Pairs of lights must emit light of the same colour, size and shape.
Headlight aim (both dip beam and main beam) should be below the horizontal, so as not to dazzle other drivers.
The horn must emit a continuous uniform note and must be loud enough to be heard by another road user.
The battery must be secure and not show any signs of leaking electrolyte.
Wiring should be secure and must not be damaged to the point where it is likely to short circuit or become detached.
Vehicles with a towbar
Any electrical socket will be tested for its condition and that it correctly operates the trailer parking lights, brake lights, indicators and rear fog lights.
Check before your test
Before your test, have someone walk around your vehicle to check each of the lights while you operate them from the driver’s seat.
Steering and suspension
The tester will check the strength and condition of the steering wheel by pushing the steering in various directions and inspecting for wear or damage to the steering components.
If your steering has a locking device, it’ll be tested to ensure it only locks when the engine is not running.
Vehicles with power steering must have at least the minimum level of power steering fluid in the reservoir.
Suspension components and shock absorbers will be checked for excessive corrosion, distortion and fractures.
9.6% of MOT fails are due to brake issues
The overall condition of the brakes, pedals and levers are inspected, as well as any relevant warning lights.
A brake performance test will be carried out to test brake efficiency.
Tyres and road wheels
10% of all MOT faults are related to tyres
The tyre must be of an appropriate speed and load rating for the vehicle. More information »
Tread depth must not be below the legal limit of 1.6mm, and tyres will be examined for cuts in excess of 25mm, lumps, bulges, tears, exposure of the cord and tread separation.
For vehicles with run-flat tyres, the warning light must operate correctly.
Road wheels must be in good general condition.
Check before your test
Use a 20 pence coin to check that your tread depth is at least 1.6mm. Also check your tyre pressure and look for any signs of damage.
Seat belts and restraint systems
Each seat belt (including the attachment and adjustment fittings) will be checked for its security and condition.
Body, structure and general items
A general inspection is made of the body, chassis, engine mountings, seats and doors. All components must be free from excessive corrosion and must not have any sharp edges that might cause injury.
A registration plate must be fitted at the front and rear. The plates must be secure and clearly legible to someone standing 20 metres away from the car.
The characters on the plate must be correctly formed and spaced and not likely to be misread.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
Every vehicle must permanently display a legible VIN, either on a VIN plate secured to the vehicle, or stamped or etched on the body or chassis.
A speedometer must be fitted, and the tester will check that it can be illuminated. It does not matter if the dial glass is cracked as long as the speed can be read.
Exhaust, fuel and emissions
The exhaust system will be inspected to ensure it is secure and doesn’t leak. If your vehicle was originally fitted with a catalytic converter, it must still be present.
The fuel system will be checked for leaks and the tank cap must seal properly.
The tester will use a gas analyser probe while the engine is running to test the smoke emitted from the exhaust. Emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons must fall within the legal limit.
The tester will make a visual check for excessive dense blue or black smoke emitted from the exhaust, which is a cause for MOT failure.
Driver’s view of the road
6.6% of MOT fails are due to issues with the driver’s view of the road
Mirrors and wipers
Rear view mirrors and wing mirrors must be secure and provide adequate views to the rear and side.
Wipers and washers must sweep a wide enough area to give the driver an adequate view of the road
In the area of the windscreen directly in front of the driver, there must not be any damage or obstruction to the view larger than 10mm. Outside this area (but within the swept area), there must not be any damage or other obstruction larger than 40mm.
Check before your test
Check that your screenwash is topped up, your wiper blades are in good working order and that there is no significant damage to your windscreen.