When your car reaches the age of three, you’ll need to make sure it goes for its annual MOT. The test isn’t expensive (it should cost no more than £54.85 for cars and £29.65 for motorbikes), but it’s a legal requirement. While a fail isn’t the end of the world, as it’s usually just a question of some simple fixes before re-testing, there’s plenty you can do to make sure your car passes first time.
New MOT rules
There are new categories which drivers will have to understand when it comes to defects, these are:
- Dangerous – Direct risk to road safety or the environment. Results in a fail.
- Major – Could affect safety or the environment. Results in a fail.
- Minor – No effect on safety, but should be repaired as soon as possible.
- Advisory – Could have an effect in future.
- Pass – Meets the current legal standards.
Here’s what the MOT covers
During an MOT, the garage will look at numerous aspects of your car – everything except the gearbox, clutch and engine. The MOT checklist covers the following main areas.
The garage will look at the overall condition of your car, looking for areas of rust, damage and leaks, right down to checking that the registration plate is in good, legible condition. Inside, they’ll check the condition and security of the seats and seatbelts, as well as the rear view mirrors inside and out. They’ll also check that everything works as it should – even the horn!
Cracks or chips bigger than 10mm will cause your car to fail its MOT if they’re in front of the driver or within the area covered by the windscreen wipers. Elsewhere on the windscreen, they can be up to 40mm. The wipers will need to be in good condition and working effectively, too, and the washers must be working and with sufficient screenwash.
Your tyres will be inspected to ensure they meet the minimum tread requirement of 1.6mm, and to make sure there aren’t any cracks, bulges or other damage. Your tyres will also be checked to see if they are under inflated.
These all need to be working correctly, even down to the little lights on the number plate. They’ll check the main and dipped beams are working, as well as all the indicator lights, brake lights, reverse lights (for vehicles newer than 2009), daytime running lights (for vehicles newer than 2018), hazard lights and fog lights.
Your brake fluid will be checked to make sure it in not contaminated. Brakes will also be checked for missing brake pads or discs, and brake pad warning lights will be checked to make sure they are operational.
Perhaps surprisingly, the MOT is a test of emissions as well as the safety and condition of your car. Your car’s exhaust emissions will be tested to ensure they’re within the prescribed limits.
Common reasons your car might fail its MOT
While a fail sounds like bad news, the reasons for MOT failures are often simple to prevent. According to What Car? Magazine, the most common reasons include the car being dirty or cluttered, the screenwash not being topped up, and the registration plate either dirty, missing or in a font that isn’t approved.
These are all easy to fix before your car goes in for its MOT, as is another common reason: stickers (such as parking permits) in the driver’s line of sight on the windscreen. While there may not be much you can do about a warning light on the dashboard, you can at least make sure your car is clean, tidy and with sufficient screenwash before you take it to the garage, giving your car the best possible chance of a first-time pass.