In the UK, more than 34% of cars and vans fail their MOT in the first attempt, according to figures from the DVSA (Gov.uk MOT testing data, up to 5th April 2018).
Failing your MOT test is not only inconvenient, but it can also be very expensive as you have to pay for problems to be fixed before it can pass. However, if you as the driver carry out regular maintenance on your car, van or motorcycle using a pre-MOT checklist, you could avoid some of the most common MOT fails and keep your vehicle road-ready.
If you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry. We’ve answered some of your most-asked questions about MOTs and put together a quick and simple MOT checklist with 10 key things to check before your MOT to help your vehicle to pass with flying colours.
What is an MOT and what does it stand for?
In the UK, all vehicles over three years old legally require an MOT test and MOT certificate each year to make sure that they are safe to drive on the roads. MOT stands for Ministry of Transport; a full-service check of a car, van or motorbike carried out by an MOT expert.
What is checked on an MOT?
An MOT test is a thorough, full-service assessment of a vehicle, covering everything from vehicle safety to roadworthiness and emissions. The vehicle will be checked against a vehicle inspection checklist by a trained technician. To pass, it must meet all MOT criteria and regulations.
What to bring to an MOT? What documents do you need?
You don’t need to bring many documents to your MOT test. If your vehicle has had an MOT before, bring your V5C vehicle registration document, but if it is a new car, don’t worry about this. If you can’t find this form, don’t panic, as the centre should be able to find your details on online.
What happens if your car fails an MOT?
If your vehicle fails its MOT test, it will not receive an MOT certificate and cannot legally be driven on the roads.
The test centre will give you a VT30 'Refusal of an MOT Test Certificate'. Keep hold of this as it will outline the reason/s for the MOT failure. Then, contact your local professional car service centre, show them the VT30 and they will resolve any issues as soon as possible. You can then book an MOT retest.
Driving without a valid MOT is illegal and could result in fines, points added to your license or a driving ban.
Your MOT Checklist
To give your vehicle the best chance of passing, we’ve put together a pre-MOT checklist, full of easy things to check before your MOT test.
1. Headlights and Indicators
Ensure that all of your headlights and indicators are working properly before your MOT test. This includes fog lights, hazard lights, sidelights and rear lights. The alignment of headlights will also be checked during the test to make sure they do not blind oncoming traffic.
If you find any problems, simply contact a car service centre like Eurorepar for beam alignment and bulb replacements.
2. Brake Lights
Check that your brake lights are working by asking a friend to stand in a safe place behind your car and pressing your foot on the brake pedal. If they can see your brake lights come on, then they are working correctly.
3. Wheels and Tyres
Tyres are one of the most common reasons for failing an MOT test, so it’s worth doing a pre-MOT check on these. Carefully inspect your tyres to make sure that they are all securely fitted to the vehicle. Look for any cuts or bulges on the wheels and inspect the rims for any damage, too.
You should also double-check the tyre tread depth. The minimum legal tread depth for tyres is 1.6mm, but safety experts often recommend 3mm. You can check this with a tread depth gauge, or with a 20p coin. As the coin is about 2mm wide, simply insert it into the tread groove on the tyre and if you can’t see the outer ring of the coin, then your tyres are above the 1.6mm minimum. If you can see the outer ring, your tyres need replacing as soon as possible.
We recommend that you thoroughly check your windscreen for any cracks or chips. Chips in the driver’s line of vision have to be less than 10mm to pass the MOT test. Other cracks on the windscreen can be up to 40mm. Also, remove any air fresheners or satnavs that may be obstructing your view.
5. Windscreen Wipers
During an MOT, your windscreen wipers will be thoroughly tested to ensure that they can spray enough liquid onto the windscreen and clear your view when driving in the rain. So, it’s good to test them beforehand, including checking the rubber blades.
6. Screen Wash
It seems trivial, but did you know that having an empty screen wash container can result in an MOT failure? Most reputable garages will top you up and bill you for the fluid, but we recommend checking it anyway and filling it up if need be. Better safe than sorry.
7. Fuel and Engine Oil
Did you know that testers can refuse to test vehicles with low fluids? We recommend making sure your vehicle has enough fuel in the tank, as the MOT technician will run the engine for a few minutes to carry out the fuel emissions tests. Also, check your oil level by seeing where it comes up to on the dipstick and fill it up if its low. It only takes a few minutes.
8. Number Plate
Vehicle number plates are under strict regulations so that they can be easily read and display the number correctly. Make sure that yours is clean and legible before your MOT test. It’s also worth checking that it complies with the current legal vehicle registration format. It goes without saying that non-regulation number plates won’t pass.
9. Brake Pads
Can you hear a squealing sound when you brake? It might mean that your brake pads need replacing. We don’t need to tell you how important brakes are for your safety, so getting this sorted before your MOT means you remain safe on the road and your vehicle will have the best chance of passing its test. Eurorepar offers expert brake, pad and disc replacements and repairs.
10. Service Your Vehicle
The final point in our pre-MOT checklist is perhaps the most important. The best way to pass your MOT is to have your car, van or motorbike regularly serviced so that you can keep on top of any problems and maintain a road-worthy vehicle.
Eurorepar’s car service offers professional MOT tests for all kinds of vehicles. If your vehicle fails the MOT test, but we’re able to carry out any repairs on-site, we’ll carry out a re-test free of charge. Find your nearest centre or book an appointment online today with a qualified technician.