Maximise the chances of your car passing its MOT
28 March 2017
/ Martin Dunne
An annual MOT is mandatory for all vehicles once they reach 3 years of age (from the first registration date). During an MOT, checks are carried out to ensure a vehicle is roadworthy. An MOT won’t uncover any mechanical issues so servicing and general maintenance are still necessary for all vehicles.
Many MOTs failures occur due to simple poor maintenance. By running through the checks outlined in this guide, you could avoid an MOT failure and unnecessary expense.
- Seats and Seatbelts
The driver’s seat should be adjustable, it should be able to move backwards and forwards. All seatbelts should work as intended, including any belts in the middle of the rear of the vehicle. Check by fully extending them and inspecting for any damage. Also, check that they react as expected when tugged hard.
- Lights and Bulbs
Check that all your lights and signals are working. This should include headlights, sidelights, rear lights, brake lights, hazard lights and indicators. Brake lights can be a little difficult if you are on your own but can be checked by reversing up close to a wall or flat surface and applying your brakes. Using your rear-view mirror, you should be able to see if your brake lights come on and off against the wall. Some bulbs can be tricky to replace but most can be changed quite easily even without mechanical knowledge
- Number Plate
There’s a few things to check with the number plate. Firstly, ensure that you have a standard British number plate. It should display the letters and numbers with the correct spacing and in the correct font. Secondly, ensure that the number plate is clean and can be easily read, just give it a wipe to make sure. Thirdly, ensure any lights / bulbs that surround the number plates are working correctly.
Ensure that your tyres are in a safe condition, a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm is legal but anything under 3mm could affect they handling of your car. Also ensure you check the sidewalls of your tyres to ensure they are not damaged as this can also be a reason for MOT failure.
- Windscreen Wipers
Wipers that do not effectively clear water from the screen or leave streaks and / or lines across the wiped area could incur an MOT failure. Wipers can be changed very easily before a test if you think that they might not be working as effectively as they should.
Make sure there is no damage to the windscreen. Any damage over 40mm anywhere on the windscreen will incur a failure. Damage over 10mm in the area that the wipers cover will also incur a failure. Most motor insurance policies cover windscreen damage, so if you notice any damage, check your insurance policy and get it repaired as quickly as possible. If you leave it, it could get worse, especially in winter. If cracks get too big you may end up needing the windcreen replaced, which can be more expensive, even with windscreen cover on your insurance policy.
7. Washer Fluid and Washer Jets
Believe it or not, a lot of failures occur due to a lack of washer fluid. The washer jets should work when tested. The jets should not be blocked and there should be sufficient fluid. If any of the jets do not work, or there is no washer fluid, it will incur an MOT fail.
- Fluid Levels
Check all the fluid levels before an MOT. The checks should include oil, fuel, coolant and washer fluid. While some of these may not be failures on their own, the test centre could refuse a test without sufficient levels to carry out an MOT.
The horn is an essential safety feature on the vehicle and is tested as part of an MOT. Press the horn, it is pretty obvious if it is working or not.
10. Warning Lights
Modern cars tend to tell you if there is something wrong with them. Check the warning lights on the dashboard as some of these, such as an airbag malfunction warning light, may incur an MOT failure.
A lot of the problems that these checks uncover can be fixed with minimal mechanical knowledge. If, however there is something that you are not sure about fixing yourself, tell the garage before your MOT. They can do the work before the test and save you the hassle of having to have those little things fixed before a going through a re-test.
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