The MOT is a legal requirement for all cars over three years old, but around 40 percent of cars fail the test at the first attempt.
Data shows that around half of all faults could have been avoided by carrying out some simple checks before the MOT test. Indeed, 30 percent of faults found during a test relate to lighting and signalling.
It pays to do a little homework before you send your car to be tested, then. Although you won’t be able to fix everything at home, you’ll give your car the best chance of passing first time.
Remember, the MOT test doesn’t cover the condition of the engine, clutch and gearbox. It’s not a replacement for having your car serviced. Instead, it’s a check that your car meets the current legal standards.
Car parts tested in the MOT
This image provided by the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) is a good place to start. It should provide a visual reminder of the things to consider in the weeks leading up to the MOT test.
Beyond that, you need to pay close attention to the following parts and features:
- Body and vehicle structure
- Make sure the body and structure are free from excessive corrosion or damage. Any sharp edges are likely to result in a fail.
- Tow bars
- The tow bar will be inspected for security, condition and any inappropriate repairs. Make sure the 13-pin electrical socket is working correctly.
- Fuel system
- The fuel system will be inspected to check for leaks and that the pipes and hoses are secure. Also make sure the fuel cap fastens and secures – don’t forget to supply a key (if necessary).
- Exhaust emissions
- Emissions-related test failures have nearly doubled since an overhaul of the MOT test in 2018. Diesel vehicles are at greatest risk of failure.
- Exhaust system
- The exhaust system must be secure and complete, the catalyst must be in place, and there shouldn’t be any serious leaks.
- Seatbelts must be in place, suitable for the vehicle, working properly and attached securely. The tester will also check the airbag, seatbelt pretensioner and seatbelt load limiter warning lights.
- The driver’s seat must be adjustable, while all seats must be securely fitted with the seat backs in the upright position.
- Check that the latches secure in the closed position, the front doors open from the inside and outside, and the rear doors open from the outside. Also check the condition of the hinges.
- Check the condition and security of the mirrors.
- Load security
- The tester will check that the boot or tailgate can be closed properly.
- The brakes must pass an efficiency test, while the anti-locking braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) must function (where fitted). The ABS, ESC, handbrake and brake fluid lights will also be checked.
- Tyres and wheels
- The tyres must be of the right size and type, have the minimum tread depth, and be in good condition. The tyre pressure monitoring system must be working on cars registered on or after 1 January 2012.
- Registration plates
- The number plates must be in good condition, secured to the vehicle, be of the right colour, with characters correctly formed and spaced.
- All lights must be working and in good condition. The headlights will also be checked for aim and the main beam warning light must be working.
- The bonnet must close securely.
- Wipers and washers
- The driver must have a clear view of the road.
- The windscreen will be checked for condition. The driver must have a clear view of the road.
- The horn must work and be suitable for the vehicle.
- Steering and suspension
- These elements will be checked for their condition, the steering oil level, inappropriate repairs or modifications, corrosion to pipes and hoses, and the steering lock.
- Vehicle identification number (VIN)
- The VIN will be checked on vehicles first used on or after 1 April 1980. Some multi-stage build vehicles are exempt.
Click here for more MOT information, including how to book a test.