Rivervale's 10 Pre-MOT Checks

Rivervale's 10 Pre-MOT Checks

Those of us with a vehicle of a certain age will know there is one time of year we can start to feel a little nervous about our car's wellbeing – MOT time!

There are around 600 different ways your vehicle could fail its annual MOT test and of all vehicles tested 40% do fail. Around 30% of failures relate to lighting in some way, 10% of failures are due to tyre related issues, 9.6% of failures relate to the brakes and 6.6% of cars fail their MOT due to issues relating to the driver's view of the road.

As you are not able to drive your car for your day to day tasks if it fails the MOT, losing a car for a few days could cause a massive inconvenience. It would be advisable to try and fix any problems before your MOT day, so, here is Rivervale’s guide to 10 pre-MOT checks you can do at home…

1. Lights

car headlights

These checks include the indicators, headlights, fog lights and brake lights, so you will need a second person to walk around the car to check all lights are working while these are operated from the driver's seat.

If you find a bulb needs replacing and are not confident to do it yourself, you can stop at your local garage or nearest Halfords we you can buy your bulb and get it fitted.

2. Number plate

The writing on your number plates must be easy to read.  Any dirt obscuring a letter or number is enough to make your car fail the MOT test, so give your car a wash before the MOT if you need to.  The light above the number plate must also be working so your car can be easily identified at night.

number plate

3. Tyres

car tyre

The legal minimum limit for your tyre tread is 1.6 mm although it is generally recommended tyres are changed when the tread reaches 3mm. Making sure your tyres are legal before the MOT gives you more time to find the most appropriate tyres for your vehicle at the best price.

If you are unsure how to test your tyre tread – you can buy a gauge for only a few pounds or use the 20p tyre test as a rough guide.

Read more: Tyre Wear- Everything You Need to Know

4. Seats and Seatbelts

The driver’s seat must be able to move forwards and backwards to allow the driver to achieve the correct driving position where all the pedals can be reached. All seatbelts in the vehicle must be in good working order. To check this make sure you extend the seatbelt fully and look for any damage, also make sure you give a sharp tug on each belt to make sure it locks in the event of an accident.

teddy bear seat belt

5. Windscreen

windscreen chip

Damage anywhere on the windscreen over 40mm will result in an MOT fail, damage in the driver's line of sight over 10mm will result in a fail.  Check your windscreen for any chips or cracks before the MOT and get these repaired.

Any objects in the drivers line of sight which obscure the view out of the windscreen could also cause an MOT fail so removing any stickers or toys hanging from the rear view mirror is a good idea.

6. Windscreen Wipers

Working windscreen wipers are vital in the rainy UK.  If yours are not clearing your windscreen properly you could fail the MOT.  Check the blades are not damaged in any way and make sure you replace if needed.

Your wipers have no hope of clearing the screen if you have no screenwash, so make sure you top it up before the MOT.  You can buy screen wash at most petrol stations, Halfords and even the supermarket so you should never run out.


7. Horn

car horn

It is rare for a driver to need to use the horn.  It is intended to be used only in emergency situations, but it needs to be in full working order for your car to pass the MOT.  Double check this before the day of your MOT and if there are any problems these will need to be sorted out prior to the test.

Read more: A Guide to Your Diesel Particulate Filter

8. Fuel and Engine Oil Levels

Make sure both your oil and fuel are topped up.  In order for your car to pass an MOT test it must be left running for a period of time for emissions to be assessed.  If you turn up to your MOT with an empty fuel tank, you may be turned away.


9. Warning Lights

warning lights

As of March 2013 MOT tests now include dashboard warning lights.  You can check if all of yours are working by looking for any not illuminated when you first turn on the engine.

10. Diesel Particulate Filter

As of May 2018 more extensive checks will be made on diesel cars to ensure the particulate filter is present and has not been tampered with.  In the past some garages have removed filters to save car owners the expense of having them cleaned or replaced.  These vehicles could still pass on MOT as the visual check previously in the MOT looked at the casing only without checking the filter was present inside.  Vehicles which have had a filter removed will no longer pass so check yours is present and correct before you attend your MOT.

car exhaust

Remember, without your MOT you could be fined £1,000 so if you are likely to forget when your MOT is due, there is a free reminder service on the gov.uk website and you can also check the MOT history of your car.

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