How To Pass Your MOT Test & Avoid Fails with Basic Car Maintenance
What is an MOT?
An MOT is a Ministry Of Transport test that is undertaken on vehicles yearly. These tests measure the roadworthiness, exhaust emissions and safety levels needed to legally drive a car in the UK. It is against the law to drive a vehicle without MOT, and without MOT your insurance becomes void, as declared by The Road Traffic Act 1988.
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You take pride in looking after your body. You do everything you can to prevent the creaks, moans and groans that go hand in hand with everyday life. From drinking water to going to sleep, we do everything we can to stop our bodies from breaking down – so why should we treat our car any different? Whether you rely on your Audi everyday for a lengthy commute, you’ve got a Ford KA sat in the drive or you have a Mercedes that helps you get that never ending list of jobs done, they all need a little TLC to stay reliant.
Yet 40% of all cars fail the first attempt of an MOT due to simple issues that could have been sorted beforehand.
Unfortunately this is down to many drivers relying on their car’s MOT to highlight simple maintenance issues, that are easy to fix outside of the garage. 50% of all faults and issues found in MOT tests could have been avoided by drivers using basic car maintenance. Not only do these problems cost you time, they can cost a shocking amount of money to rectify as well. For example, something as simple as failing to check pressure and tread depth of tyres regularly can be a massive hinderance in the future – so, save yourself some money and start giving your car a little love.
Afterall, it gets you to where you need to be.
How to pass an MOT test checklist:
- Lighting & signals
- Washers, wipers & mirrors
1. Lighting and Signals
One out of five MOT failures are due to simple problems with a vehicle’s lighting and signalling, but if you check your car’s brake lights monthly, you’ll be able to spot any potential issues. Avoid being part of the 18.4% of fails due to electrical and lamp faults by taking a few seconds to see if everything is working. This can be done by someone telling you what is working, or by parking in front of a reflective surface (ensuring it is safe to do so) and switching on your lights.
Changing a light-bulb or reflector is an easy and cost effective way to prevent you car failing its MOT – some garages with charge anything from £150 onwards to replace a headlamp, when in reality is can cost as little as £10 to do so. You should check;
- Dipped beam
- Main beam
- Fog lights
- DRLs (daytime running lights)
- All of the above
- Reversing light – another one that’s easier with an assistant. Shift into reverse and the white light should come on.
- Number plate light – your number plate should also be illuminated while you’re driving in the dark. Make sure that this one’s still working too!
Other things to check:
- Side repeaters
- The horn (warn anyone around you to avoid shock and panic)
9.6% of MOTs fail because of brakes needing servicing and not knowing what to look for when it comes to checking your brakes is crucial. After all, you need to be able to stop safely, should an emergency arise.
Before you leave for a long journey you should always check your brakes, and this can be done from inside the car. Simply test your brakes as you set off, and if they feel spongy, slack, make noises or your car pulls to one side then you should find a local garage to see what’s happening.
Here is an article about how to tell if your brakes need servicing.
Checking your brake fluid level is a cost effective and easy way to avoid failing your MOT – all you need to do is check the high and low markings in the brake fluid reservoir and ensure it is topped up! Just remember, different vehicles have their reservoirs in different places – a Ford Focus’s will not be in the same place as a VW Passat!
If your brakes aren’t regularly checked, you could end up forking out for more problems further down the line. Faulty brakes are a major contributor to car accidents, and if it is down to poor maintenance, then you may be to blame.
3. Washers, Wipers and Mirrors
Distorting your view when driving is very dangerous, so ensure to remove any dangling air fresheners, toys on the dashboard and anything else that may cause distraction when driving. 8.5% of MOT failures are down to the washers, wipers and mirrors of a car. Dirty mirrors, battered windscreen wipers and blocked car washer jets are all problems that can be prevented in a few steps.
- Check your washer jets by turning them off and listening for a low hum. If the jets aren’t spraying but there is a low hum, then your pumps need to be unclogged. If you can’t hear the hum then your pump needs to be replaced. You can unclog your washers by wiping away any external blockages, and removing internal blockages with a pin – if it is safe to do so of course!
- You can try to replace windscreen wipers yourself at get it done rapidly at any car shop or garage. On the majority of cars all you have to do is slide the wiper out of its casing – just make sure to take your old wipers into the shop so that you purchase the right size! Garages charge an average of £126.41 to repair and replace your car’s windscreen wipers, or you could try replacing it on your own.
- Clean your rear view mirrors and exterior mirrors regularly with glass and window cleaner and a cloth.
10% of MOT failures are down to the car’s tyres, but there are four simple steps that go into maintaining them. A single tyre fitting costs an average of £101.66, so making sure you get the most mileage out of them is very important. You can do this by:
Checking the car’s tyre pressure
Checking your car’s tyre pressure should be done monthly, and before you go on long journeys. Make sure your tyres are not hot when checking them as this adds up to five PSI to the recommended pressure. The correct tyre pressure for every vehicle is different, simply check the user manual, the fuel cap or label on the door to find out what your car’s should be.
Checking each tyre’s tread depth
Tyre tread helps remove water between the tyre and road, making sure your car stays in control and prevents the risk of aquaplaning and skidding. Uneven surfaces, poor tyre design and hapless driving will cause tyre tread to wear out over time. The minimum tread depth should be 1.6mm. You can measure the depth of tread with 20p. If the outer band of the coin is covered by the tyre, then your tyre is above the required limit.