An MOT is a service provided by garages which every car is legally required to have carried out.
A cars roadworthiness will be checked during the MOT as each major component is inspected by a trained professional. A garage has to have authorisation from the DVSA to carry out an MOT as they have to meet the minimum requirement to carry out the inspection.
You don’t need to take your car for an MOT for three years if you buy and register it brand new, however as soon as the three years are up, it is a legal requirement that you take your car for an MOT annually.
Below we have included some useful information on what is checked during your MOT as well as things you can do to increase your chances of passing at the first attempt.
Fuel, Fuel Emissions and Exhaust
The exhaust system is made up of several parts and components which all need to be checked individually. The main issue that mechanics will be looking out for is leakage of fumes or liquid, as these are the most common issues associated with the exhaust system.
There is very little you can do to help your car pass an MOT if there is a problem with this system as a hole cannot be blocked up unless you are a trained professional.
The fuel system will also get checked for leaks however, by checking that the tank cap is sealed properly, you may be able to avoid failing your MOT for a minor issue.
The emissions of a car must fall below specific legal limits which means that if your car produces too much carbon monoxide or hydrocarbons, it will fail its MOT.
You can increase your chances of passing an MOT by addressing the problem before having the service carried out as it is easy to diagnose a problem with your fuel emission levels.
If your exhaust emits excessive blue or black smoke when the engine is switched on and while driving, there is a high chance that there is an issue. By addressing it early you can avoid failing the MOT test.
One in ten cars fail their MOT due to tyre issues. The mechanic will be checking the tread of the tyre when carrying out the MOT as well as looking for damage such as lumps, bulges or tears.
A tyre tread should be at least 1.6mm and be the correct type as they need to be able to maintain the speed and weight of the car while its being driven.
You can use a tread depth gauge to check if your tyres are safe to drive on and whether they will pass the MOT, if the tread is less than 1.6mm, your car will fail.
It is also important to ensure your tyres are fully inflated and the pressure is correct as this is another issue which will likely result in failure.
The parts being checked will consist of windscreen wipers, windscreen, wing mirrors, rear view mirror and windows. It will be obvious that you will fail your MOT if your view of the road around you is impeded.
This could be caused by broken or missing mirrors as well as cracked or heavily chipped windows.
Your rear view mirrors and wing mirrors must be able to move while remaining secure to provide a driver with an adequate view of the road. The wipers and washers are also included in checks as they must be able to clean the windows effectively.
You will fail your MOT if there is damage or an obstruction in your windows bigger than 10mm within the immediate viewing area and 40mm anywhere else.
You can improve your chances of passing your MOT by making sure you buy new wiper blades at least once a year and thouroughly checking all of your windows.
You should also ensure your screen wash reservoir is fully topped up as it will be checked during the MOT.
Body and additional items
A wide ranging inspection will be carried out with the body, engine mountings, seats, doors and chassis. They are required to be completely free of erosion and cannot have any sharp edges which could cause injury.
You must also have your registration plates attached to your car which need to be visible from 20 meters away.
Your car should also be shown to display a vehicle identification number (VIN) which should be etched onto the body or chassis.
The speedometer must also be fully secure and able to light up.
Every seatbelt in the vehicle must be fully functional as this will be checked rigorously by the inspector.
Lamps, electrics and reflectors
Almost a third of all MOT failures are due to light, electrical or reflector failure. The front, rear, brake, fog, indicator, registration plate and reflectors must adhere to the following standards;
- Illuminate with the press or flick of one single button or switch
- Display the correct colour as well as each pair matching in colour of displayed light
- To be able to deliver light despite the presence of other light
- Be unobstructed
- Be in the correct position and completely secure in their housing
- Be in full working condition
- Aim of light should be at correct angle
Make sure to consult your owners handbook before buying a bulb to discover the correct unit.
The horn on your car must also be full working order and be able to deliver a strong uniform note which can be heard by another driver on the road.
The battery in your car will also be checked for leakage and stability within the engine.
Wiring will be inspected for wear and tear and cannot be at the point of breaking.
If you have a towbar for a trailer, the socket will be checked as it must be able to send power to the indicators on the trailer itself.
Steering and Suspension
The mechanic carrying out the MOT will be inspecting the condition of the steering wheels by pushing the steering system in numerous directions as well as assessing the system for damage on specific components.
If your car has a locking devise, this will also be checked when the vehicle is stationary and the engine is not running.
If you have power steering, there must be a correct amount of fluid in the reservoir.
The suspension on your car will be checked visually as the springs and shock absorbers will be inspected for corrosion, distortion or fracture.
We have an in-depth page dedicated to steering and suspension which you can access by clicking here.
The overall condition of your brakes and all of the components that make up the system will be inspected thoroughly.
A specific break test will be performed to ensure your car has the correct stopping power to be on the road.
- A mechanic can refuse to perform an MOT if the car is dirty inside or out as they will have to spend time in and around the vehicle for an extended period, so make sure your car is tidy!
- If your car should fail its MOT, make sure to have the repairs carried out as per their assessments and then return to the same garage as they will not charge you for a full inspection.
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