Any vehicle more than three years old must, by law, pass an annual MOT (Ministry of Transport) test. The test is designed to make sure that vehicles are roadworthy and meet environmental emissions standards.
The DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency) indicates that around 35% 1 of cars fail their annual MOT test first time around with nearly half of all faults avoidable through basic car maintenance.
The most common fails are from faulty lights (30%), damaged or worn tyres (10%), and issues with wipers and washers (8.5%).
Our MOT guide helps you identify any issues in advance and explains how you can potentially solve them before your test, saving you time and money.
How to check when your MOT is due
By entering your registration number on the government website, you can find out when your MOT and tax is due, as well as technical information about your vehicle.
How much is an MOT?
You can get an MOT from an authorised test centre and can charge a maximum of £54.85 for testing a car. However, many places offer deals, such as combined service and MOT packages, so shop around beforehand to get the best price.
What’s checked in an MOT?
When carrying out an MOT test, mechanics will work their way through the DVSA-approved checklist to make sure the following components meet the required standards:
• Wheels and tyres
• Steering and suspension
• Registration plate
• Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
• Wipers and washers
How to avoid failing an MOT
To put your vehicle in the best possible position to pass first time around, below are some checks you can do before you head to the test centre.
Headlights, sidelights, brake lights, indicators and registration plate bulbs must work and be the right colour to pass.
Make sure you clean your lights and check they work properly. If they flicker when tapped, they could be loose or damaged. Bulbs are quite cheap to buy, so it’s worth changing any blown bulbs before your test.
Your vehicle's tyres must all be the same size and inflated to the correct pressure. Also, they shouldn’t have any cuts or other signs of damage.
Make sure that the tread depth of all tyres is above the minimum legal requirement of 1.6mm by carrying out the 20p test.
Wipers and windscreen
Drivers should always have a clear view of the road; so make sure that wipers are in working order, the washer bottle is topped up and the windscreen is in good condition.
If your windscreen wipers are damaged or don’t clean your windows well enough to give you a good view of the road, you should change these before the test.
Topping up washer fluids is easily forgotten, but is one of the top three reasons vehicles fail MOTs.
Under the bonnet
Your vehicle needs to have enough fuel and engine oil to undergo an emissions test.
Making sure these fluids are filled up before an MOT is a must, as garages may turn you away if they aren’t.
Make sure both number plates are in good condition and meet legal requirements set out by the DVLA – such as using correct font and spacing.
Before the test, make sure that your number plates are clean, secured to your vehicle, and all letters and numbers are easily legible from a distance.
We all know the crucial role seatbelts play in terms of road safety, so keeping these working properly is extremely important.
Check that all your seatbelts aren’t damaged or frayed, that they work properly and click into place securely.
What happens if your vehicle fails an MOT?
If your vehicle fails its MOT, the test centre will issue you a ‘refusal of an MOT test certificate’ – otherwise known as a VT30 – and record the fail on the MOT database. You can, however, appeal the decision by filling out a VT17 form if you believe it’s wrong.
Often, if your vehicle fails the MOT and needs work, the test centre will carry out a partial retest for free after the repairs are carried out, as long as it hasn’t left the test centre.
Making sure your MOT is up-to-date is crucial as you be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without valid MOT. It may also void your car insurance, leaving you exposed should the worst happen.