Home | Motoring Guides | How do I prepare for an MOT?
How do I prepare for an MOT

How do I prepare for an MOT?

The words MOT Test can strike fear into most motorist's heart. But it's easy to overlook that MOTs exist for our protection, as it provides the only statutory test for safety and environmental legislation for all road vehicles. It's best to view the annual MOT test as a sensible opportunity to have your vehicle examined by an expert, ensuring that it meets all safety and legal requirements.

Top Tip: The minimum tread depth required on your tyres is 1.6mm

The MOT was introduced in 1959 and initially was only required for cars aged 10 years or older, this has now been reduced to three years. Since 1995, the MOT has also included a check of exhaust emissions to ensure that cars are not polluting our air excessively.

Top Tips to Prepare Your Vehicle

So, what can you do to ensure your car passes? Before taking your car in for the dreaded check-up, why not run through this checklist as suggested by a qualified MOT tester:

Starting in the interior, check the following:

  • Are the seats securely mounted?
  • Are the seatbelts frayed and does the mechanism work correctly?
  • Is there any damage to the steering wheel or too much free movement when you gently turn the wheel a few inches in each direction when the car is parked?
  • Is the boot clear so an inspector can open it and inspect under the mat for rust or structural damage?
  • Are there any cracks or chips in the windscreen? (Cracks or chips in the driver's line of sight must not be larger than 10mm. Out of the driver's field of view, 40mm is the limit.)
  • Are all the rear-view mirrors intact and clean?

Once you've made a note of anything to repair, it's time to check exterior items:

  • Is the car reasonably clean? (Garages won't test VERY dirty cars.)
  • Are all lights working and not damaged in any way?
  • If the car has a rear fog light, is it working and does the warning light in the switch or on the dashboard function as well?
  • Do all tyres have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm?
  • Is either registration plate cracked or obscured?
  • Is the chassis/VIN number plate easily found (and legible)?

Now for the under-bonnet and mechanical checks:

  • Is the horn working properly?
  • Does the fuel cap fit securely?
  • Is the screen washer bottle topped up?
  • Are the headlights correctly aligned?
  • Are there any leaks in the exhaust system? (You can usually hear the system 'blowing' from outside the car.)
  • Are the brakes and handbrake in perfect working order? (There must not be excessive pedal movement before the brakes start to 'bite'.)
  • Are all the controls, such as indicators and switches up to scratch?

It is recommended giving the car a reasonably long run (say 10-15 miles) before taking it to the test station. This will ensure the catalytic converter, if one is fitted, is up to temperature and working properly. Diesel cars and cars without a catalytic converter also benefit from a pre-test run as emissions are usually lower once the engine is up to the correct operating temperature.

The MOT test has been designed to be as customer friendly as possible and every testing station has a viewing area near the test bay so you can see the test taking place. This also enables you to discuss any problems or failure items with the tester so you're fully aware of required repairs or possible future problems.

Top Tip: Take your car for a 10-15 mile drive immediately prior to the MOT to ensure that the catalytic converter is up to temperature and working properly ahead of the emissions test.

The RMI Consumer Motorline on 08457 585 350 (local rates) will give you the names of reliable garages in your area or you can check online. Asking a relative or friend who they use is always a good idea. However, checking your car over like this should be a regular routine, which will help you maintain your car in good order for your own safety and that of other road users.

But, remember: the MOT is not there to reduce your driving pleasure. It's there to reassure you that you're at the wheel of a smooth-running vehicle that will make motoring more enjoyable, cleaner and above all – safer.

...back to all Motoring Guides