How to Prepare Your Car for a MOT

It is a legal requirement in the UK for all vehicles over 3 years old to have a valid MOT certificate. MOT test stands for Ministry of Transport test which is an annual test that checks the safety of a vehicle and its roadworthiness. A MOT can be conducted by thousands of test centres across the UK and can take around 45 – 60 minutes, depending on if your vehicle passes or fails.

What do MOT Test Centres in the UK Provide?

MOT test centres in the UK are legally not allowed to let you drive a vehicle that has failed its MOT as it is deemed dangerous on the road. Generally, once the faults have been fixed and your car has passed its MOT test, you can drive away. During a MOT test, a whole range of checks on your vehicle are performed including brakes, fuel, exhaust system, lights and more.

Is your car MOT due? Unsure if your car will pass? Not to worry, UK Car Finance look at the different ways in which you can perform basic checks at home to prepare your car for its annual MOT!

2018 MOT changes

In May 2018, new MOT rules were introduced by the UK government which includes stricter rules for diesel drivers, new fault categories and changes to the MOT certificate. There are now 6 categories that reflect the severity of a fault. There are now two ‘fail’ categories which are dangerous and major and 3 ‘pass’ categories which are minor, advisory and pass.

There are also stricter rules for diesel drivers and emissions from diesel particulate filters (DPF). Your vehicle will now get a major fault if during the MOT test there is smoke of any colour coming from the exhaust or if they find evidence that the DPF has been tampered with.

New items which are tested during your MOT include:

New MOT tests include these items
  • Underinflated tyres
  • Contaminated brake fluid
  • Fluid leaks that pose environmental risk
  • Brake pad warning lights and missing brake pads or discs
  • Reversing lights on vehicles from 1st September 2009
  • Headlight washers on vehicles from 1st September 2009 (if applicable)
  • Daytime running lights on vehicles from 1st March 2018

The way your MOT certificate is been designed has also changed. It is now easier to understand with any defects under the new categories which have been introduced in 2018.

What About My MOT If I Drive an Old Vehicle?

If you also have a vehicle such as a car van or motorcycle which is over 40 years old, you may not need a MOT certificate. Vehicles that have not been substantially changed or modified won’t need a MOT from the 40th anniversary of when they were registered or manufactured. However, when you tax your vehicle you do have to declare that it meets the rules for not needing a MOT.

How to prepare you vehicle for a MOT

automobile car check

There are a few easy checks you can do yourself at home before you send your car off for its MOT. Many of the checks that your mechanic will undertake are pretty straight forward so save yourself money and the MOT time by preparing your car.

  • Sound the horn to make sure it’s working.
  • Windscreen wipers work and are in good condition
  • Windscreen wash is topped up
  • Seatbelts work and aren’t frayed or cut
  • All engine management lights come on when starting the engine and then go off after a few seconds
  • Turn on your hazard lights, fog lights, number plate lights and headlights then walk round the car and check they are all working
  • Have someone check your brake light is working when compressed or park near a window or wall and press the pedal down and look out for the reflection.
  • Repeat this step for both indicators
  • Check all your mirrors for any damage
  • No bulges or cuts on the sidewalls of tyres
  • Nothing stuck in tyres
  • The tread depth is 1.6mm deep. You can test this using a 20p coin. Pop the coin in the groove that runs around the tyre. If you can see the rim marking, your tyre needs replacing
  • Make sure your tyre pressure is topped up but not over inflated
  • Check that your spare tyre is also road legal
  • Make sure your registration plate is visible
  • Check that your handbrake is working and is tight enough
  • Check that your exhaust is secure and free from corrosion
  • Inspect the filler cap and seal for any damage
  • Give your car a clean inside and out to make it presentable

What if you fail your MOT?

According to data from the DVSA, nearly 37% of drivers fail their MOT test each year. But don’t panic, it’s not the end of the world and there are options afterwards and how to get on the road as quickly as possible. In the event of a failed MOT, you will be given a VT30 ‘Refusal of a MOT Test Certificate’ which will indicate the reasons why your vehicle didn’t pass.

For your vehicle to be roadworthy again and legal to drive, you will need have the reasons for refusal fixed and then have your vehicle retested. You can only drive your vehicle away if your current MOT certificate before the fail result is in date or if no ‘dangerous’ problems were listed in the MOT. You have a few options after a failed MOT test which include:

  • Appeal your MOT result. If you feel like you have been unfairly given a fail result, you can appeal it at with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
  • Get it fixed. If the test centre also provides repairs, you can ask them to fix the issues that caused a failure and if the repairs are within 10 working days, the MOT provider can do a partial retest. To avoid such issues make sure to get your car serviced on time. This is where they only test the issues that you originally failed for.
  • Retest within one working day. You dint have to have your car repaired by the MOT centre, you can sue another garage or mechanic to repair your car and bring it back within one working day for a free partial retest.
  • Retest within 10 working days. If you choose to take your car elsewhere and have it fixed within 10 working days, you can get a partial retest done for a small fee.
  • After 10 working days. After this point, once any repairs have been made you will be charged the full price of a full MOT again.

About the author: UK car Finance are a car finance provider based in the North East of England. They help people every day get the car finance package that’s right for you. Using intelligent features such as their car finance checker, applicants can check their eligibility for car finance without harming their credit score! They also provide many thought leadership pieces across the UK on all things motoring, finance and business related.

Hatice Degirmenci