A car is a lot like a human body, and it requires a lot of ongoing care and maintenance to make sure it’s running well.

If your car is more than three years old, it celebrates this milestone by requiring an MOT test to determine how safe it is and whether it can continue to drive on British roads.

How do you prepare for an MOT? The MOT is performed by a verified centre and checks important components of your vehicle including steering, brakes, suspension, and seatbelts, and deems the car safe or unsafe.

To prepare for it, you’ll want to fix any issues your vehicle has and keep up with general maintenance so you receive a pass.

The MOT is an initiative started by the government to ensure that every car on the road is in good enough condition to be there, and it not only keeps you safe but everyone else as well.

If you’re wondering how to prepare for your MOT test and need some pointers, we’ve covered it all in this simple guide so you’ll be able to pass with flying colours.

What is the MOT Test?

What is the MOT Test?

The MOT or Ministry of Transport test is an annual check performed on every car in the UK to ensure that it’s meeting the road safety standards.

As well as checking for safety, your car will also be evaluated to see that it meets the exhaust emission levels, and then given a pass or fail depending on what’s found.

During the MOT test, a qualified inspector will spend around 45 minutes assessing your vehicle, and these are usually done at standard automotive repair garages and shops.

During the safety checks, they’ll look at all parts of your car including the interior and exterior, ensuring that everything works correctly and there are no pressing safety issues or repairs that need to be carried out.

If anything is found, the issue will be classified as either a minor, major, or dangerous defect, and there will be further guidelines and recommendations about what’s to come next.

Your car will fail to pass the MOT if it has any of these major or dangerous defects, and if a minor defect is found, you’ll likely be given directions to have it fixed immediately or keep an eye on it to see if it gets worse.

The MOT is a useful tool to use when buying a second-hand car as well, as you’re able to check its MOT history on the government website.

This gives you a good idea of whether it’s been looked after or not and can highlight any potential issues you weren’t aware of.

Does My Car Need One?

Does My Car Need One?

The UK government has strict requirements in place as to when a car requires its MOT and this is usually before the anniversary of its last MOT.

New cars under three years old don’t need one, but once the vehicle meets its third anniversary of registration, it will be required.

The purpose of having this annual check-up is to ensure that every vehicle driving in the UK is safe, and no unknown safety issues are lurking.

By implementing mandatory MOT test checks, the government can reduce the risk of accidents and injuries, and make the roads safer for all citizens.

On the UK government official website, there is a table of fees and timetables you can use to determine when your car is due.

You’ll also need to use an approved MOT test centre which can be indicted by a blue sign with three white triangles, or by checking the government website.

To keep things fair and ensure people are being tested, there are strict regulations on the fees charged for an MOT, and each centre must abide by these maximum amounts.

Booking one can usually be done at the same time you have your car serviced, saving you time from having to take it into the shop twice a year.

The MOT Checklist

The MOT Checklist

All MOT assessments are performed using a guideline given by the government, so you can easily prepare for it by knowing what they’re going to look at.

During an MOT, the technician will use the official MOT guidelines to check the following in each of these categories:

  1. Identification: The car will be checked for identifying features to make sure it’s correct before the test starts. This includes the registration plate and vehicle identification number.
  2. Brakes: The condition of the car’s brakes will be tested as well as all components including parking brakes and secondary brakes. Brake fluid, anti-lock braking systems, and electronic braking systems will also be inspected to see that they’re correct.
  3. Steering: The steering wheel and steering column will be checked as well as various parts like forks and yokes. If you have electronic power steering it needs to meet certain rules and the overall mechanical condition of the car’s steering should be in good shape.
  4. Visibility: This part will check that you have good visibility of the driver and it looks at things like windscreen glass, bonnet catches, and windscreen wipers. All have to offer good visibility and parts like washers and wipers must work.
  5. Lamps, reflectors, and electrical equipment: The various electrical components of the car, as well as batteries, should be checked,  including indicators, lamps, lighting, and electrical wiring. All lights within the car need to be in good condition, including brake and reverse lights.
  6. Axles, wheels, tyres, and suspension: The entirety of your wheel and suspension system will be assessed including the suspension joints, shock absorbers, and springs. You’ll also need the tyres, wheels, and axle checked to make sure there’s no unusual wear, damage, or pressure.
  7. Body, structure, and attachments: This part refers to the overall structure of your car including its body, bumpers, doors, seats, and floor. All must be in good condition on the inside and outside of the car to pass.
  8. Other equipment: Within this category are parts like anti-theft devices, airbags, seat belts, speedometers, and electronic stability control systems. These are tested to see that they’re in working order, fitted correctly, and not faulty or damaged.
  9. Nuisance: To ensure your vehicle is not a nuisance to others, there are various checks like noise, exhaust, fluid leakages, and engine management lights. Within this area, the technician will make sure your car meets the vehicle exhaust emission standards as well.
  10. Supplementary tests for buses and coaches: If you drive a bus or coach, there are additional checks that take place, including steps, stairs, and entry and exit doors.
  11. Seat belt installation checks: These additional assessments are performed on vehicles with more than eight passenger seats to determine whether they meet the seatbelt safety standards.

Common Failures of Vehicles

Common Failures of Vehicles

Try as you might to prepare for a test and make sure your vehicle is ready, there are some common failures that everyone experiences.

Recent statistics found that a third of cars failed the MOT test on their first try, and these are some of the most common issues:

  • Indicators, headlights, and front and read lights with blown bulbs;
  • Brake pads that had worn down;
  • Tyres with poor air pressure, irregular wear, or incorrect tread depth;
  • Small cracks in the windshield or obstructions that impacted visibility;
  • Issues with suspension;
  • Lack of power steering fluid;
  • Loose and sharp edges and parts of the car’s body;
  • Twisted and knotted seatbelts or ones that don’t retract when pulled;
  • Dirty exhausts or excess emissions;

Tips to Pass the MOT Test

Tips to Pass the MOT Test

Even the most confident car owner can feel nervous before their MOT, but with a little bit of preparation, you can reduce this anxiety.

Here are some tips to keep in mind before your next MOT that will ensure your car passes with flying colours.

  • Keep on top of scheduled maintenance: It might sound simple enough, but as always, prevention is the best cure. If you keep up with your regular servicing schedule and have the car looked at once a year by a mechanic, there’s a minimal chance something will be picked up during an MOT that they haven’t already seen.
  • Do some simple checks on the vehicle: There are some things you can look at for yourself even if you’re not confident in your mechanical knowledge. Check that all of the lights work inside and outside of the car, check the oil in the engine and top it up, test that the horn works, and give your tyres a once over to see what condition they’re in. If any of these need attention, get it done before the test.
  • Confirm your registration: The first thing an MOT tester will do is look at your registration and plates, so make sure this is up to date and the information is correct. It takes just minutes to do online for yourself and means they can move ahead with the test right away.
  • Have the car cleaned: This might not seem like a big deal when you’re having your car checked for defects but a simple clean inside and out can help. The car won’t fail the MOT because it’s dirty but it does make certain things like number plates and mirrors more visible, as well as giving you a chance to pick up on any last-minute issues you might not have otherwise seen.
  • Look through your windscreen: Even something as small as an 11mm scratch in the wrong spot will mean a failed MOT, and even if you’re used to driving with a minor issue, your MOT centre won’t go for it. Before the test, have someone sit in the driver’s seat and tell you if there are any issues, and make sure you’ve wiped down the glass so visibility is good.
  • Be prepared for failure: Even if you do all you can to prepare and an issue is still found, it’s not the end of the world. Learn your rights and responsibilities so you can be ready for what comes next if you have to deal with defects. If you don’t agree with a failure, you may apply for an appeal with the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). If you believe that the MOT certificate isn’t genuine, this can be checked online via the UK gov website.

Safety and Peace of Mind With the MOT

Although the MOT is a requirement from the government, it’s also a great tool for car owners to keep an eye on potential issues and the safety of their vehicle.

With a few simple checks each year, you’re guaranteed a safer driving experience and will feel peace of mind that others on the road are doing the same.

Related Questions

The annual MOT test is all about ensuring Britain’s roads are safe, and it’s the easiest way to remind yourself to keep up with your car’s general maintenance.

There’s a lot to be mindful of when you own a car, so read on to see some FAQs about what else you have to know.

Can You Book an MOT And Service At The Same Time?

Can You Book an MOT And Service At The Same Time?

As both MOT and servicing are required annually, some garages allow you to book them at the same time.

Usually, a basic service will be performed first to fix any issues that the MOT might pick up, but there’s no need to have any major form of servicing done as part of your annual scheduled check-up.

How Much Does an MOT Test Cost?

The cost of an MOT assessment will depend on the car and technician, but there is a maximum amount that these MOT centres are allowed to charge. Usually, you’ll pay around

£50 for the test on a younger vehicle and up to £80 on a standard vehicle that’s more than eight years old.


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