In the colourful parlance of the motor trade, an MOT test certificate is called a ‘ticket’. A tax disc is referred to as ‘money on the glass’ and since you can’t buy the latter without owning the former, making sure your car passes its MOT test is essential to keeping it – and you – on the road. Car tyres, unsurprisingly, are candidates for inspection.
Once your car’s passed its third birthday, an MOT test becomes a yearly occurrence. What is the test for? Easy: it is to ensure that your car meets road safety and environmental standards. Should it not meet them, it’ll fail the test, which can be an expensive shortcoming. However, knowing what is tested helps in making sure a pass is within reach.
Let’s begin with the obvious, the car’s wheels and tyres. The tyres must be the right kind, have no excessive wear or damage and have a minimum of 1.6mm of tread. All the wheel nuts must be present and correctly tightened. Oddly, the spare tyre isn’t subject to inspection.
The car’s wheels and tyres naturally can’t do their job unless the mechanisms that secure and control them are sound. So, the fitness of the suspension and steering components is checked, as are the brakes. For these, testing on rollers is de rigeur. The brakes – handbrake included – must perform efficiently and evenly, within set parameters. The state of the hydraulic components is also tested, so ragged brake hoses and leaking fluid mean a fail.
Dependent on the car’s age and the type of fuel it uses, the car must meet precise emission requirements, and so computerised exhaust sniffing is carried out. Moreover, the exhaust system should be without leaks or holes caused by rust or damage.
While looking at the metalwork, the MOT tester will check the car’s structure. Excessive corrosion, damage or sharp edges are fail points. It’s important that all the strong points in the body, those holding the hardware, must be free of rust and damage.
While considering structural elements, the tester must make sure that the car’s seats are secure in their upright position. Seatbelts must be present and correct in the front and rear, as well as working and in good condition. Next out, as it were, the doors must work properly, and have functional locks. The mirrors must also be present and fully usable – a cracked glass may cause a fail.
The matter of visibility comes next. The car’s windscreen must be free of all but the smallest amount of damage, the windscreen wiper blades must be in good order and the screen washer must work and have an adequate supply of fluid.
Now for the lights. All the lights – indicators and hazard lights included – must be secure, properly aimed and working. This just leaves two legalities, the number plates and the Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. The ‘plates must be in good shape, legible and have the correct format and, so fancy typefaces and ‘plates modified to read in special way can earn you a fail. The VIN, which you’ll find on any car registered after the 1st August 1980, must be present and readable.
In practice, the four most common MOT failure points are suspension, brakes, lights and, of course, tyres. The checklist above will guide you towards winning an MOT pass, which will save you both hassle and money. However, if in any doubt about any aspect of your upcoming MOT test, it’s advisable to call in the experts. Consult a garage or tyre bay as necessary.