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10 checks to save you from an MOT test fail

17th February 2015

March is one of the most popular months for MOT tests, and here we are again, just a few weeks away and as usual, worried that the car will potentially fail?

Around 40% of cars fail their MOT test first time round – so you’re right to be a little apprehensive! But did you know that the majority of these failures are down to very minor issues?

Knowing what to check before you car heads down to the garage for the MOT test, can help your chances drastically. Take a look at the checklist below and give your car the best possible start this year. You may end up pleasantly surprised...

1. Are your headlights and indicators working?

Nearly a third of all test fails are down to lighting – yet checking and changing a bulb is one of the easiest jobs that can be done pre-test. You car manual will tell you how to change the bulbs and you can buy car bulbs for pretty much any car from all garages and suppliers.

2. Do your brake lights work?

To check your brake lights ask a friend to stand behind your car as you press the brake pedal. Alternatively reverse up to a reflective surface to check the brake lights as well as any other supplementary brake strip lights.

3. Make sure number plates are legible

The spacing between letters on your number plate must comply with regulations. This shouldn’t be a problem unless you have had to have your number plate replaced since its last MOT. Check online to find out what the requirements are if in doubt. The most important thing is to ensure that your number plate is clean. A quick wipe over from a damp cloth can make all the difference when it comes to passing the MOT test.

4. Your wheels and tyres must be legal

Give your tyres and wheels a check to make sure there is no damage to them. Your tyres must have sufficient tread depth and must be free from damage. Take a look at our Tyre Safety section to find out all the legal requirements for your tyres to help you pass your MOT test.

5. Seats and seat belts should be undamaged

Make sure all seat belts in the car are working properly. Pull the whole length of each seat belt out and assess for damage. Any that aren’t in good working order will cost you a fail. Tug each one sharply to check their function. The driver’s seat must be able to adjust forward and backwards too.

6. The windscreen must be undamaged and wipers must be effective

Ensure your wipers work well and check you don’t have damage to your windscreen. If there is damage right in front of the driver - in the area known as the 'A zone' – damage up to 10mm can be repaired and will pass. 10mm is slightly less than the size of a 5 pence coin. Check for cracks and chips and have them repaired before the MOT test if you find any.

7. Is your screen wash topped up?

Keep the screen wash topped up using a good quality solution. Keeping your windscreen clean is very important and also helps to remove ice in cold weather.

8. Is the horn working?

Your horn must work to pass your MOT test. If it doesn’t work prior to the test, have it repaired or replaced before the test to avoid a guaranteed fail!

9. Do you have sufficient fuel and engine oil levels?

Ensure you have enough of the necessary fluids in your car before the MOT test begins. You can be turned away from the MOT test if you don’t. You car will have to be running in order for the tester to measure the emissions that your car gives off, so sufficient levels of oil and fuel are a must.

10. Are your dashboard instruments working?

As of March 2013, MOT testers also look for illuminated or non-functioning dashboard warning lights. You can check all your lights by turning on the ignition – they all light up for a few seconds then turn off if not required. If you have any dash lights which are on continually, have the issues looked into before the MOT test to be sure they don’t affect your test result.

If you have any queries or questions about preparing your car for its MOT test, call your nearest Merityre Specialists Branch for expert advice.
Alternatively you can book your car in for its annual MOT test, quickly and simply online at Merityre Specialists at a time and place convenient to you.