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How to pass an MOT test

9th September 2021

Your MOT  has come back around as it does every year. But is your car ready to be tested – and is it likely to pass? In this helpful guide, we’ve put together some quick checks you can carry out to give your vehicle the best chance of passing.

1. Check all your lights are working properly

Did you know that lighting issues are the most common reasons that drivers fail their MOT test (RAC)? As one of the most important safety features of the car, your lights help other drivers see you and provide you with better visibility of the road ahead. For your car to pass its MOT test, all of your lights need to be the correct colour and in good working order. You should check the following:

  • Headlamps
  • Parking lights
  • Reversing lights
  •  Indicators
  • Registration plate bulbs

If any of these lights aren’t working, you can either replace the bulbs or check the wiring to make sure there aren’t any loose connections

2. Don’t forget your dashboard warning lights!

Your MOT tester will check to see if certain dashboard lights are illuminated or inoperative. They'll look at the power-steering indicator and brake-fluid warning lamps, so check that your lights all come on then go off when you turn the ignition. In order to pass your MOT, your car must also have a fully functioning speedometer.

3. Keep your tyres in top condition

Your MOT tester will be paying close attention to your tyres – and it’s for a good reason. As the only thing connecting your vehicle and the road, your tyres play a vital role in keeping you safe and making your journey comfortable. Here are some tyre checks you can do ahead of your MOT:

  • Look for signs of damage like cuts, bulges and punctures
  • Inflate your tyres to the correct pressure
  • Measure your tyre tread depth – the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm, but it’s recommended you change your tyres when the tread reaches 3mm.

4. Ensure you can see out of your windscreen

Nothing should obstruct your view of the road – from sat nav holders and dangling car air fresheners, through to the glass of the windscreen itself. While a chip or scratch may not result in an MOT failure, you will need to get the glass replaced as soon as you can.

Any damage wider than 10mm in the driver’s line of vision – a vertical strip centred 290mm wide on the steering wheel – will cause a ‘fail’. As will 40mm of damage elsewhere in the rest of the area swept by the wiper blades.

5. Are your mirrors clear too?

You need an internal rear-view mirror and at least one driver’s side mirror to pass the MOT. They should be secure, clearly visible from the driver’s seat and easy to adjust. If your mirrors are broken or cracked, be sure to replace the mirror glass or the entire mirror.

6. Test your handbrake, steering and horn

As part of your interior checks, you should make sure the handbrake works correctly. If you have to pull the lever a long way up and it makes clicking noises, the cable may need adjustment. Your steering shouldn't feel too loose and when you press the horn, it should be loud and clear from your driving position.

7. Carry out some mechanical checks

While mechanical checks are the hardest ones to carry out by yourself, they can help detect any issues that you can get fixed before your MOT.

  • Give your exhaust the all-clear – start the car up and listen for any excessive or unusual noises, which could be a sign that your exhaust is ‘blowing’ (i.e. there are small holes in your exhaust caused by corrosion).
  • Ensure your fuel system is free of damages – check that your fuel tank and all visible components, including hoses, pipes and your petrol inlet filler cap, are secure and free of any leaks.

8. Give your car a clean

Believe it or not, an MOT tester can refuse to carry out an inspection if they think your car is too dirty! That’s why it’s worth setting aside an hour or two to get your car shining like new. Your registration plates should be readable and if you have a personalised number plate, it should be in line with the DVLA specifications. Speaking of registration plates, make sure yours are in good condition as a damaged one can result in an MOT failure.

For a full list of everything that’s checked during an MOT, read our helpful guide. If you’ve conducted all the checks and are good to go, book your MOT online with your nearest Merityre Specialist branch – alternatively, get in touch with a member of our expert team for more help and advice.