Over 1.5 million cars fail their MOT each year because of the smallest of reasons. So by giving your car the once over before you take it in to your Dealer, and pointing out any potential issues when you get there, you stand a much better chance of your car passing first time. Just follow this 10-step guide to the quick-and-easy checks you can make to ensure things run as smoothly as possible. Of course, if you need any extra assistance, your Dealer will be happy to help.
The ‘Minute or Two’ checklist
1. Headlights and indicators
Check that all of your car’s lights function properly – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights, and indicators
2. Brake lights
Press the brake pedal and ask a friend to check that the read brake lights come on – including any supplementary brake strip lights. Alternatively, carefully reverse up to a reflective surface (window, wall, or garage door) and look behind to see for yourself
3. Number plate
Make sure that your number plate is clean and legible – even a quick wipe with a cloth makes a difference. The font and spacing of letters must also comply with legal requirements to be passed by the MOT station
4. Wheels and tyres
Check that wheels and tyres are undamaged. The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and any tyres with less than this will be marked as an MOT ‘fail’ (though it’s recommended that tyres are changed when tread reaches 3mm). If you’re in doubt about how much tread is left on a tyre, your local manufacturer main dealer can check for you. The dealer can also advise on the type of tyre that is right for your car if a replacement is required.
5. Seats and seatbelt
The driver’s seat should adjust forwards and backwards and all seatbelts should be in good, working order. Test movement of the seat and inspect the seatbelt’s full length for damage. Tug sharply on all seatbelts to check that they react as they’re supposed to if you have to brake severely.
Check the view out of the front of the car for damage – any damage larger than 40mm will cause a ‘fail’, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the ‘swept’ area of the windscreen in front of the diver.
7. Windscreen wipers
Make sure your wipers are able to keep your windscreen clean – any tears or holes in the wiper rubber can be an MOT fail.
Top up the washer bottle before taking the car in for a test – something as simple as an empty container can cause an MOT fail.
Give a short blast of the horn – if it doesn’t work, your dealer will need to repair or replace it.
10. Fuel and engine oil
Make sure your car is filled with enough fuel and engine oil – you can be turned away from the MOT without suitable levels of either, both of which are required by the dealership when running the car to test its emissions levels. If you are unsure about the type of oil that should be used, ask your manufacturer main dealer.
When checking fluid levels and handling parts that could become hot to the tough (eg bulbs), it is safest to ensure that the vehicle has had an opportunity to cool down fully.