Checking your car before its MOT

Ever had the frustration of your car failing its MOT due to a something like a faulty bulb? With around 40% 1of cars failing first time, you could save on the cost and hassle of a re-test by doing a few simple checks beforehand. If you need to fix or replace anything, your car's manual should explain how to or you can get a mechanic to sort it out.


Do all your lights work? Check your headlights, rear lights, sidelights, hazard lights, indicator lights, brake lights, fog lights and number plate lights are in good working order. If any aren't working, the bulb will probably need tightening or replacing.


By law your tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. An easy way to check this is to insert a 20p coin into a tyre's main tread grooves in several places. If the outer band of the coin is visible the tyre doesn't have enough tread. A tyre will also need replacing if there are any cracks, bulges or gouges in the rubber.


Is the vision through your windscreen clear? Check it's not obstructed by stickers or by damage, like a large crack or chip. If your wipers show any sign of wear or tear, you'll need to replace the rubber blades. Test your windscreen washers work, too. If they don't, they could be blocked or your washer bottle empty.

Seats & seat belts

Your seats and seatbelts should be in good working order. Try adjusting the driver's seat to check it moves freely along its runners. Each seatbelt should retract properly and lock into position when pulled with force.


Your handbrake should have enough tension to hold your car on a hill. To fully engage the handbrake, you should feel and hear around six jumps from the ratchet mechanism. If it feels loose and can't be ratcheted to a set level it'll need fixing.


A quick way to check your suspension is to apply your weight to each corner of your car. When you release it your car should return to its normal position without bouncing more than twice. If it continues to bounce your shocker absorbers may be faulty or worn.


Check your exhaust isn't leaking by starting your engine in a well-ventilated place and listening at the rear for unusual sounds or black smoke. Any of these symptoms will need addressing as your exhaust could be releasing harmful fumes.

Number plates

Your front and back plates should be held on securely, clean, not cracked or faded. The letters and numbers should match those displayed in your car's V5C Registration Certificate, be legible from 20 metres away and comply with legal requirements.


Check your horn emits a continuous, uniform sound which is loud enough to attract the attention of others. If it's not working, the fuse may need replacing or the horn may need cleaning.

Dashboard warning lights

Your dashboard warning lights shouldn't blink constantly or remain lit when the engine is running. If you're unsure what a warning light means refer to your car's manual. A warning may indicate a serious fault or could be down to a faulty sensor or broken wire.




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