Every car between 3 and 40 years old has to pass an annual MOT Test to ensure the vehicle is fit for the road.

For many motorists, MOT time can be a worrying time. The time between handing the vehicle into the MOT station and waiting to be told the results are enough to make anyone anxious. 

According to the DVSA (Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency), by carrying out regular checks on the most common MOT failures including tyres, wipers and bulbs, drivers could prevent nearly 50% of MOT fails.

Here are a few simple checks you can carry out yourself before handing your car in for an MOT. By following these tips you will improve your chances of passing first time and avoid cost and added stress of having the car re-tested.

The Basics

Many MOT’s are failed as a result of things that could be prevented by carrying out a basic visual inspection. Take a look around and inside your vehicle taking the following into account:

Lights – Turn on all the lights including fog lights and hazard warning lights. Take a walk around your car making sure all bulbs are brightly lit and functioning as normal. Don’t forget to check registration plate lights and brake lights. To check brake lights you can have someone press the brakes while you stand behind the vehicle, or you can reverse up to a reflective surface such as a garage door, and press the brake pedal while looking out the rear of the vehicle.

Wiper Blades – Check both your front and rear wiper blades, best to wet the car beforehand (unless it’s raining of course) or spray your washer jets, do your wiper blades clear the windscreen clearly or leave patches or streaks?

Horn – It’s not something we use often but it’s important to check your horn does work incase you do need it! Remember not to do this between 11.30pm and 7am – best to be a good neighbour!

Windscreen – Take a look at your windscreen from inside and outside the vehicle, looking for anything that might impair your vision and small chips or cracks.

Seat Belts – Make sure your seatbelts work correctly by giving them a sharp tug. Look for any wear or tears in the belt that might cause it to fail when it really matters!


Over 20% of MOT’s are failed as a result of defective tyres. When checking your tyres take the following into consideration:

Overall Condition – This includes the sidewall, look for any gouges, cuts or potential bulges.

Tread Depth – The legal limit of tread must be 1.6mm across 75% of the circumference of a tyre. This can be checked using a tread depth gauge or by using a 20p piece – place the coin between the tread blocks, if you can see the outer rim of the coin your tyres need replaced.

Tyre Pressure – This is usually found in the vehicle handbook or inside the door check on the car. It’s important to ensure tyre pressures are correct to prevent uneven wear or damage as well as ensure vehicle braking and handling performance.

Irregular Wear – Take a look at the tread, look for signs of uneven tyre wear. This could be caused as a result of other issues with the vehicle that may need attention.

Spare Tyre – If your vehicle has one, take a look and inspect the spare tyre. This is often forgotten but is important in the case you need to use the spare!

Vehicle Fluid Levels

It’s important to make sure your car is topped up with the following fluids, not just to pass an MOT but also to maintain the vehicles performance and lifespan of the engine:

Wiper Fluid – If the washers don’t function correctly, or there isn’t enough fluid to test this, your vehicle could fail it’s MOT.

Fuel – This might sound obvious, but make sure your vehicle has plenty fuel when it’s handed to the MOT tester.

Oil – It’s important to make sure the oil levels in your vehicle are ok. This can be checked using a dipstick or some vehicles have a digital gauge viewed in the vehicle menu.

Fluid Caps – Make sure all the caps fit securely in place and no fluids are leaking from the vehicle.

Regular maintenance, servicing and simply checking your vehicle for small issues can prevent MOT failures and keep you safer on the roads. By trying to save money not servicing a vehicle, you may be causing more permanent damage to your vehicle that could prove costly in the future. 

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