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Passing your MOT

Your MOT is an important part of driving and having a car. Without it, your car is deemed unfit for the road, and could be a danger to you and your fellow drivers and road users. The 2015/16 Road Casualty Report revealed that 1,830 accidents can be attributed to the fact that the car involved was unroadworthy.

While nearly 2,000 accidents a year are caused by this, they can be easily prevented by regular check-ups and routine maintenance.

So to help make sure that passing your car MOT is easy, we’ve put together a short guide.

What Does an MOT Involve?

Your car should have an MOT every year once it is over three years old. It takes on average 45 – 60 minutes, but if your vehicle fails the test, then it will have to stay there until it is fixed.

The mechanic will work through the same checklist for everyone, including:

  • Lamps, reflectors and electrical equipment
  • Steering and suspension
  • Brakes
  • Tyres and road wheels
  • Seat belts and restraint systems
  • Body, structure and general items
  • Exhaust, fuel and emissions
  • Driver’s view of the road

Why Cars Fail

Cars can fail their MOTs for the (seemingly) smallest reasons, and more often than not they’re things that could have been prevented by the owners.

The top five simple reasons for an MOT fail, according to research publish by What Car? Magazine are:

  • Screen wash not topped up
  • The car was dirty or full of mess
  • The registration plate had a problem, such as being obscured by dirt
  • Stickers on the windscreen obscuring the driver’s view
  • Warning light on the dashboard

Your Checklist

Unless you’re a mechanic yourself, you probably won’t be able to check your car to the same standard. However, there are a number of things that you can do to make sure that your car is in tip top shape – safe, roadworthy and likely to pass.

1. Check All Lights

Headlights, rear lights, fog lights, brake lights, indicator lights and hazard lights should be checked. Get someone else to check them for you while you’re turning them on inside the car. If any of them don’t work, check the manual to see if you can change the bulb.

2. Test the Brakes

Check for anything unusual.

3. Check Tyres

Tyre tread should not be below the legal limit of 1.6mm, and should be in good condition – take a look at our post on tyre safety.

4. The Handbrake

Check the tension. It should be without resistance and you should be able to ratchet it to a set level.

5. Seats and seatbelts

The driver’s seat should adjust forwards and backwards. Check the length of the seatbelt for damage, whether they fasten securely and whether they lock when they are pulled sharply.

6. Windscreen

Any damage or obstruction in the direct view of the driver that’s bigger than 10mm will be a fail. Outside of this area, there shouldn’t be any damage bigger than 40mm.

You should also clean and secure mirrors and wipers.

7. Suspension

You can test the suspension by applying your weight to each corner of the vehicle and then quickly releasing it. The corner of the car should return slowly. If it bounces more than twice, this could be the shock absorbers that need checking.

8. Horn

If it doesn’t work, or isn’t loud enough to attract attention then it needs repairing.

9. Exhaust

Check that the exhaust isn’t leaking by starting the engine and checking for unusual noises or smoke.

10. Fuel and engine oil

Before your car goes in for your MOT, make sure that there’s plenty of fuel and engine oil in it. The mechanic will need to check emission levels and will need enough fuel and engine oil to do so.

11. Failure

If your car fails its MOT, then the mechanic will give you a certificate detailing the reasons for the fail. You’ll need to get them fixed and then get a retest which your car will need to pass before you can drive it again.


Looking to book an MOT? Head to our MOT booking form

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Hamilton Garage Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Automotive Compliance Ltd, who is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA No 497010). Automotive Compliance Ltd’s permissions as a Principal Firm allows Hamilton Garage Ltd act as a credit broker, not as a lender, for the introduction to a limited number of lenders and to act as an agent on behalf of the insurer for insurance distribution activities only.

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