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An MOT test is an annual inspection that is required by law on all vehicles in the UK that are older than 3 years (and some vehicles that are older than 1 year). The test follows strict criteria set by the DVSA to determine whether your car is safely roadworthy.


Remember, having an MOT is different from having a car serviced; it doesn't cover the mechanical condition of your car.  


If you'd like to check your vehicle over yourself, we've put an MOT pre-inspection checklist together which may be of use.  As always, if you have any questions do get in touch.

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Increase your chances of a first time pass by going through this checklist and addressing anything that's a potential fail for your car.


All lights need to be working correctly: headlights, sidelights, indicators, brake lights and number plate lights.  This job is easier with an extra pair of hands to help, or park your car where you can see light bouncing off surfaces as you test your lights out.  If you have any aftermarket lights fitted make sure their mounts are secure.


Make sure your tyres are inflated to the correct pressure (you can find the right pressures for your car on sites like this) and should be at or above the legal tread limit of 1.6mm.

Run the edge of a 20p piece within the treads, if you can see the rim around the coin then your tyre is likely to fail.


Listen out for any excessive noise or rattling when your vehicle is running. This may suggest a problem with the exhaust system, which could result in a failed MOT. Another easy check is to see whether there’s smoke coming from the exhaust. This is normal on start-up for diesel engines, but excessive smoke may indicate a problem.

Similarly, if there’s fuel or oil leaking from the exhaust, there’s likely a problem further up the line – possibly with the spark plugs or glow plugs not warming/burning fuel properly.

Windscreen and wipers

Any chip or crack in your windscreen that is larger than 40mm will result in a failed MOT. Any damage within the area of the driver-side wiper that is larger than 10mm will result in a fail.

As well as checking your windscreen for faults, it is also important to assess the wipers. Your wipers and washers should be in a suitable condition to give you a clear view of the road ahead. If your wipers are splitting or your washer feed is blocked, this will require attention prior to your MOT. You can fail your MOT for having no screen wash so make sure that the bottle is topped up!

Check to make sure you have nothing on or near the screen that can affect your vision, including things like dashcams and sat-navs.

Fuel and engine oil

It is important for your car to have adequate fuel and oil levels to carry out the required emission tests.

To check your oil levels, remove your dipstick from the engine and give it a wipe. Put it back in the engine and pull it out again. Your oil level should be between the minimum and maximum marks (check your vehicle manual for specific instructions).

Make sure your car is parked on an even level when doing this.


Make sure your braking system is in good working condition; brake fails account for nearly 1/5th of all MOT failures.

If the car pulls to one side when you apply the brakes, this suggests a problem that requires further attention before you take your MOT. If you have alloy wheels, it may be possible to carry out a visual inspection of the braking system without removing the wheel. Check for excessive wear of brake pads or pitted brake discs as this could be an indication that your brakes need replacing.


You should also test your handbrake – this needs to be strong enough to hold your car stationary so be sure to test this, especially on an incline. 


Your mirrors must be intact, secure, and free of cracks. You can fail an MOT for cracked or smashed mirrors so make sure any damaged mirrors are replaced before your test.

You can often find replacement mirrors for your car make and model online, but be careful with the ‘self-adhesive’ types – they’re likely to fall off again in no time. ​

Interior & Safety Checks

It is important to ensure that all of your seatbelts are of the correct length and in working order. If you pull sharply on each seatbelt they should react by locking.

Your horn will be tested during your inspection – it is important that it can be heard by another road user. Giving your horn a quick honk should show whether it is working!

Finally, the warning lights on your dashboard will be included in your test so it is crucial to make sure that they all light up when you start the car and that they go out before you start driving.

If any of the warning lights remain lit then you should fix the errors or have your car seen before your test.

Body, chassis, and structure

 7% of all MOT defects were related to body, chassis, and structure. If your car has corrosion or rust within 12cm of a structurally important area this can result in a fail as can any sharp or protruding parts of the vehicle that might cause injury.

A thorough inspection of your vehicle's exterior surfaces and engine bay will pinpoint these in advance of a test.