Many of us will be willing our car through its day of reckoning and will await the phone call from the garage with a mixture of hope, fear and trepidation, all rolled into one.
If it passes, cue the proud parent! If it fails, enter the hard-up parent who has to open his or her wallet to cover the cost!
Like a child embarking on their exams, there’s a number of reasons why a car can fail, precisely because a wide range of tests are carried out across all areas of the vehicle. It only has to fail in one of these areas to fail the whole MOT.
Our favourite place to begin. The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. Insert a 20p coin in the tread; if you can see the border, it’s time to change the tyres before the test. Look for any cuts and bulges too.
Honk it! If it doesn't work, it'll need to be repaired or replaced.
This one won’t take a minute. Check the headlights, licence plate light, hazard lights and indicators and are all working as normal.
Check that the driver’s seat moves easily in the various adjustment buttons / levers. When it comes to the seatbelts, check every belt fully to make sure there are no cuts or fraying, that they retract properly and that they’re secure. Give them a sharp pull to make sure they’re responsive, too.
You might just need a socially distanced friend or family member for this one.
Ask them to check the brake lights while you press the brake pedal. If you are on your own and can’t get help, try carefully reversing up to a reflective surface and look behind to see if they're working.
This is an easy one! Make sure your number plate is clean and readable – a quick wash is sufficient. If it’s not, it could fail the test. The font and spacing of the number plate characters must also comply with guidelines too.
Your car should tell you if it’s thirsty for either. Just make sure that its thirst is quenched with enough of both for its MOT. Before checking or topping up the levels, be sure that your car has been off for a little while and has had a chance to cool down. If you drive a newer diesel car which uses AdBlue, remember that the MOT will check this system too, so keep it topped up as necessary.
This one catches out more motorists than you’d think. Make sure they’re topped up, basically! The screen washers must provide enough fluid to do their job, otherwise, prepare to fail.
If there is any damage (cracks / chips) more than 10mm in the driver’s area of the windscreen and more than 40mm in the rest of the windscreen, your car will fail. For wipers, make sure that they can clean the front and back windscreens properly. Windscreen stickers or other obstructions to your view may also cause an MOT failure.
And a couple of additional questions we’re frequently asked:
When do I need to get an MOT test?
When your car is three years old from the date of its registration. It then needs to be retested every year on the anniversary of its last MOT test
If your car fails its MOT, then you can only take your vehicle away if your current MOT certificate is still valid and no 'dangerous' problems were listed in the new report from the failed MOT. Otherwise, you must get it repaired before you're allowed to drive.
How can I find out when my MOT is due?
If you’ve lost your MOT certificate you can simply use the GOV.uk tool to enter your registration number and vehicle make. This will check both your MOT status and tax status in a matter of seconds.
Is there a grace period for an MOT?
No. As soon as your MOT has expired it becomes illegal to drive your car on the road.
Can I drive without an MOT?
In a word, no. You can’t drive a vehicle without it having a valid MOT certificate. The only exception is that you're able to drive your vehicle to its MOT test, so long as the test has been booked. If you own a vehicle and are not planning on driving it you must keep it off the road and will have to declare it SORN.
Now that you have inwardly digested all of this, we look forward to booking you in and taking the necessary action to keep you and your car safe!