How to prepare for an MOT

How to prepare for an MOT 16th September 2014

When your car reaches its third birthday, the time will come for it to face its first MOT, the mandatory annual test for all cars over three years old that makes sure they are safe, roadworthy and legal. 

As that first MOT rolls around, many people expect their car will simply pass with flying colours. After all, it's only been on the road for three years, so should generally still be performing to a high standard. However, as many as one in five cars will fail their first MOT and need work to bring them back up to a roadworthy standard. 

Car owners can preemptively address the majority of these failures, however, by taking steps beforehand to lower the chance of your car needing work to be carried out. After all, it's far less hassle to ensure any potential issues are rectified beforehand, rather than when repairs suddenly become mandatory in order to get your car back on the road. 

The first step you should be taking to prepare your car for the MOT is to perform a simple check of the lighting and signals. These are the cause of more MOT failures – particularly in newer cars – than any other factor, and problems with these features are very easy to diagnose yourself. 

To check your lights, simply turn on the ignition, switch the headlights on and walk around the car to make sure all the bulbs are in working order. You can have someone help to check your full beam and indicators, or even use the reflection in a garage door if you've got no one handy. 

It can also be useful to check that the horn on your car works. Most of us will never use them after all, so it's easy not to notice that it's out of action. 

The next most common issue that arises in MOTs is worn or otherwise illegal tyres, but yet again this is something that's easy to check ahead of the MOT. 

All you need to do is check the tread on your tyres using a depth gauge, making sure they meet the legal minimum of 1.6mm of tread. Also keep an eye out for any cuts or bulges that may suggest you need new tyres. If they do need changing, you should book yourself in for an appointment before the MOT – it saves you time down the line after all. 

One other issue you may not even consider is the driver's view of the road, which is another common reason for failure. Sit in your car and simply look through the windscreen. Are there any chips in the windscreen? Are the window wipers cleaning the windscreen to a standard that still allows you to see the road clearly? 

Posted by Danielle Barge