Car Owner’s Pre-MOT Checklist & Myth Buster

Car Owner's Pre-MOT Checklist & Myth Buster 4th November 2015

Did you know that you might be able to get your car to pass its MOT test the first time round by making a few simple checks? 40% of cars fail their MOT test the first time due to minor faults that can easily be spotted and sorted out before the test. Just follow our checklist to be prepared, or drop into your local ATS Euromaster centre for a free Vehicle Health Check.

What the MOT will check

An MOT is an annual check for vehicles over 3 years old to ensure your car is safe to drive on the road and it complies with minimum road safety and environmental standards. It won’t check every important part of your car, which is why regular vehicle servicing is important.

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An MOT test will cover

  • Registration plates
  • Vehicle identification number
  • Lights
  • Steering and suspension
  • Horn
  • Windscreen, wipers and washer bottles
  • Seatbelts and seats
  • Brakes, wheels and tyres
  • Doors (including hinges, catches and pillars)
  • Fuel system and emission levels
  • Mirrors

Now that you know some of the key parts of your car that will be checked, you can use the checklist below to examine them yourself before the actual MOT. This will save you additional costs and improve your car’s chances of passing the MOT the first time round. Alternatively, why not pop into your local ATS Euromaster servicing centre to ask the team to check your vehicle ahead of your MOT test.

Pre-MOT checklist

  • Tyres – make sure that your car’s tread depth is above the legal minimum of 1.6mm across the central three quarters of the tread. This is not as complicated as it sounds and an easy way to check the depth is to do the “20p test”. Just place a 20p coin vertically into the tyre’s tread grooves. If you can see the outer border on the closest edge of the 20p coin, then your tyres may be illegal and need to be checked by an expert. If you can’t see the outer band of the 20p coin, your tread depth should be legal. You can also check the tyre tread depth indicators between the tread on your tyres too
  • Bulbs – check that all the lights are in working order. Make sure that indicator and break light bulbs don’t have a coloured coating that’s peeling off. You’ll know this is happening when the light shines white: this can cause a test failure
  • Wiper blades – Ensure that the rubber lining of your wipers is not peeling off or damaged by lifting them up for a closer look. Wipers need to be able to clear the entire screen that they reach
  • Washers – It’s a good idea to fill up on screen wash before the MOT and test that the jets are spraying the whole screen. Any blockages can be cleaned out with a needle or pin
  • Number plates – Be sure to check that the front and back number plates are fixed properly and that they are not dented or damaged. It’s worth giving them a good clean so that the letters are clearly visible from a distance

Ready to book an MOT test? We’ve over 160 MOT service centres around the country so you’re sure to find one near you.

What an MOT won't check

Although the MOT tests some of your car’s major parts, it’s not a substitute for servicing your car. It only means that at the time of the test, your car was considered road worthy and met the minimum road safety and environmental guidelines. An MOT test won’t cover every part of your car. Faults with your car can be picked up and addressed during a regular service. 

Which cars are exempt from an MOT?

There are certain cars that will not require an MOT certificate. They are:

  • Cars under three years of age
  • Cars manufactured before 1960

If your car does need regular MOT tests, why not sign up to our MOT reminder service? You’ll get regular reminders before the test day, so you’ll never miss the date.

Body kit, car modifications & MOTs

‚ÄčFitting a car with a body kit or custom modifications such as lowered suspension, a modified exhaust or tinted windows may not affect the car’s ability to pass an MOT. However, simply passing the MOT is not an indicator that the car is legal to drive on the road. Modifications may invalidate your insurance, so don’t rely on an MOT certificate to prove that your car is on the right side of the law. 

What to do if your car fails its MOT

There are a number of options available to drivers whose cars have failed their MOT tests. Make sure that you discuss the results in detail with your test centre to work out the best course of action for you. This can include:

MOT Re-tests

If your car fails its MOT, you will get a VT30 certificate. This will explain the reason for failing the test. Be sure to discuss exactly what repairs are needed with your test centre and that you are happy with them being carried out. 
You can get a free re-test by making sure that it is carried out by the original testing centre and that your car does not leave the test centre. This is called the Partial Retest. You can also get a free re-test by returning your car for re-test for one or more of these items, by the end of the next working day:

  • access panels
  • battery
  • bonnet
  • bootlid
  • brake pedal antislip
  • break glass hammer (class 5 vehicles only)
  • doors (including hinges, catches and pillars)
  • door open warning device (class 5 vehicles only)
  • dropsides
  • electrical wiring
  • emergency exits and signs (class 5 vehicles only)
  • entrance door remote control (class 5 vehicles only)
  • entrance/exit steps (class 5 vehicles only)
  • fuel filler cap
  • headlamp cleaning or levelling devices (that doesn’t need a headlamp aim check)
  • horn
  • lamps (excluding headlamp aim)
  • loading door
  • main beam ‘tell-tale’
  • mirrors
  • rear reflectors
  • registration plates
  • seatbelts (but not anchorages), seatbelt load limiter and seatbelt pre-tensioner
  • seats
  • sharp edges or projections
  • stairs (class 5 vehicles only)
  • steering wheel
  • tailboard
  • tailgate
  • trailer electrical sockets
  • towbars (excluding body around anchorage points)
  • tyre pressure monitoring system
  • vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • windscreen glass, wipers and washers
  • wheels and tyres (excluding motorcycles and motorcycles with sidecar)

You’ll only need a partial retest if you take the vehicle from the test centre for repairs and take it back within 10 working days. You can be charged a partial retest fee for this.

In all other cases, you’ll need to get a full retest and pay the full MOT test fee again. If you’re unsure, it’s easy to find out more by contacting us.

MOT appeals and complaints

You do have the option of appealing against the fail test result. To do this you will need a VT17 form which you can get from the test centre. Fill in the form and send it to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) within two weeks of the test. 

The DVSA can then offer you a recheck for your car (this will cost you the full test fees) and also send you a full inspection report with details of all the faults. It’s important to hold off any repairs until the appeal process is complete. 

While it’s important to know your options, here at ATS Euromaster we are confident that you will be satisfied with our level of expert care during your MOT. And if it’s a complete service you’re after, see more of our car services for standard and comprehensive maintenance services. 

MOT Myths – Busted!

Is your MOT knowledge up to speed with the latest rules and regs? Our research shows that there are still quite a few myths out there when it comes to MOTs. Below are some of the most common ones. 


The MOT test certificate is not compulsory.


The MOT test certificate is a legal requirement.


You can still drive on the road without an MOT certificate.


You can’t use your car at all until it has an MOT certificate.


An MOT is a full service of your car.


An MOT is not the same as getting a full service. It will not check your car’s mechanical condition and will not check the performance of all parts of your vehicle.


Any garage can do an MOT test.


Only government approved test centres can give you an MOT certificate.


It’s ok to repair my car before my MOT appeal is completed.


Repairing your car before your MOT appeal is completed will affect the outcome of the appeal.














Posted by Danielle Barge