All cars that are over three years old must have a MOT test every year to make sure that the vehicle is roadworthy. If it fails the test, then it will have to be repaired in order to comply with the standards. Many are very basic checks so even if you don’t know a lot about cars, you can still do a pre-MOT check in order to minimise the chance of failure or inconvenience occurring.
Turn the ignition on and ensure that:
- Your horn works.
- Your wipers and windscreen work.
- The screen wash is full.
- The windscreen wipers’ rubber blades do not have any loose strips or there are not any missing chunks from the wiping edge. If they do, it is easy to find replacements from motor retailers and they are easy to fit.
- Make sure your seat belts work correctly and are not cut or frayed.
- The mountings need to be secure and your belts are free of any damage and that they cleanly engage and disengage
- Pull on the belts sharply to ensure the inertia reels lock
Walk around your car and inspect all of the tyres.
Make sure that there are not any cuts or bulges on the sidewalls, or any objects stuck inside the tread. The tyre tread should be 1.6mm deep at least. A tread depth gauge can be used or a 20 pence piece. Place it in the grooves that go around the tyre.
If the coin stands proud on the rim around the edge, then you need to replace your tyres. Check that each tyre matches the opposite one on the same axle for the construction type and size. If you have a spare tyre for your car, then it also needs to be road-legal.
One of the more frequent failure points is your lighting. Check the following:
- All of the exterior bulbs are working properly
- Each of the light’s lens is free of damage and cracks
- Headlights (both the main beam and dipped), rear and front side lights, rear and front fog lights, reversing lights, stop lights, and number plate lights and all indicators.
Bumpers should all be secure, there should not be any sharp edges that can injure pedestrians, and you need to be able to access the vehicles through all of the doors and be able to open them from the outside and the inside.
It is impossible to accurately check your brakes if you do not have specialist equipment, such as the types in Winnersh garages or other garages. However, you can do the following things:
Check under the bonnet and ensure the fluid in the reservoir of the brake system is in between the ‘max’ and ‘min’ indicators. Check your vehicle’s handbook for information on where to find it.
Pull on the handbrake. If you need to pull the lever up too far with lots of clicking, then inform the tester that the cable probably needs to be adjusted. Also, if your handbrake can be released when you tap the lever, it needs to be tightened.
Similar to the brakes, without specialist equipment, it is hard to check the steering, but you can still check a few things.
The steering wheel needs to be fairly tight on its column. If there are abnormal movements or loose when you turn, then the column support may have some wear.
When turning on the steering wheel listen for knocks from one full knock to the next, or excessive whining coming from the power steering pump. Both of these can be an indication that you have worn components that need to be replaced or repaired.
Dampers or shock absorbers cannot a difference in the absorbing pressure or any leaks. Bouncing on all of the corners of your vehicle can give you a rough idea if you have faulty shock absorbers. Under pressure your car should go down and go back up to full height before slightly settling down. Excessive bouncing is an indication of worn out or faulty dampers.
Mirrors and Windscreen
If your windscreen has small stone chips in it, that doesn’t necessarily indicate failure but:
- The whole area that is swept by your wipers should not have any chips or cracks
- Damage outside of that area should not be larger than 10mm in diameter
- Mirrors should be fixed securely and the glass should be in good condition
- Should be free of corrosion and be secure
- Rev the engine with the doors open, parking brake on and the car stationary. If there are any unusual noises or rattles, it can indicate they are on their way out
- If your car has any smoke, it can fail the emissions section of the test