Taking your car in for an MOT can be a scary and nervous time for many drivers, with that worry in the back of your mind, trying to pre-empt just how hard this latest trip to your local garage is going to hit your wallet.
Perhaps because of this, and probably due to everyone’s increasingly busy lifestyles, we often leave getting our cars through their yearly MOT to the last minute. A risky thing as I’m sure many will agree?
However, your next MOT doesn’t have to cause the headache it normally does. If you spend some time preparing and checking your car or van yourself before taking it in to the garage, you may well save yourself a fail and having to go in for a re-test!
There are eight categories which are tested in an MOT, and you will be surprised where most cars and vans fail. Usually for very simple reasons.
Category 1 – Reflectors, Electrical Equipment and Lamps
30% of all cars which fail their MOT are down to this category. Arguably one of the easiest categories to monitor and maintain yourself at home.
In this part of the MOT, the front, rear, brake, fog, indicator, registration plate lights and rear reflectors are checked and tested.
All lights must be:
- Secure and in their correct position
- Clearly in view
- Be in good condition
- Be the correct colour
- Not be affected by another light (e.g. brake light flickers when indicator is on)
- Turn on first time
Your car or van horn will be checked, it must be audible enough for other road users to hear and emit a continuous note.
Your car battery can’t show any signs of leaking and must be securely locked in position.
Your car or van’s wiring should be in a good condition and secure. If it shows signs of damage which could lead to a short circuit or your wiring to become detached, then this will likely give you an MOT failure.
Vehicles with a Towbar Fitted
The electrical socket on your tow bar will be tested, checking if it’s secure and that it operates all the lights of your tow item correctly.
Category 2 – Suspension and Steering
Perhaps not the easiest of categories to test yourself, however you will probably be able to notice any potential issues from how your car performs when driving around.
The tester will look over the suspension of your car or van, testing for excessive corrosion, fractures and distortion.
Your car or van will be checked for it’s steering strength and for the condition of the steering wheel. The tester will check the steering in different positions so they can inspect and check everything is up to the required standard.
One thing to note – if your car or van has power steering, the power steering fluid container must be at least at the minimum level. A quick and easy thing to check before getting your car tested.
Category 3 – Brakes
9.6% of cars and vans fail their MOT test due to an issue with their brakes, such as worn down pads and disks.
Your brake’s performance will be tested, as well as the condition of the components within the brakes such as pads and disks.
Category 4 – Wheels and Tyres
10% of failures are because of tyres, particularly the tread being too low.
During your MOT, your tyres and wheels will be tested.
Your tyres must be the correct rating for your vehicle (load and weight) and must be in good general condition.
The tread must be above 1.6mm, the legal limit. As well as the tread, your tyres will be examined for lumps, bumps and tears.
If you have run flat tyres, then the warning light will be tested.
A quick tip – grab a small coin at home and insert it into the tread of your tyres. You can then measure the tread depth to check if it’s above 1.6mm. If it’s below, get some new tyres before taking your car of van in for it’s MOT.
Category 5 – Seat Belts and Restraint Systems
Perhaps one of the categories which cars and vans fail on least often, seatbelts. Your seatbelts will be tested for their positioning and security.
Category 6 – Structure, Body and Other Items
The body of your car or van will be looked over. The tester will be checking to see all components are not excessively rusted and that your car or van doesn’t have sharp edges which could cause injury to the general public.
Your speedo (speedometer) will be checked to see if it can be easily read and if it illuminates when your car or van lights are on.
VIN (Vehicle Identification Number)
It is a legal requirement that every car and van in the UK has to display it’s VIN number in a legible fashion. Yours car or van will be checked to make sure yours is visible.
Maybe the most obvious of all? But your car or van needs to have a proper legal number plate on the rear and the front. It should be readable from 20 meters away, and only use fonts approved by the DVLA.
Category 7 – Exhaust, Emissions and Fuel
If your car or van is supposed to have a catalytic converter fitted, this must still be present. Your exhaust system will also be checked to make sure it is securely connected and there are no signs of leakage.
A gas analyser probe will be used (while the engine is running) to check the emissions of your car or van, testing that they fall within the legal limit for carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons.
If your car or van has black or blue smoke visually coming out of your exhaust, then this will likely cause a fail.
Your car or van’s fuel system will be checked. Making sure there are no obvious leaks. The fuel cap must also securely fit and seal properly.
Category 8 – View of the Road
Maybe not the most obvious of all the categories, but still an important one. The driver’s view of the road will be checked.
The area on your windscreen which is considered directly in the driver’s view will be checked for chips and cracks or any other vision obstructions which are 1cm or larger. For items outside of this area, the issue must not be larger than 4cm.
Wipers and Mirrors
6.6% of MOT failures are down to this category.
Your car or must have the mirrors (or legal and suitable replacements/styling upgrades) which were fitted from new. The view in these mirrors should not be obstructed and they should be securely connected to your car or van.
Your wipers must be able to reach a big enough section of your front and rear windows to make sure they give you an adequate view of the road in adverse conditions.
You should also double check that your screen wash is topped up.
Again, a very easy section to monitor yourself before an MOT.
So now you know what will be tested and checked next time you take your car in for an MOT, you’ll be ready!
If you need a couple of spare parts to make sure your car or van gets a pass, have a look at our part finder and one of our trusted breakers will be able to source you the right part for the right price.