Any vehicles more than 3 years old are required to take an MOT test every year to ensure they are roadworthy. Despite the fact that such a test is a regular occurrence for all drivers, each year millions of cars fail due to avoidable faults. In 2017, of the 7.3 million MOT failures, 2.5 million could have been avoided by motorists making some simple checks before the test.
Of such failures, the most common issue is incorrectly adjusted headlights – accounting for 976’569 fails in 2017. Next up is failing brakes – accounting for 921’534 fails that year. And after that is broken registration plate lights – accounting for 912’246 fails. After this, other familiar faults are worn tyre tread and defective side lights. The majority of failures are: incorrect headlamp aim, inadequate brake performance, broken registration plate lamps, faulty sidelights, too worn tyre tread, broken or worn windscreen wipers, corroded or defective coil springs, broken headlights, and lacking windscreen washer fluid.
All of these regular faults can be easily fixed by the owner, without having to pay upon failing your MOT! They all come down to a failure to carry out basic vehicle maintenance – which is much easier to regularly keep on top of, rather than letting it build up and result in a sometimes-hefty bill. And failing an MOT can be expensive – UK motorists pay an average of £325 to fix their car when it fails its MOT, and this cost could be reduced or avoided by thoroughly checking your car before taking it for the test.
To help you out in ensuring your car is in tip-top shape, we have composed a handy MOT checklist – make sure you test these things not just before your MOT, but regularly, to ensure you are driving a safe vehicle.
1. Cleanliness. It is important to keep your car clean inside and out – an excess of clutter and overly dirty car (especially if the registration plate isn’t properly visible) can cause a failed MOT!
2. Check all lights are working properly. This one is easier to do with someone helping – so they can watch the lights for you. Turn on the ignition and go through all lights one-by-one – the sidelights, dipped beam, main beam, fog lights, brake lights, reversing lights, indicators, and hazard lights. Ensure they are all working properly, and check them regularly to be safe!
3. Check the tyre tread. The legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre, but the recommended minimum to ensure safety is 3mm. To check this you can do the 20p test – put a 20p in tread grooves, and if you can’t see the outer band of the coin then your tyres are above the legal limit. Again, make sure to check this regularly, and especially before long journeys.
4. Check the tyre pressure. Look in the owner’s handbook or in the driver’s door for the recommended tyre pressure, and then use a pressure gauge to check each tyre. If any tyres are too low, use an air compressor to refill it. These checks should be done on cold tyres – so make sure the car has been parked for at least a few hours.
5. Examine the windscreen wipers. Make sure they are in a good condition and have no tears. Many cars will have a service position option – use this, then move the blade away from the windscreen and check the material for tears with your fingers. Be sure to be careful, and remember that you should change them about every 12 months!
6. Top up the oil. Use the dipstick to ensure it is between the minimum and maximum level, and check the owner’s handbook for which type of oil to use.
7. Top up the screen-wash. Use quality screen-wash additive or pre-mix.
8. Check the brake fluid. It will either be in a reservoir (plastic canister) connected to the master cylinder, or in older cars in the metal master cylinder. It should be within half an inch of the cap, and should be replaced by a mechanic if it is dark in colour.
9. Finally, make sure your horn works!
Here at Nathaniel Cars, we can help you with your MOT checks and yearly services to make sure your vehicles are well maintained and always pass the MOT test.