How to Prepare Your Car For its MOT

Preparing your car for an MOT test

Every car owner understands the perils and frustrations of taking their car for its annual MOT. Once you’ve dropped your car at the garage or centre, you hold your breath and pray that you’re not met with a list of compulsory repairs at the end. However, according to the BBC, many cars are failing their MOT the first time round because of issues that can be easily resolved by owners.

Alongside this, a survey undertaken by Scrap Car Comparison has shown that mechanics across the UK are turning thousands of cars away due to poor maintenance and hygiene reasons. The results stated that 70,000 drivers failed to pass their MOT due to minor issues that could have been fixed by the owners of the car. Alongside this, 2,416 people were refused an MOT because their car was inaccessible due to dirt and bad hygiene.

Whether you have a second hand or brand new car, if you want to pass your MOT with flying colours then this MOT checklist is for you.

What is an MOT Test?

MOT stands for Ministry of Transport, and is a compulsory annual test that acts like a full body scan, for a car. An MOT looks at the exhaust emissions of the vehicle (if it is above a certain age), as well as the safety of the car. During your car’s MOT, the mechanic will check important parts of your vehicle and test them, in order to ensure that they meet legal standards and are safe for the road. Car owners can watch this test from a viewing area, but are not allowed to interrupt the mechanic during the test.

Why Does a Car Need an MOT?

If your car is more than three years old then it will need a valid MOT – if you are caught driving your car without an MOT then you will face a £1,000 fine, 6-8 penalty points on your driver’s license and invalidating your car insurance. Your car needs an MOT in order to ensure that it is roadworthy and meets the minimum environmental and safety standards. If you follow our MOT checklist, then your car should pass its MOT first time round.

How Long Does an MOT Take?

Depending on the make and model of your car, an MOT can take 45 – 60 minutes.

What is Included in an MOT Test?


1. Electrical equipment, lamps and reflectors


Your brake, rear, fog, indicator, front registration lights and rear reflectors should:

  • Be correctly positions and secured
  • Not be obscured
  • Be in good condition
  • Not be overly affected by any other lights
  • Be the correct colour; a bluish tinge on the headlights is acceptable
  • Light up at one operation of the switch
  • Pairs of lights should emit the same colour and be the same shape and size
  • Main beam and dip beam headlights should aim below horizontal and not dazzle other drivers


Your car’s horn must be loud enough so that another road user can hear it, while producing a continuous uniform note.


Your car’s battery must not show any signs of leaking and must be secure.

Electrical wiring

All electrical wiring in the vehicle should be secure and must not be damaged in any way that means it is at risk of becoming detached or short circuited.

2. Steering, brakes and suspension


During your MOT, the strength and condition of the steering wheel will be judged by moving the steering wheel in various directions. Steering components are also inspected for damage and general wear and tear.

If your wheels have locking devices, they will be tested to ensure the wheels only lock when the engine is not running. If your car has power steering, it will be tested to ensure that the reservoir has the minimum level of power steering fluid.


The mechanic will evaluate your car’s suspension components and shock absorbers for excessive corrosion, distortion and fractures.


The overall condition of the levers, pedals and brakes are analysed, alongside any warning lights. Your brakes will then have a brake performance test to establish their braking efficiency.

3. Tyres

During an MOT, your tyres tread depth will be checked; this must not be below the legal limit of 1.6mm. Alongside this, your tyres will be inspected for cuts in excess of 25mm, as well as lumps, tears, exposure of the cord and tread separation. Your car’s flat tyre warning light must also operate correctly.

4. Seat belts and restraint systems

Your seat belt, attachment and adjustment fittings will be tested for its safety, security and condition.

5. Body, structure and miscellaneous


A general inspection of the body, chassis, engine mountings, seats and doors of your car is undertaken, in order to ensure that all components are free from corrosion, and that there are no sharp edges that may cause injury.

Registration plates

The MOT will check that registration plates are fitted at the front and rear of the car, and that they are secure and legible to someone standing 20 metres away. The characters on the plate must be correctly formed and spaced, to ensure that they are will not be misread.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

Your car must have a legible VIN permanently displayed, either on the body, chassis or VIN plate.


Your speedometer will tested in order to ensure that it is fitted and can be properly illuminated. Alongside this, it will be inspected to see if there are any cracks in the glass that obstructs the view of the speedometer.

6. Exhaust and emissions

Exhaust system

Your car’s exhaust system will be inspected to ensure it is secure and doesn’t leak. Vehicles originally fitted with a catalytic converter must have them present.

Fuel system

During your car’s MOT, the fuel system is inspected for any leaks. Your tank cap will also be checked to ensure it seals properly.


A gas analyser will probe the engine of your car while it is running to test the smoke emitted from the exhaust. Your car’s emissions of carbon monoxide and hydrocarbons must fall within the legal limit set by the Euro Emissions Standards.

A visual check for excessive dense blue or black smoke emitted from the exhaust is undertaken. If there appears to be thick black or blue smoke, your car will not pass the MOT.

7. The view of the road

Mirrors and wipers

Your car’s wing mirrors and rear view mirrors must provide acceptable views of the rear and side of the road while driving. They must also be secure. The car’s wipers and washers must sweep a wide enough area of the widescreen to give an adequate view of the road.


The windscreen must not have any damage or obstructions larger than 10mm directly in front of the driver. If your car has damage outside the driver’s view that exceeds 40mm, your car will fail its MOT.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Legal disclaimer: FairSquare Europe Limited is a company incorporated in England & Wales (Reg No: 08023305). and having its Registered office address at 3 Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2JB. FairSquare Europe Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority for credit-related regulated activities, Firm Reference Number 715086

We act as a credit broker not a lender. Fairsquare shall act independently in sourcing credit from our panel of funders.

As a credit intermediary, we maintain a panel of Lenders who are reputable and experienced in the motor finance industry and consumer credit sector and offer products and services to suit a variety of credit strengths.

FairSquare is committed to ensuring that applications for credit to finance your car are placed with the most appropriate funder for a transaction. As we act as a credit broker, we will receive a fixed commission for introducing you to a finance provider, any such amount a lender pays us will not affect the interest rate you pay under your finance agreement, all of which are set by the lender concerned.

Finance is subject to status. Applicants must be 18 or over.