How to prepare your car for an MOT

How to prepare your car for an MOT

If your car is over three years old, you need to take it for an official MOT test every year. Driving your car without a valid MOT is illegal - and can land you a fine of up to £1,000.

If your MOT has failed or expired, you can only legally drive the car if you’re heading somewhere for it to be repaired, or to a booked MOT test.

It’s also dangerous to drive a car without an MOT, as a certified garage hasn’t checked whether or not the car is roadworthy.

If you haven’t taken it through a test, you may not know about any serious issues under the bonnet (or anywhere else in the car!)

What is an MOT?

An MOT test, which stands for Ministry of Transport (an old government department that’s now Department of Transport), is basically an inspection of cars that are older than three years old to ensure they are roadworthy. They take place at authorised MOT centres, and they’ll take a look at loads of different parts of your car to make sure it’s safe enough to drive on the road.

You car needs an MOT test every year once it turns three – you can find out when your current MOT runs out, and get reminders of when to go get another one, on the government website.

What’s tested on an MOT?

When you take your car in for an MOT test, the mechanics at the centre are making sure the essential components in your car are running smoothly and not posing any danger to you, or other people on the road.

If you’re wondering what exactly they’re looking for, here’s a basic checklist:

Structure and bodywork

·        Your car’s structure and bodywork are tested for any signs of damage, corrosion or wear that could affect the safety of your car.


·        Your brakes are tested.


·        Your lights are tested – your lights need to be bright enough, turn on and off correctly, aim properly and display the correct colours.


·        Your exhaust system will be tested and checked thoroughly for any leaking or damage.


·        Your tyres will be checked to make sure the pressure is correct, and your tread depth is legal. The test centre will also check the general condition of your tyres, and make sure they are the right size and type for your car.


·        Seatbelts will be checked to ensure they work properly.

Steering and suspension

·        Steering and suspension is checked out to make sure your car is turning properly.


·        These tests make sure your windscreen wipers work correctly, you have screen wash and its reservoir isn’t damaged, and the general condition of your windscreen is sufficient.

MOT results

So, now you know what MOT testing is looking for – what happens if your car isn’t quite up to standard? After every MOT, you’ll get a full certificate detailing all (if any) issues on your car. If your car has failed, this will tell you what exactly needs to be fixed before your car is deemed road worthy again.

When you get your certificate, you’ll see some of the following ratings, depending on whether or not your vehicle passed:

·        Dangerous – An issue that causes an immediate and serious safety risk, or serious negative environmental risk to the environment. Will result in your car failing.

·        Major – An issue that could potentially cause a safety risk or impact the environment. Your car will fail if it has a major fault.

·        Minor – There’s an issue with your car that could develop into a major or dangerous issue, and you need to get it repaired ASAP, but your car will pass if there’s no dangerous or major issues alongside it.

·        Advisory – This is an issue with your car that isn’t causing any impact yet, but you need to keep an eye on it and repair when necessary. If there’s no dangerous or major faults, your car will pass.

·        Pass – Your car meets all minimum requirements.

Alongside these ratings, you’ll see a description of the issue in question. For major and dangerous issues, you’ll need to have these repaired and have another MOT test in order to pass. You won’t be able to drive the car during this time – with the only exception being the drive from the test centre if it is to be repaired somewhere else.

How to prepare your car for an MOT

While most major and dangerous faults will need to be dealt with by a professional, some of them are easily avoidable and can save you from a failed MOT test. MOT tests can cost up to £54 in the UK and if you fail, you could end up paying this fee again (if you don’t get it retested within 10 days), on top of repair costs.

Before you take your car in for an MOT test, you should do the following checks in plenty of time to avoid being caught out:

Check your tyres:

You should be checking your tyre pressure and tread depth regularly. Tyre pressure should match that in your vehicle handbook, and the tread depth shouldn’t be under 1.6mm.


Has a bulb gone out? One of the most common reasons that cars fail MOTs is to do with their lights – turn on your hazards and get someone to take a look at your brake lights and indicators: they need to be bright and the correct colour. Check your headlights and make sure your full beams come on. Light problems are usually easy and cheap to fix, so make sure to give them a check up before your MOT.

Top up your screen wash:

You can fail your MOT for not having any screen wash, or if it’s leaking out. Fill it up and make sure there’s no cracks on your reservoir.

Take off any big stickers, toys or air fresheners:

If you have big dashboard adornments, it’s probably best to take them off for good. If the toys, stickers or air fresheners in your car can be argued to obstruct your view, you could end up failing your MOT test.

Check your wipers:

You need to make sure your windscreen wipers effectively wipe away water or dirt on your windscreen – pour water on your windscreen or check when it’s raining but turn them on an ensure they’re not smearing or smudging your windscreen. If they are, or they have any signs of damage, replace them – wiper blades are usually pretty cheap and easy to fit.

Clean up your car:

You can actually fail your MOT if clutter in your car means technicians can’t properly carry out the checks they need to. Plus, your MOT centres can refuse to test your car if they feel it’s too messy and dangerous to do so. It doesn’t need to be sparkling – but any mess or clutter should be cleared out.

MOTs with CarShop

At CarShop we offer MOTs for just £34.99 – our fully trained technicians will make sure your car is safe and road-ready. Plus, if your car does need some work done, you won’t have to take it somewhere else – everything can be completed onsite.

When buying a car with us, you can opt to get MOT4life included in the price – it’s also included with our service plans. For more information, get in touch!

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