MOT Checklist: Everything you need to know
The MOT test can be annoying to many car owners. A failure repair bill can cost hundreds of pounds. In some cases, it can take your pride and joy on the road for good.
But there is no need to stress about it; once you are familiar with how to test vehicles, it is easy to tell if your car is likely to pass or fail before going to the test centre. That gives you the chance to get any potential faults rectified.
What is an MOT?
The MOT is your car's annual road safety test. It is done according to the latest regulations issued by the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
All vehicles older than three years must have a valid MOT before driving on public roads. After its certificate expires you can be fined up to £ 1000 for driving a vehicle. If a driver cannot provide proof of the roadworthiness of their vehicle, the insurance companies are within their rights to invalidate the claim for damages.
To pass, a vehicle must conform to a strict set of safety and emission criteria. Exact requirements vary according to a car's size, age and class. If a test brings to light any defects that are dangerous or illegal, the vehicle will automatically fail. However, the test will label less significant drawbacks as 'advisory'. These can include things like worn tyres or rusty exhausts. More often than not, drivers will have to deal with these before the next test.
Drivers can visit any licensed MOT station in the UK. There are approximately 20,000 of them, with the average test lasting around 45 minutes.
How much does it cost?
As of 2010, the maximum fee that can be charged for a garage test is £54.85 for cars and light vans. It covers all aspects of the price process including admin fees, material costs and labor.
How can I check if my car is MOT'd?
Most garages will offer to send you free reminder texts by your scheduled MOT date. Alternatively, running the vehicle's number plate through https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history will let you know when its current certificate is ending.
How to check your history online
The Gov.uk MOT checker can also be used to review previous MOT tests. It provides extensive information about previous advice and failures. This is useful if you need to remind yourself what fixing you need before going to the garage. It also comes in handy if you are deciding whether or not to buy a second-hand car.
Is my car exempt from MOT?
Car owners with vehicles younger than three years are not required to put them through an MOT test. This is because they are assumed to have acondition that is not dangerously bad on account of them being 'new'. A dealership check-up or service should highlight any areas of concern. They will probably contain a repair too.
Similarly, vehicles manufactured 40 years ago are classified as 'historic' and do not need to be officially tested. However, police may still deem them unsafe and could unloaded on the road.
Often overlooked, your car's number plate is one of the easiest things you can look for to avoid failure or a consultant. To pass, it must be: the correct colour (usually black/yellow on the back, white/black on the front); fully legible (no significant cracks, scratches, or fading); displayed in the correct registration format.
DVSA also recommends that the characters on your number plate be in the correct font; They also suggest the plate should be of the appropriate size.
Lights and indicators
Each test will include a test of your car's headlights. They should be aimed correctly, switch properly between submerged and full beams and should have clear, unmarked lenses.
Indicators will also be tested at this stage. Drivers will receive an ongoing failure for any non-flashing bulb. The number plate light, reversal light and any fog lamp will also be checked.
Any vehicle with improperly functioning brake lights is dangerous. They should illuminate clearly when pushing the brake pedal during testing.
They will also test your car's centrally mounted third brake light if it has one. However, your car is not legally required to have one. The basic rule is: if it is there, it has to work.
The tread depth of the tyre is integral to the safety of the vehicle and can be one of the most costly failures to fix. It doesn't take much to check beforehand, though. The minimum average running depth on UK roads is 1.6 mm. This is roughly the same as the outer rim of of a 20p coin.
Your front wiper must be in good working order and must be able to effectively clean dirt from the windscreen. This means that the blades should not have any tears or cracks.
The rear wiper does not have to be tested. However, if your car has one and it is not working, it is best to fix it for peace of mind.
Seats and seatbelts
Seatbelts save lives. That is why an MOT test includes a period of scrutiny focused on them. The belt should extend itself and retract as intended, be in good usable condition (i.e. not about to rip) and clip securely into the fastener.
An old car may fail its test if the seatbelt anchorage points (usually above and below the B-pillar) are highly damaged or deteriorate, as it is a device to keep the occupant safe in the event of impact.