MOT tests are designed to examine your vehicle and ensure that it is safe to drive. Many of us hand our cars over to a garage each year completely unaware of what they actually check for.
An MOT certificate is a legal requirement for all cars over 3 years old, without one you will not be able to tax or insure your vehicle. The law requires that everyone who drives a vehicle on UK roads must ensure it is kept in a roadworthy condition. The MOT is carried out once a year in the interest of road safety and the environment.
Here we examine which areas and components of your car are checked during its MOT test in accordance with the law set out by the government’s Vehicle & Operator Services Agency (VOSA). More information on MOTs and the law can be found in their your car and the MOT guidance handbook.
Body & Structure
The vehicle’s body and the general structure of the car is checked to ensure it is free from excessive corrosion or damage which would affect the car’s performance and safety. The exterior of the vehicle is checked for any sharp edges which would be likely to cause injury to pedestrians.
The performance, condition, including inappropriate repairs and modifications, and operation of the brakes are checked to ensure they are safe for the road, this is known as the efficiency test.
Security latches on the bonnet are checked to ensure they are safely secured in the closed position.
Doors are tested to ensure they latch securely in the closed position. Front doors should open from both the inside and the outside, rear doors should open from outside the vehicle. The boot or tailgate is checked that it can be secured into the closed position.
All visible electrical wiring and batteries are inspected to ensure they are safe.
The vehicle’s fuel emissions are checked using specialised equipment to ensure they meet the requirements for the age and fuel type of the car.
The exhaust system is checked to ensure it is secure, complete, without any serious leaks and that it silences correctly. The catalyst should be in place where it was fitted as standard.
The fuel system is checked for any leaks and that the fuel cap securely fastens and seals, and is in a good condition. The fuel tank must be securely mounted and the fuel pipe or hose must not be damaged.
The horn must be operational, easily reached by the driver, loud enough and not a sequential multi-tone.
A Beam Setter is used to check the alignment of the headlamps and that they are correctly set as to not dazzle other road users. The condition, operation and security of all lights on the car are checked, including High Intensity Discharge (HID) and Light Emiting Diode (LED) headlamps. The main beam warning light is also inspected.
The minimum number of mirrors should be on the vehicle. These mirrors should be secure, visible from the driver’s seat and not distorted or damaged so as to seriously impair the driver’s view to the rear of the vehicle.
Garages can turn you away if your engine oil level is too low. You can easily check your oil levels before your MOT. This can be done by locating the dipstick under the bonnet (this is usually brightly coloured). Clean the dipstick using a cloth. Insert the dipstick back into the pipe and back out again and look at the film of oil on the end of the stick. This will indicate whether there is enough engine oil or if you need to add more.
Both number plates must be present, secure, not faded, dirty or obscured. Letters and digits must conform to the approved font design with correct spacing. Front plates must be black digits on a white background; rear plates must be black on a yellow background, with discrepancies on vehicles registered before 1973
The driver’s and front passenger seats are checked to make sure they are secure. The driver’s seat fore and aft adjustment mechanism must function correctly. All seat backs must be secure in the upright position.
Vehicles produced after 1965 must have seatbelts. Vehicles are checked to ensure all compulsory seat belts are in place and that seat belts and their components are the correct type, in good condition and fully operational. The Malfunction Indicator Lamp (MIL) for air bags and seat belt pre tensions and load limits is checked.
The suspension should be checked from under the bonnet and from under the vehicle. The front and rear suspension should be checked for any split pins, missing nuts, and broken or damaged components. The condition of road springs, joints and ball joint dust covers are checked, along with shock absorbers, which must be secure and not leak.
The steering wheel and steering column is checked to ensure it is in an acceptable condition and that the steering wheel is securely attached to the steering shaft. The steering lock mechanism must work correctly and there are no malfunctions.
Tyres & Wheels
The condition of the tyres and valves is checked. Tyres must also be correctly matched with regards to type, size, structure and fitting. Spare wheels are not inspected as part of an MOT test. If your tyre tread is close to the legal limit you may want to consider buying new tyres, visit our website for a fantastic selection of tyres at low prices.
For vehicles manufactured on or after 1st August 1980. Not more than one different VIN (vehicle identification number) is displayed throughout the vehicle. This excludes multistage built vehicles.
Windscreen, Wipers & Washers
The condition of the windscreen, wipers and washers is checked to ensure there is nothing obscuring the driver’s view of the road. Satnavs in the windscreen, or furry dice and air fresheners hanging from the mirror are not allowed. Wipers should operate correctly to give the driver a clear view.