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Five simple checks to carry out before your MOT

25th July 2021 Print

Getting an MOT for your vehicle is one of those life admin tasks that just needs ticking off. It’s an important aspect of car ownership, but one that many of us view as a nuisance.

In 2018, changes were made to the way the MOT test works and in the first year more than 10 million vehicles failed the new version of the assessment. So, what exactly is an MOT and why does it matter? What happens if your car fails, and how can you prevent that from happening? Read on to find out more.

What is an MOT and why is it important?

MOT stands for the Ministry of Transport, which was the body first responsible for the tests when they were launched in 1960. During the MOT, your vehicle’s key parts and components will be checked over to ensure they meet the necessary standards to be deemed roadworthy. It’s important to know that getting an MOT is a legal requirement and should be done on an annual basis.

What are the possible results of an MOT?

When you take your car for its MOT check, there are five potential outcomes – two of which result in a fail. The five results are:

- Pass. The vehicle meets the legal standards to be deemed roadworthy.

- Advisory. The car is fine to drive but there are certain parts you need to monitor and get repaired if necessary.

- Minor defects. This still counts as a pass but means there are problems that should be fixed as soon as you can.

- Major defects. Should be repaired immediately as they could affect the safety of the driver or other road users.

- Dangerous defects. The car should not be driven until these are repaired as they pose a direct and immediate risk to road safety.

What happens if your car fails its MOT?

If your MOT test shows major or dangerous defects, your car has failed and should not be driven without the issue(s) being fixed. A failed MOT means your vehicle is not legally roadworthy, so to drive it in that condition could result in you being fined up to £2,500 – not to mention putting yourself and others at risk.

What should you check before your MOT?

- Lights: This is the most common reason for a failed MOT. Your headlights, indicators, reverse light, fog light and brake lights can all be classed as major faults if not working properly. Often, it’s just a case of replacing a dead bulb.

- Tyres: Your tyres need a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm to pass the MOT, although it’s recommended to swap them at 3mm because braking is significantly compromised beyond that point.

- Engine fluids: An oil leak, depending on its severity, has the potential to result in a failed MOT so make sure there are no leakages and all fluids are topped up to the required levels.

- Windscreen and wipers: Broken wipers may impact your ability to see clearly, which means your car is likely to receive a major fault. As for your windscreen, the maximum size crack in the driver’s line of vision is 10mm (40mm elsewhere). Even a small chip can turn into significant damage, so it’s best to address the issue as soon as it appears.

- Warning lights: If any of your dashboard lights show up, you’ll fail your MOT, so if that is the case it might be best to get your vehicle serviced before taking it in for a test.