The dreaded MOT (originally known by its full name, the ‘Ministry of Transport’ test) is a standardised examination that must be undertaken every year on all vehicles registered in the UK that are at least 3 years old. If your car fails its MOT then it is not road worthy; it’s as simple as that. This is why so many drivers across the country (young drivers with older, cheaper models especially, myself included) fear their annual MOT as it could mean that it is essentially useless and switching vehicle is a considerable hassle both financially and logistically. As with any test, you need to prepare (you wouldn’t walk into an exam with no prior revision would you?) and to give it the best possible chance to pass it’s MOT with flying colours so you’re going to need to pay close attention to the next few paragraphs. Here we will go into detail explaining everything you’ll possibly need to know about the MOT process and how to keep your driver on the road.
Four very important things to remember
1) All of the MOT information will be kept on a central server but it’s up to you to make sure that your vehicles certificate is valid.
2) If your vehicle is three years old then you’ll need an annual MOT test but specifically when you take the test is up to you and is crucial. If you book your test any more than a month before your certificate is due to end, then the test date the next year will be moved to that date, so you’ll have essentially wasted a month!
3) Although you’re technically not meant to drive without a valid MOT certificate you can to the test centre if the test has been pre-booked. For this reason it’s imperative to pre-book your test at least 6 weeks in advance.
4) The maximum MOT test cost is just under £55 for cars and just under £30 for motorbikes. If you’re being charged more than this then it’s illegal. Of course you should also remember that many companies will promote cheaper tests as they will also guarantee themselves business if the vehicle doesn’t pass the MOT but is repairable.
Check all easily avoidable faults!
Although it might be difficult to believe, 40% of MOT’s fail on their first time, and these failures are usually down to silly, avoidable checks that haven’t been made before-hand. Remember these are all checks you can and should do yourself, so you won’t need to employ any mechanics or windscreen repair services unless you find a fault.
- Lights – Have a friend or family member sit in your car while you circle it, checking all the lights (including hazard lights). If there are any not working then simply buy new bulbs and replace them.
- Brakes – If your brakes are feeling a little loose, fidgety or unresponsive or if the handbrake slides up without any resistance then there is most likely a problem. Unfortunately you’ll probably need to employ a mechanic to fix most brake problems.
- Suspension – It’s difficult to do a full suspension check unless you really know what you’re doing but it is possible to check your shock absorbers. Apply your weight quickly to each of the corners and then move back to the centre. It should settle back but if it doesn’t then the problem is probably your shock absorbers.
- Tyres – You should check the pressure and tread of your tyres at your local petrol station.
- Windscreen – If there are any cracks or splits in your windscreen any more than 10mm across then you will need to get them repaired. Thankfully there are numerous windscreen repair services that will be able to help you out without affecting the no claims bonus on your insurance.
- Exhaust – To check if the exhaust is leaking, start your engine and listen from the rear for any unusual noises or smoke. Any leaks should be fixed by a mechanic pre-MOT.
- Licence Plate – If you’re licence plates are not clean and visible from 20 metres away you will fail your MOT.
Hopefully you’ve taken everything here in and (if there’s nothing seriously wrong) you won’t need to employ the services of any windscreen repair, mechanic or engineering services before booking your next MOT.
Ian Appleton is a writer who often advises motorists on how to look after and maintain their vehicles.