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Tips for Making Sure Your Car Passes its MOT

How to Make Sure Your Car Passes its MOT Test

The MOT test was introduced in the UK in 1960 under the direction of the Minister of Transport under powers in the Road Traffic Act 1956. The original test was very basic and included brakes, lights, and steering checks, which took place when the vehicle turned ten years old and every year after its tenth anniversary. The MOT was commonly known by drivers in the UK as the ‘ten year test’ or the ‘Ministry of Transport test’. When tests starting taking place, many cars were failing the test and drivers in the UK were unhappy with the law to take the test; it wasn’t long before the government acknowledge the anger of British drivers and the high failure rate of the test, therefore in December 1961, the law was changed so that cars would have to be tested every year after its seventh anniversary rather than its tenth. In 1962, drivers also had to have a valid MOT certificate to have a tax disk for their car, which at the time was legally required for a car to be driven. Despite the change in years before the car had to be tested, the failure rates still remained high and people were still highly unsatisfied, meaning that in April 1967, the testable age for an MOT was decreased to three years. Ever since then, all cars have been required to take an MOT test annually after their three year anniversary to show they are roadworthy.

Over the years since the MOT was introduced, the list of items that are tested has been expanded to ensure the safety of the vehicle and the passengers inside the vehicle when it is being driven. This includes the tyre check only being added in 1968 and checks of windscreen wipers and washers, horns, brake lights, indicators, exhaust system and condition of the body structure chassis in 1977. The most recent change to the MOT test was in 2012, this included checks of secondary restraint systems, the vehicle battery and wiring, ESC, steering locks and speedometers. It is likely that new test items will be added to the MOT in the future as vehicle manufacturing technology evolves, especially with the introduction of electric powered vehicles and vehicles powered with renewable energy, such as biofuel. As frustrating as having to take your car and pay for an MOT is, we believe it is absolutely necessary to ensure safety on the road for you, your passengers, and other people on the road and the consequences of missing your MOT test are worse than having to pay for an MOT test. That’s why we have provided you with in-depth information regarding the MOT test, including tips on how to pass and simple reasons why vehicles commonly fail their driving test.

MOT changes May 2018

In May 2018, the way that the MOT test is carried out and its outcomes were changed following new regulations. Previously items on the MOT checklist were marked as pass or fail; it now it has been changed so that if items on the MOT test had faults, they would be marked as minor, major or dangerous. Following an MOT test, the driver will be issued with a pass, a failure or an advisory on a specific item on the checklist. The way this will be determined will follow:

Minor MOT faults

Minor MOT faults would be considered as one where the problem does not cause an immediate safety risk but should be rectified as soon as possible. This is similar to the previous system where an advisory is given to the driver after a pass to prevent MOT failure in the future. If a car only has minor faults, it should still be granted with an MOT pass certificate.

Major MOT faults

Any major fault is taken more seriously as it could potentially be a safety risk to drivers and others in your car or on the road. Major faults can also be a defect that is having a strongly damaging effect on the environment. These faults will indefinitely result in an MOT failure until the issues have been rectified. If the car still has a valid MOT from the previous year, it is still permitted to be driven, however, once the certificate has expired, it may not be driven unless it is to the garage to be tested.

Dangerous MOT faults

A dangerous fault is classed as one that poses an immediate risk to the safety of the driver other road users, and similar to a major fault, will result in an immediate MOT failure. Unlike a major fault, the car will not be permitted to be driven, even with a valid MOT. The car will only be permitted to be driven once the problem is rectified and passes its MOT.

Checklist to help your car pass!

Before you take your car for its MOT, complete this checklist to ensure a pass!

  • Brake Lights - Ask someone to check your brake lights for you when you press down the pedal.

  • Headlights and Indicators - Check all your lights are working including your front, rear, headlights (main beam and dipped), indicators and hazard lights. If any are broken, replace before your MOT to avoid paying for a retest.

  • Tyres - Check all your tyres have the legal minimum tread depth (1.6mm). Also check for any damage, such as cuts and bulges.

  • Tyre Pressure - Your car's manual will state the correct tyre pressure.

  • Handbrake - Check the tension when using your handbrake.

  • Fuel and Engine Oil - Make sure your car is topped up with engine oil. Engine oil can be topped up when having your car serviced.

  • Exhaust - Check for leaks by starting your car engine in a well-ventilated space at normal temperature and listen from the front of the vehicle for any unusual noises and see if any smoke is coming out of your engine.

  • Horn - Simply give a short blast of your cars horn. If it is not loud enough to attract attention, get it repaired as soon as possible.

  • Windscreen - Check for damage, any damage wider than 10mm in the drivers central view will result in immediate failure.

  • Windscreen Wipers - Ensure that they can clean your windows effectively.

  • Suspension - Check the vehicles absorbers by applying your weight to each corner and releasing it. The corner should quickly return to its regular position.

  • Seats and Seatbelts - Check the driver’s seat adjusts forwards and backwards.

Common reasons for MOT failure

  • The car is dirty or full of clutter. Clean the mess from the boot and cabin, then wipe over the mirrors.

  • Screen wash is not topped up. This takes minutes so ensure to complete this before your MOT.

  • Your registration plate is incorrectly placed, is dirty or missing,

  • Warning lights on the dashboard, this has been included in the MOT since 2012.

  • Stickers on the windscreen blocking the driver's view. Ensure that all are removed before. This includes parking permits.

Published: Thursday 6th June 2019