Preparing your car for an MOT
If your car is more than 3 years old it will need to go in for an annual MOT to make sure the vehicle is roadworthy. You'll also need it to tax your car and take it out on the road.
Even if you don't know a lot about cars, there are still plenty of things you can do yourself to make sure the car is fit for its MOT. It could save you having to pay for repairs and will make sure your car's not off the road for any longer than it has to be.A few simple checks
Some of the easiest things to check will only take a few minutes. Turn on the ignition and make sure:
- the horn is working
- the windscreen washers and wipers are working. If not you can top up the screenwash or replace split blades on the windscreen wipers
- all the lights are working — this includes the brake and number plate lights
- the seat belts work properly and are not frayed or cut
- Worn tyres are one of the most common reasons for failing an MOT.
- Check for damage, bulges or objects stuck in the tread
- Also check the tread — if it's worn on one side the wheels might be mis-aligned
- You'll also need to make sure the tread is at least 1.6mm deep, the legal minimum which you can check using a tread depth gauge
- First, check that the handbrake works properly:
- if you have to pull the lever up too far through lots of clicking, the cable probably needs adjusting
- if the handbrake can be released by tapping on the lever, it will need tightening
- You can also check the brake pedals. If they feel spongy when you press them, there may be air in the hydraulic system which needs to be removed.
Your steering wheel should be fairly tight on the column. If it's loose or there are abnormal movements when you turn, there could be wear in the column support.Shock absorbers
Try to 'bounce' every corner of your car. If your shock absorbers are working, the car should settle after one or two bounces. If not, they may need changing.
The windscreen and mirrors
While an MOT will allow small stone chips in your windscreen, there should be no large cracks. It's best to get any small chips fixed early before they expand and cause you a bigger problem.
Your side mirrors should also be securely fixed and the glass in good condition. You can buy replacement glass or mirrors if you have a problem.The engine
You can check for leaks in the exhaust system by asking someone to hold a cloth over the exhaust when you start the car.
If there are no leaks, the engine should stall after a few seconds. If it doesn't stall, you'll need to get any leaks repaired to pass your MOT.