What to Check Before Your MOT

An annual MOT test is a legal requirement for every car that is more than 3 years old. For your vehicle to be roadworthy, it will need an MOT and service which will thoroughly examine your vehicle and make sure it is completely safe and in good working order.

Failing an MOT test could rack up an expensive list of car repairs that could have been avoided. If you are doing regular checks on your vehicle, you are likely to discover any issues in advance, allowing you to take your car to a service centre and space out the cost of the repairs. Here are some of the basic checks you can do yourself all year round and before the test.

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Brake Fluid and Oil Levels

As brake fluid and oil are both a crucial part of keeping you and others safe on the road, you must check them regularly. Before you begin any inspection, make sure your car is on a flat surface and the engine is fully cooled down.

For your brake fluid, open your bonnet and find the master cylinder, here you will be able to see markings that say ‘min’ and ‘max’. You will only need to top up your brake fluid if it is below the ‘min’ line. Additionally, if the fluid is clear or amber coloured you should not need to change it. If the fluid has turned brown, it will need to be changed. The brake fluid should also be tested with a fluid tester for moisture.

To check the oil, first, make sure the car is on a level surface and the engine has been turned off for at least 10 minutes. Open up the bonnet and locate the dipstick. Pull it out and give it a good wipe with a rag or lint-free cloth, until it’s clean. Dip it back into the oil and remove it once more. If the oil is hitting between the ‘min’ and max’ markings on the dipstick, your oil is at a good level. You will need a top-up if the oil is below or on the ‘min’ marking. Add about 100ml to 200ml at a time. It’s very important not to overfill the engine.

Brake Fluid and Oil Levels

Vehicle Mirrors and Lights

To pass the MOT test, all 3 of the obligatory mirrors must be intact and in good condition and cannot be obstructed or damaged in any way. By checking the interior mirror and the two exterior side mirrors regularly for cracks, scratches, exposed edges or any other things causing severe impairment, you are likely to spot and fix any issues before your MOT test. Most vehicles only need two mirrors depending on the year the vehicle was made. One mirror should always be on the driver's side of the vehicle.

Since we use our lights heavily for visibility and to communicate with other drivers, they also need to be in good condition. To pass your MOT, the front-and-rear-position lamps, beams and brake lights will need to be fully functional and free of any obstructions.

Though the garage may not be checking the exact positioning of the lamps, it is very good practice to look and make sure both lamps are at the same height. Before the test, you can also give the outside of the lights a good clean and wipe down, checking that they are not broken, burnt out or malfunctioning.

Vehicle MIrrors and Lights

Warning Lights

Warning lights will notify you when your vehicle is having a problem or is faulty. You must take the warning lights very seriously and book the repairs as soon as possible. You can easily look at your vehicle manual to find out more about each warning light that pops up.

At your MOT test, the garage will be checking your warning lights and if any begin flashing when the car starts up, you will fail the test and likely be charged for the extra time it will take to investigate the problem.

Warning Lights

Tyre Tread

Tyres can wear over time and can affect your stopping distance, particularly in wet weather conditions. In the UK, the minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm. If you are stopped while driving with the incorrect tyre depth, you could be fined up to £2,500 whilst also receiving 3 points on your license per affected tyre.

To check the tyre tread, use a tyre tread gauge for the exact measurement, or you could even use a 20p coin, which is approximately 2mm wide. If the 20p coin fits into the tread groove and its outer ring is not in view, your tread is at the legal requirement.

If you can see all of the edges of the 20p coin, this means your tread is too wide and it’s time to change the affected tyre/s. Make sure you check the tyre depth across the central three-quarters of the tyre.

Tyre Tread

Windscreen and Wash Reservoir

Windscreens can be extremely difficult to assess, and it can be tough to tell in advance which marks will pass and which will not. On the driver’s side, if the marks are approximately 10mm you are likely to be in the clear. For anywhere else on the windscreen, 40mm is a helpful estimate.

The main factor to consider is whether the marks obstruct the driver's view of the road. Additionally, make sure you check and fill up your washer reservoir if needed and make sure your wiper blades are in good working order.

Windscreen and Wash Reservoir

Seatbelts, Steering Wheel and Horn

Seatbelts are a crucial part of keeping both the driver and the passengers safe. Examine the belts, ensuring they do not have any tears and successfully lock with a sudden movement. Next, check that the clip fits properly on the first try and cannot be pulled out with force.

To check the wheel, examine how the wheel moves when steering and whether there is any unusual stiffness or looseness. For your horn, simply press it and make sure it is loud, constant and responds correctly when pushed.

Seatbelts, Steering Wheel and Horn

How We Can Help

Though some factors can be out of our control, doing regular checks will help you spot any issues before they become serious and expensive. Every one of us has the responsibility to take ownership of our vehicle, ensuring all problems get fixed as soon as possible to keep the roads safe.

Partridge Motors is firmly established in the local area, with over 20 years of experience and can provide motorcycle and car servicing, repairs and MOTs. As we are an approved MOT Centre, we can provide both the MOT test and a full service of your car.

Contact us to book an MOT.

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