What to check before your MOT – 10 simple steps

Tusker cars may come with servicing and maintenance included within the monthly amount of the vehicle, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t regularly check for the simple signs of MOT failure – after all, failing your MOT because you forgot to top up on screenwash is a hassle nobody wants. Here are ten quick and easy checks to make before your next MOT:

1. Look at your lights

30% of MOTs result in a fail because car lights don’t work properly. So it’s well worth testing all your bulbs including:

  • Headlights on fog, full and normal beam
  • Side lights
  • Hazards
  • Indicators
  • Brake lights

Replacement bulbs are fairly inexpensive but they can be a little tricky to fit so take a look at your manual for instruction.


2. Check tyre tread

When was the last time you looked into your tyre tread depth? The RAC recommends checking every two weeks, so if you looked longer ago than that it’s time for a review.

Under UK law, tyres must have a tread depth of 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre and around its complete circumference. A simple way to make sure you’re legal is to run a twenty pence piece around the tyre – if you can’t see the raised edge of the coin all the way round, your tread is fine. If you can then it’s too low and your tyre will likely need replacing.


3. Watch out for windscreen wear

If it’s a dry day when you test your wipers grab a watering can or hose pipe and spray both the front and rear windscreens. Your wipers must clear the windscreen effectively of water and be free of damage or tears. Should you need replacements, fear not: they’re inexpensive to buy and easy to fit yourself.

While you’re checking your wipers, take a moment to ensure your windscreen is free of cracks or damage. Anything larger than 40mm on any part of the windscreen and you’ll receive a fail. And any chips or damage wider than 10mm in the area swept by the windscreen wipers will also mean a repair is necessary for you to pass your MOT.

Most garages won’t touch windscreen repairs because it’s usually cheaper to claim on your insurance. Which will mean booking in for another MOT once your windscreen has been fixed.


4. Top up your fluids

Nobody wants to fail their MOT for a lack of screenwash but it can happen. There’s no reason to fail on this account. Simply buy some screenwash – the concentrated solution is normally best value – and follow the instructions to top up.

The same applies to fuel and oil. Your MOT centre will need to run the engine to ensure everything’s working as it should so insufficient fuel could result in you being turned away. Also ensure your oil is topped up to save additional cost that could be avoided.


5. Survey your seatbelts and seats

If you’re one of the 18.6 million commuters who travel alone in their cars every day, you might not be aware of any problems with the unused seats and belts in your car. However, this is another important part of the MOT making it worth your while to ensure your:

  • Driver’s seat is fully adjustable
  • All seats are securely fitted
  • All seatbacks can be fixed in an upright position
  • There are no tears or damage along the entire length of each seat belt
  • Each seat belt stops when tugged sharply


6. Honk your horn

It’s not that often we use our car horns so give yours a quick honk to make sure it’s working properly. Failure to produce a sound is an automatic MOT fail.


7. Clean your number plate

It’s not something you might think about regularly, but it’s important to ensure your number plate is clean, visible, securely attached and undamaged. You’ll also need to ensure it’s the right colour and that the numbers and letters are correctly spaced out or you could be hit with a fine of up to £1,000.

If your car came from a reputable supplier you shouldn’t have any problems with the lettering. Should you need a new number plate, they can be ordered from a registered number plate supplier.


8. Inspect your brakes

10% of MOT failures are down to brake problems. You can minimise the risk by testing your brakes every day and checking to ensure there are no unusual noises and that the car isn’t pulling to one side or the other. If you notice any issues like this, immediately seek help from a garage.


9. Study your warning lights

It’s tempting to ignore dashboard warning lights but they’re there for a reason. If your dashboard is lit up like the Blackpool illuminations, book in to a garage for a diagnostic test. Should your main beam, ABS, engine warning, brake fluid or airbag warning lights fail to work, they’ll need to be fixed to pass your MOT.


10. Survey your suspension

Checking your suspension couldn’t be easier – just preempt your garage by pushing down on each corner of the car to check for worn shock absorbers. If it bounces up and down rather than returning to the right position quickly or there are knocking noises, the shocks could be worn and might need replacing.

These ten tips won’t take long to carry out but they’ll reduce your risk of failing your MOT and help to keep your car safe and roadworthy. Which is well worth a few minutes of your time.

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