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  • 03 April 2017

    How to increase the chances of passing your MOT test


    Reading this guide will give you all the tips and tricks of the industry to give you the best chance of passing your MOT test first time.

    If your car is over three years old you will be required to have an annual MOT test. Most of us, understandably, see this as a bit of an inconvenience but it is a legal requirement to ensure your car is safe and roadworthy. In this article, we’ll have a look and explain how you can actually increase your chances of passing your MOT test with a little input from yourself...

    The maximum price, as recommended by the government, is £54.85. But, as you are probably thinking as you read this, you do find them for less perhaps somewhere between £25 and £50? These prices are often put out there to attract business and either way the majority of us will see this as a bit of an inconvenience financially.

    Though the MOT test is often seen as a financial drain it is worth remembering that it’s actually a really useful process to ensure the safety of the car is still tip-top. It can also reveal some underlying problems that may turn into something much more expensive!

    Around 40% of cars fail their MOT test, however, you can vastly increase your chances of passing by carrying out some basic checks at home. Eradicating basic and easy to fix faults will vastly increase your chances of passing and help you avoid forking out for the dreaded retest fee!

    Exterior Checks

    • Tyres and Wheels
      • They must be the right shape and size. Make sure all tyres are your standard wheels, not a space saver or spare wheel
      • Tread depth - this must be a minimum of 1.6mm across the central three-quarter of the pattern. You can check this with the 20p test -insert a 20p into the tread and if the outer edge of the coin is obscured the tread will pass the test
      • Any lumps or cuts on the side wall? These may be deemed unfit for use

    • Lights
      • ALL LIGHTS need to be fitted with the correct bulbs i.e colour and in good working order
      • To check the light you will need a friend. One of you needs to walk around the car whilst the other tries all the lighting. Tap each light and if they flicker they need either tightening or replacing and make sure you change any blown bulbs!
    • Wipers & Windscreen - Drivers View of the Road
      • Wipers and washer need to work efficiently  enough to ensure that you will have a good view of the road
      • Replace any worn out wipers, top up your windscreen wash and unblock the jets if necessary. This can be done with a fine pin
      • Make sure your windscreen is in good condition and allows for a clear view, and check for any chips or cracks bigger than a 5p coin


    • Reg plates
      • Make sure they are secured to the car and clean
      • There are also rules about font use, it may be worth checking the government website to check if your reg plate meets all the requirements.
    • Doors
      • Most of these seem like a no-brainer but it’s worth a check!
      • Make sure all doors close firmly and stay closed
      • Front doors must open from the inside and outside
    • Vehicle Structure
      • It’s worth having a walk round and making sure that your car is in good condition, no parts loose or hanging off
      • Make sure there are no excessive damage to it - rusting, corrosion etc
      • Any sharp edges? That's a fail! Make sure there is nothing that would affect or harm other road uses
    • Pop the bonnet
      • Check your brake fluid and make sure you’ve got some fuel!
      • The garage needs both to carry out an emission test.
      • Check your oil levels too!

    Interior Checks

    • First and foremost give your car a good clean! If it looks clean and cared for the mechanic doing your MOT is probably more likely to ignore a borderline problem
    • Check the handbrake!
      • If you have to pull the handbrake up an usually long way it means the cable may need tightening
    • Warning lights
      • Make sure all your warning lights come on and then off when you turn your car on, any warning lights that stay on your dash while the car is running can lead to a negative point during your MOT test
      • And whilst you’re at it, make sure you have a fully working speedometer, you’ll need this to pass!
    • Seats
      • Make sure they don’t move around and can be locked into the position!
    • Seatbelts
      • Frayed or damaged? They will not pass!
      • Make sure they are all firmly secured and that they click in and out correctly and securely.

    • Horn
      • This is an easy one to check. Just give your horn a quick toot and make sure it is loud and clear.
    • Mirrors
      • Check all your mirrors are clean and in prime position so that they are all viewable and clear from the driver's seat.
      • The car must have an interior rearview mirror and a driver's side mirror to pass

    Mechanical Checks

    Conducting mechanical checks yourself is probably the most difficult part of your MOT prep, but is definitely worth it. If there happens to be an issue it gives you time to shop around for a repair instead of rushing into something and cramming the fix in before your retest. Mechanical checks is also the area where you may get some nasty surprises so it’s worth a check!

    • Suspension
      • This is one of the more difficult things to test yourself but it is doable. If you put all your body weight on each corner of the car and then release any movement should settle down quickly if the suspension is all good
      • You can also hear suspension problems when driving. Do you hear any creaking or knocking sounds coming from your car whilst driving? This could be your suspension
    • Exhaust
      • Have a look and make sure nothing is hanging loose
      • Look out for any major leaks and make sure the silencer is working
      • You can check for leaks by starting up the engine and holding a cloth over the exhaust pipe, you should be able to hear any leaks
      • Start the car up and listen out for any unusual or loud noises, this can be a sign of corrosion
    • Exhaust emissions
      • There are now legal requirement regarding your emissions which must be met to pass your MOT depending on the age and model of your car
      • Loads of smoke coming out of your exhaust? Then there is probably a problem
    • Fuel System
      • Check the fuel tank including all visible parts. Make sure hoses and pipes are secure
      • The fuel cap should fasten tightly and have now cracks or splits
    • Brakes
      • Make sure the footbrake and handbrake work properly and there aren’t any visible leaks from the brake line
      • Examine brake discs for any warping or scoring
      • If you have ABS make sure the warning light is working


    So, that’s just about all the tips and tricks we have for you! Good luck and happy motoring!

Howards Garages (Weston) Ltd is an Appointed Representative of Automotive Compliance Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA No 497010). Automotive Compliance Ltd's permissions as a Principal Firm allows Howards Garages (Weston) Ltd to act as a credit broker, not as lender, for the introduction to a limited number of finance providers and to act as an agent on behalf of the insurer for insurance mediation activities only.