Every car on the road that is older than 3 years will need to have an annual MOT to ensure roadworthiness. If your car fails the MOT, it will need to be repaired to conform with the set standards. There are a lot of checks that make up the MOT which are very basic and you will be able to complete a pre-MOT test to check for potential failure. This is possible even if you do not know anything about cars.
When you turn on the ignition, you need to ensure that your car’s horn is working. The windscreen wipers and washers need to work properly and the screen wash should be full. The blades of the wipers will need to be tight and not missing any parts on the ends. If they are, you should replace them before you have the MOT done.
You also need to check the seat belts to ensure they work properly and are not cut or frayed. The mountings for them should also be secure and free from damage. The belts should engage and disengage cleanly. A sharp tug on the belt should lock it.
Take a walk around your car and check the tyres. There should be no cuts or bulges on the sidewalls or any objects stuck in the tread. The tread itself should be at least 1.6mm deep. You can use a tread gauge to determine this or the rim of a 20p coin. To use the coin, you need to place it in the grooves of the tyre and run it around the tyre. If the rim around the edge of the coin stands proud, you need to replace your tyres.
You also need to check that all of the tyres match the opposite one on the same axle. They should be of the same size and construction type. If you have a spare tyre, you also need to ensure that this is road legal.
Lights are one of the most common failure points on the MOT. To avoid this, you need to ensure that all your exterior bulbs are working correctly. You also need to check that the lens is free of damage and cracks. The lights that you need to check include the headlights, front and rear side lights, reverse lights, stop lights, fog lights, indicators and the lights over your number plate.
The bodywork of the car should not have any sharp edges which could injure people. The bumpers need to be secure and you need to be able to open all of the doors. They should also open from the inside and out to provide access to the car. Consider a bumper repair firm if necessary.
While it is almost impossible to accurately check your brakes without special equipment, there are some steps that you can take. The first is to look under the bonnet and ensure that the brake system reservoir is sitting between the maximum and minimum indicators. To find this, you will need to check the owner’s manual. You also need to pull the handbrake on to check it. If you have to pull it too far up and there is a lot of clicking, you need to take the car to a tester. There is a chance it needs to be adjusted. If the handbrake can be released by simply tapping on the lever, it will need to be tightened.
As with your brakes, you do need special equipment to check this accurately, but there are still some things you can check. You need to ensure that the steering wheel is fairly tight on the steering column. If the wheel is loose, it will cause abnormal movements when you turn and will wear down the column support.
You should also listen for any knocks when you turn the wheel from full lock to full lock. Excessive whining is also something to look for. Both of these are signs that there are worn components.
Shock Absorber Checks
Your dampers and shock absorbers should not have any leads or differences in pressure absorption. To get an idea of this, you will need to bounce each corner of your car. The car should go down under pressure and rise to the full height when released before settling down slightly. Excessive bouncing is a sign of shock problems.
Windscreen and Mirror Checks
Failure will generally not happen when there are small stone chips, but the area cleared by the wipers will need to be free of chips and cracks. Damage outside of this area will need to be limited to 10mm in diameter. Your mirrors should also be securely fixed and the glass must be in good condition.
Your exhaust needs to be free of corrosion and surely fastened. Rev your engine while the car is stopped with the brakes on and the doors open. Unusual noises and rattling is a sign that there is a problem. If there is any smoke, your car is likely to fail the emissions test.