It’s that dreaded time of year - your car is due for its annual MOT test.
Perhaps you’re confident that your new car will pass its MOT with flying colours or you’re worried that your ‘99 Honda Civic will need expensive fixes. Either way, it’s good to be prepared. Without a valid MOT, you will find it difficult to renew your car insurance and motor tax.
Before going into detail on how you should prepare, here are some other things that you may need to know before your MOT.
When is My MOT Due?
To check when your next test is due, check the certificate you were given at your previous MOT.
The certificate has an expiry date which is usually 12 months after your last test. If you’ve lost this certificate, then you can easily check the MOT status on the gov.uk
How Long Does an MOT Take?
An MOT test doesn’t take all that long. It usually takes around 45 to 60 minutes. Enough time for you to grab a coffee or read a magazine while you wait.
If your car undergoes regular servicing
and is in good condition, then all you’ll have to do is pay your bill and receive your certificate.
If your vehicle fails, however, you won’t receive your certificate on the day. In this instance, you’ll have to factor in repairs and a retest.
7 Things to do Before the MOT
Now you know when your test is due and how long it may take, let’s look at how to prepare your car for the MOT to ensure you have every chance of passing.
1. Warning Lights - If there are warning lights on your dashboard that you’ve been ignoring, the time to get them checked out is before your MOT. Any warning lights on your dashboard will be picked up by the tester and you may fail the test depending on how severe the warning is.
2. Brakes - Brakes are one of the most critical components when it comes to ensuring safety on the road. Keep an ear out for grinding or squealing noises coming from your brakes. When you brake, take note of whether your car stops in a straight line.The ABS light must work if anti-lock brakes are fitted and the handbrake must be able to hold the car firmly. You can test the handbrake on an incline.
3.Exterior Lights - Headlights, indicators, and brake lights need to be in good working order. DRLs (daytime running lamps) and front fog lamps on vehicles first used from 1 March 2018 need to be checked. The condition of the lights includes how much light is emitted and the colour of the light.Missing or inoperative lamps are two major defects and will result in a failed test.You should also be aware of cracks or damage to light covers.
4. Seats & Seat Belts -
The MOT tester will check driver and passenger seats, as well as all seat belts.Check to see if seats can adjust forwards and backwards. Also check to see if the backrest can be retained in the upright position on the driver’s seat.Seat belts should be secure. Ensure the anchorage isn’t loose and that the seat belts act as they should if you have to suddenly brake.
5. Mirrors & Windscreen - Rear and side-view mirrors, as well as the windscreen, are checked to ensure driver visibility. Furry dice, air fresheners or other trinkets should not be on display for the MOT. These could block the driver’s view of the road.Mirrors should not be missing, excessively damaged or insecure. The windscreen shouldn't have damage in zone A which is bigger than 10mm. Excessive tinting of the windscreen or windows at either side of the driver’s seat is also not accepted.Some windscreen chips or cracks won’t lead to a failure, only damage larger than 10mm in the driver's line of vision (i.e., Zone A) and damage larger than 40mm in the rest of the area.
6. Wheels & Tyres - Wheel bearings, nuts, and bolts need to be secure. Tyre tread depth needs to be within the legal requirement of 1.6mm for cars.If you want to check your tyre tread at home, you can use a tyre tread gauge or a 20p coin. To use the coin, insert it into the main grooves. The border of a 20p coin is about 2mm so if you can’t see the outer border then your tread is above the legal limit.It’s of utmost importance that your tyres and your spare tyre are kept in good health.
7. Steering - The steering is checked by the tester using specialist equipment but there are some checks you can do at home before the test.Turn your steering wheel to feel for any abnormal movements. The steering should also be fairly tight on the column. Power steering should be checked to ensure it works as expected.
Remember to use an approved centre for your MOT test. Look for centres that display a symbol with three white triangles. If you're due an MOT book as early as possible with the Driver and Vehicle Agency (DVA). You can book online or by telephone.