What to Think About Before Taking Your Car for an MOT
When your car is more than 3 years old, by law you are required to pass an MOT test to prove that the vehicle is still roadworthy. If you take the MOT and fail, you have to address all the problems that are raised up by the mechanics before you can take the test again and hopefully pass. Only with a valid MOT can you drive legally on public roads across the UK.
More drivers fail their MOT test than you might think. That is to say, they fail at their first attempt. During the pandemic, MOT tests were pushed back since many people were in lockdown and businesses restricted from operating. This caused an increase in failures as more cars went longer without maintenance. But even before the pandemic, it was quite normal for about 1 in 4 cars to fail the MOT at their first try. In 2017, of all tests done on 28.9 million vehicles, more than 7.5 million didn’t pass.
In today’s blog, we’re looking at all the important things to think about and check before you go and get your next MOT done.
Check the Date Since Your Last MOT
The very first thing you should check is when exactly it was your current MOT will run out. Each MOT certificate is valid for 12 months. Some people try to get their tests done earlier in the year while keeping the same expiration date because they think doing it earlier will increase their chances of passing. Unfortunately, this is not allowed. If you want to keep the same MOT renewal date, you can’t have your MOT any more than 30 days before your current one expires.
So, if your current MOT expires on the 15th of May 2022, then you can go to renew it anytime from the 16th of April and you’ll still keep the 15th of May expiry date. Check that the dates line up before you go booking your MOT.
Check All of Your Vehicle’s Lights and Signals
The most common reason by far that vehicle’s fail their MOT is that they have some kind of issue with lights, be it headlights, indicators, fog lights, or even just light coverings/housings that are too dirty and/or clouded up. Even hairline cracks in your light casings could result in failure. Therefore, check your lights before taking the car for an MOT.
The best way to do this is to enlist the help of a friend or neighbour who can confirm whether or not each light is working as you activate them one by one from the cockpit. Remember to check all lights: headlights, indicators, brake lights, tail lights, fog lights, daytime running lights, side lights, etc.
Is Your Suspension Playing Up?
Another very common reason that people fail the MOT is due to leaky shocks, snapped springs and other issues with their suspension systems. When you’re out on the road, listen out for strange noises when taking corners or driving on bumpy or uneven road surfaces. If you hear them, it might indicate you have a suspension problem.
Furthermore, while your car is parked, take a moment to check and see if it looks level on the ground. If one corner looks higher or lower than the others, then it may also indicate a suspension problem.
Take a Look at Your Brake Pads
The third most common reason for failing the MOT is linked to brakes, and especially brake pads being too worn. This accounts for 1 in 10 of all MOT failures. So, when you’re out on the road, listen for brakes squealing, or possibly grinding. Remember that the squeaky noise you hear from the brakes is there by design to warn you that your brake pads are getting dangerously thin.
Besides failing your MOT, if you leave the brake pads unchecked it makes your car increasingly unsafe, and will eventually grind on the rotors leaving you with a more complex and expensive repair job to deal with.
Check Driver Visibility
About 7.2 percent of MOT failures are linked to issues surrounding the road and surrounding visibility to the driver. Have you stocked your car with aftermarket products or decorations that are obscuring the view? Are there cracks or chips in the windscreen that you haven’t noticed before? Finally, does your bonnet close securely? If you’ve noticed your bonnet feeling loose, you might have thought nothing of it, but the MOT inspectors certainly will. If they feel that there’s even a small risk of the bonnet flying up and blocking your view on the road, they’ll fail you.
Take a Look at the Tyre Tread
Having insufficient tyre tread has been found to cause almost 8 percent of MOT failures in the UK. What’s most frustrating about this is that anyone with a 20-pence piece can check their tyre tread with ease and do something about the problem before being failed by the inspectors. Place a 20p coin into your tire tread. If your tread is deep enough, it will conceal the visible outer rim of the coin’s surface. If you can see the boundary line, then your tread is too thin.
You might think it impossible to fail this one since you can clearly see that your seat belts are there and you’ve seen for yourself that they work, right? Well, are there any knots in the belt strap? Have any of the belts come loose over the years? Does your car’s seat belt warning system work properly? If any of these are answered wrongly, then you can fail your MOT.
Rules on emissions are getting stricter. Perhaps 20 years from now when most of us are driving electric cars, we won’t worry about this, but for now, petrol and diesel cars have much cause for concern. Diesel cars in particular have to be well prepared for the MOT.
A good thing to do is to use a pre-MOT fuel treatment pack that will help you clean out the fuel system and create an accurate reading on the test that can be so confused by a dirty wider exhaust system. Use the kit and then give the car a good run on a dual-carriageway or the motorway to really clear out the worst of it before the test.