Thursday, 14 March 2013

MOT Test? How to Pass First Time!!

MOT Test sign
MOT Test Sign

UPDATE!! Due to changes in the MOT please use this article in conjuction with the extra items on the following article!!!

Update 2 I have now uploaded a full checklist which you can download below. Use it with the information in this article. 

Is it that time of the year again? The ruddy MOT is due on your car and with money tighter than ever we all would like our car to pass first time. Hopefully you've come across my Blog in search of some advice to help your car pass it's MOT Test. As an MOT Tester my self I thought I would pass on my knowledge of what we testers look at during the MOT Test and provide you with a handy checklist to enable you to take your car to it's next test fully prepared.

Let's start with an explanation of the MOT Test so we know exactly what we are dealing with.

The MOT Test is an annual vehicle test in the U.K. During the MOT Test your vehicle is tested to the minimum standards as layed out in the MOT Inspection manual, a copy of which can be found in PDF format here MOT Test Manual

If your car fails it's MOT it can lead to costly repairs, re-test fees and delays in taxing or insuring your car.

So what can you do to help your car pass its MOT Test first time?

Well you could trawl through the inspection manual I linked earlier, or you could follow my easy to follow checklist a copy of which is downloadable HERE. The checklist is best used in conjunction with the following information.

 I understand most people don't have access to a ramp. So let's look at what you can check your self at home.
MOT Test What's tested and checked
MOT Test What's Covered

Seats And Seat Belts

Shake the seats with a bit of force. Are they secure? We allow for some movement in the runners during the MOT but loose securing bolts that's a big no-no.

Pull the seats belts all the way out, can you see any cuts or incomplete stitching? Slight fluffing and fraying is acceptable but cuts and repairs e.g. with a lighter are unacceptable. Check the seatbelts clip in to there clips and check they release correctly.

Warning Lamps

Are there there any warning lamps on on the dash? ABS light, SRS Light, Engine Management Light, Tyre pressure warning. (Check out this Blog How to Fix Engine Management Light)or any other malfunction indicators. If there are it is always worth getting these checked out first.


Check all the switches in the vehicle and check the function correctly and as expected. I.e. Light switches, Wipers, Horn. 

Wipers and Washers

Do your wipers work? Do they clear the screen effectively? Are the wiper blades split? Is your washer bottle full? The rear wiper doesn't currently come into the MOT Test but its worth checking anyway.

Brake Controls

Is the brake pedal secure and the pedal rubber intact and fitted correctly?

Check the brake servo operation as follows.

With the engine off pump the brake pedal until it goes hard, press and hold it down while starting the engine check that the pedal travel increase when the engine is started but also check that the pedal doesn't go all the way to the floor. 

Does the park brake work as intended? Apply the park brake and give it a shake. Make sure it doesn't release accidentally. Make sure the park brake doesn't come up to the end of its travel.

Steering Wheel and Column 

Grab hold of the steering wheel give it a good shake back and forth, side to side, up and down, check that there is no movement in the column of play in the steering column bearings.


Check the open and close correctly. Make sure the front doors open from the inside and outside. Check the doors are secure.


Check that the mirrors are all present, check they are secure, check the mirror glasses are not broken.


Press the Horn switch. Does the Horn work? It shouldn't sound harsh or grating, it should be one single tone. I.e no Dixie horn or other music.

Speedometer (New to the MOT Test as of 20th March 2013)

Check the speedometer operation. Check it illuminates with the side lamps.

Number Plates

Are they readable do they conform to the regulations layed down HERE.


Check all lights work correctly. Make sure the lights are not damaged. Check the tell tales on the dash work i.e fog lamp, main beam, indicators and hazard warning tell tales.

The headlamps require the aim to be checked, this must be done using specialised equipment and can be adjusted during the MOT Test so don't get to hung up on this.

Wheels and Tyres

Are the wheels secure, not damaged or buckled? Are the tyres legal? The minimum tread depth of the tyres for cars is 1.6mm. More can be found HERE.

Shock Absorbers

Bounce on each corner of the car, let go. Does the bouncing stop? or is it to stiff to bounce? if not you may have faulty shock absorbers.

Fuel Cap

Does it fit correctly, is the seal intact, are there any leaks? Some types of temporary fuel caps are unacceptable on the the MOT Test.


Does it secure properly, and can you open it? A bonnet which cannot be opened is a reason to refuse to carry out an MOT Test on a car.

Tow Bars

Are they secure and id the wiring plug fitted and working (13 pin plugs on newer vehicles are testable)

Body Condition

Is there any damage that is either causing loose body parts, sharp edges or projections. Is there any corrosion? A vast area of the car is testable for corrosion on the MOT Test. Only certain areas are allowed to have excessive corrosion.

Fluid Levels

Check the fluid levels under the bonnet, i.e.  brake fluid, engine oil, steering fluid and engine coolant. If any of these are bellow the minimum marks it will be worth getting the system checked out as low fluid level could indicate a problem.

Well unfortunately that's about all you can check with out access to a ramp, emission's tester or brake tester.  

I hope you found this post informative. Do you have any suggestions on how I could improve it, or have you got an MOT Test story to tell? Please leave a comment.

Once again my easy DIY Checklist is available HERE.


  1. Great article, will come in very handy before I take my car to Moto Logic. There's certainly a lot of things to check before I have my MOT!

  2. For me MOT Test is important and neccessary because the safetiness of the passengers is the primary concern.
    MOT Berkshire