Six simple MoT checks you can do to pass first time

Rover SD1 ay AJF Engineering getting its 2012 MoT
Rover SD1 getting its MoT

MoTs are there for a reason; to keep our roads, our vehicles and most importantly ourselves safe and are something that should never be overlooked. MoTs are simply in place to ensure that your car is safe to drive, in good working order as well as highlight any potential hazards that may arise.

Checks To Keep You Safe

As with many things, cheap may not always be cheerful and it’s essential that you book an MoT with a fully-qualified and experienced MoT Centre. MoTs have come a long way since they were first introduced in the 1960s, now encompassing a number of aspects from braking, lighting and steering to engine efficiency, emissions and sophisticated electrical diagnostics.

While you may not be a grease monkey or petrol head, there are a few simple checks you can carry out to help your vehicle pass first time…

1: Lights

Make sure you check that all your external and internal bulbs are working. That includes headlights, sidelights, rear light, indicators, brake lights and hazard lights. Any bulbs that do not appear to be working, make sure you replace these straight away. If you have trouble fitting them, call in the experts.

2: Brake Fluid

An essential requirement of any vehicle, make sure that your brakes does not feel spongy when pressed. Modern brakes work by hydraulics so it is important to top up brake fluid levels and identify if there is any air trapped. This can be removed by bleeding.

3: Tyres

Feel and check that your tyres are not damaged or worn. If they look worn, check the tread depth is above the minimum requirement of 1.6mm. It is recommended that tyres are changed when the tread reaches 3mm so if you are unsure, have a technician look at your tyres.

4: Windscreen Wipers and Screenwash

Windscreen wipers should operate smoothly and be sure to replace them the wiper is rubbing or appears to be smudging the screen. Top up your screenwash too if it appears low. Also any damage to your windscreen and mirrors could result in a ‘Fail’ so make sure you look for any cracks and chips.

5: Horn

HONK! Make sure your horn works, if not it will need replacing!

6: Clean and Final Checks

Finally, give your car a clean – inside and out. This will help give the right impression, as well as create a welcoming and refreshing environment for your mechanic. Finally, double check that your seatbelts lock when tugged aggressively as well as other signs or damage.

You don’t have to be an expert in cars to get the basics right and by taking the time to carry out a few simple checks yourself, you can increase your chances of a ‘PASS’ first time. If you are unsure, always acquire the expertise of a reputable and specialist MoT Centre and address any potential problems sooner rather than later.

Brought to you by Viking Auto Garage; a servicing, repair and MoT specialist garage.

Keith Adams


  1. “5: Horn
    HONK! Make sure your horn works, if not it will need replacing!”
    Well that is not quite true is it? A fuse could have blown, a connection could be corroded.

  2. NI MOT usually recommends getting the car cleaned on the underside.

    Headlight alignment usually gets me, I’m never quite sure how to get this correctly.

  3. “book an MoT with a fully-qualified and experienced MoT Centre” Let me know where I can find a partially qualified MOT station !!!

    I would add get your car serviced as per manufacturers recommendation or at least once a year if its an older vehicle (over 5 years old). The manufacturers deliberately have long service intervals to attract the fleet buyer. Once a car has 50,000 miles under its belt itse sensible to get it serviced at least once a year if you want it to last and be safe

  4. @Andy Sullivan

    Good practice to have indeed!
    If not twice a year oil changes (especially if running high miles)

    Though is it necessary to get a car serviced for MOT?
    I’ve known people who think it is part and parcel of the MOT preparation, but I’m not sure what an oil change can do towards an MOT.

    Perhaps the yearly test is a good reminder of ‘servicing time’, and people’s mechanics will likely point out any MOT failing problems.

  5. I ran into the back of my friend’s Volvo once, we bodged a repair & re-aligned the headlights using my Dad’s garage door. Headlight alignment was fine on the MOT. So I guess that there must be a certain margin of error permitted when it comes to headights.

    Logical really since they don’t expect a full 8mm of tread on the tyre, just an acceptable level.

    I always have cleaned my car inside & out before an MOT. I have this theory that an MOT tester will be less vigilant with a car that looks like it is well cared for!

  6. The Celica is up for MOT next week.

    Front tyres are just about legal, but I might replace them (and look into a set of winter tyres) before winter starts to really hit.

    Check engine light was on (a new MOT check), turned out to be the MAF connection just needed pushed back in – the garage replacing the radiator must’ve had the air intake out.

    New wipers would do the trick too – they’re starting to streak.

  7. I’m much more thorough than this list, I jack my car up and have a good poke around underneath like the MOT tester does, I look at bushes, springs, boots, I look for any rust or corrosion in inner sills, chassis members, around suspension mounting points, brake pipes, I check brake discs and pads, security of underbody pipes, because these are all the other kinds of things they try to nail you with and if you know all of that is in perfect condition, you can argue with them and normally get a pass, I also make sure I check emissions as well, with my wee Gunson exhaust gas analyser, surprisingly accurate! I’ve been turned over too many times by overzealous and crooked MOT testers and Garages to take their crap anymore, I make sure the car is A1 fit before I take it for MOT, and as a result I’ve had a 0 failure rate for 7 years! And touch wood it stays that way!

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