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Pre-MOT checks – Do It Yourself

Do a few checks BEFORE you put your car in for an MOT

You’ve just used the MOT checker and your car’s MOT is about to expire – don’t panic. There’s some simple things to check yourself before booking your vehicle for an MOT.

If you have NO experience in car maintenance and would rather leave it all in the hands of the experts – do precisely that and book your car in for it’s MOT now.

Still here? good, that means you don’t mind taking a peek under your car’s bonnet and are prepared to check some basic MOT failure points before the test.

Simple pre MOT checks

The Basics – no skill required

There are some things that practically anyone can check before taking a car for an MOT. It’s really annoying if your car fails an MOT because there’s no windscreen washer water or the horn is not working. Things to check that require virtually no mechanical skill

  • Screen Wash is topped up and the jets are free to squirt
  • The Horn is working
  • The windscreen wipers are working and the rubber blades are free from damage
  • Check the seat belts are all free of damage for example fraying
  • Ensure the inertia device is working – pull firmly on the belt and check that it locks – and then releases when the pressure is removed
  • Check the grip on the tyres is more than 1.6mm (about the thickness of a 20p). Some tyres have wear indicators to help perform this check. The grip should be proud of the wear indicatorsWear Indicators on Yokohama tyres
  • Take a look at the tyres on the front and back. Check they are the same style, preferably make and model.
  • Does your car have a spare tyre? If so, it must be road legal
  • Check your lights for cracks or obvious damage
  • Test the headlights on all settings
  • Test the indicators
  • Test the brake lights
  • Test the reversing light
  • Test the registration plate light
  • Bodywork – check that there are no sharp edges or anything else that could hurt a pedestrian
  • Check you can open and close all doors from both inside and out

Braking System

The expert MOT mechanics have machines dedicated to testing the effectiveness of your brakes. But, just like the list above, there’s no point failing the MOT on something you can check. A little bit of auto knowledge is required here, but not too much. You need to know where the brake fluid reservoir is …

  • Check the level of brake fluid is between the minimum and maximum markers on the reservoir. If it’s too low, carefully top it up, or ask the garage to do that before they do the MOT
  • Pull the handbrake on and check it does not click more than a few times … if it clicks half a dozen times or more before engaging the handbrake it needs adjusting
  • To release the handbrake the button should not require excessive force

Steering, Exhaust and Shocks

Like the brakes, these can only really be tested by the MOT experts at the MOT test centre. You will often see people pressing down on each quarter corner of the car – lookign for excessive bounce, an indicator there’s a problem with a shock absorber. Personally, I’d leave these bits to the professionals


National Tyres and Autocare is the largest independent fast fit specialist in the UK. Our highly trained technicians are specialists in vehicle parts repair including tyres, exhausts, brakes, batteries, MOT testing and vehicle safety inspections. We have a network of over 200 branches throughout the UK.

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