Mechanic checking a car
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Our guide to help you ensure that you pass your MOT check

If your car is due its MOT check soon, you might want to give it the once-over yourself to see if you can spot anything that needs fixing.

Rectifying any issues before having your car MOT checked could increase your car’s chances of passing the test, saving you time and money in the long term.

Several changes have been introduced to the MOT check on the 20th of May 2018[1]. These changes mean that it is now harder for diesel cars to pass, as the UK comes in line with a European Union directive that establishes stricter emission controls. 

The new MOT rules also introduce a new classification for faults as Minor, Major or Dangerous. A Minor fault will be something that isn’t serious enough to make the car fail, but which needs to be repaired; a Major fault will need to be repaired before the car can be retested and a Dangerous fault will make it illegal to drive the car on public roads.

To help you make sure your car is ready for its next MOT, we’ve created this handy checklist:

Car interior checks

  • Does it need a clean?If your car is dirty and cluttered, the tester is within their rights to refuse to test it. It doesn’t need to look perfect, but it can be worth getting out the hoover, removing rubbish and giving the dashboard and handbrake a quick polish.
  • Pop your bonnet and take a look at your engine - Top up your oil and brake fluid if running low. If anything looks to be leaking or loose, get a mechanic to take a look.
  • Check that your horn works– It needs to be loud and clear.
  • Test your handbrake, brakes and steering wheel are working as they should– If they’re not, ask a mechanic to investigate and fix. As part of the new test rules, steering systems are now checked and any large-scale leak will result in a fail.
  • Are any of the warning lights on the dashboard on? - If so, you’ll need to fix any issue so that the light goes off.
  • Are your mirrors legal? If your rear-view mirror is stuck on with tape, it could fall off while you’re driving and cause an accident. If any of your mirrors are smashed or cracked, get them repaired.
  • Is your speedometer working? If it isn’t, this is very dangerous as you could be driving over the speed limit without realising.
  • Do your seats need fixing? The front seats shouldn’t move of their own accord once you start driving. They must stay in the position you’ve set them in. The backrests must always be in an upright position and locked.
  • Are any of your seatbelts damaged? - All seatbelts need to work properly or you could be putting your life and the lives of your passengers in danger if you have a crash. If any of your seatbelts are in less than perfect condition, get them replaced. 


Car exterior checks

  • Take a close look at your windscreen – Do you have any chips or cracks that need fixing? Do your wiper blades work properly or do they need replacing? If you’re running low on windscreen washer, now is the time to top it up. Remove any stickers or decorations if they’re blocking your view, or could be described as being a distraction.
  • Make sure your registration plate is legal - If you have a personalised number plate with a different background, the wrong font or incorrect spacing it could result in you failing your MOT, so swap it pronto. All registration plates have to meet set standards. They also have to be clearly visible, so wipe off any dirt.
  • If you drive a diesel car, make sure there’s no smoke – Following the recent MOT changes, any diesel car that is emitting “visible smoke of any colour” will fail the test. Testers will also be checking if the diesel particulate filter (DPF) on your car has been removed or tampered with - if such a modification has occurred and the tester can’t determine a legitimate reason for it, your car will fail the test.
  • Check your tyres - Are they the right type? Are they in good condition? Is there at least 1.6mm tread depth on each type? If you’re unsure, you should go and ask at a garage or use a tread gauge.
  • Confirm that all of your doors work properly – They need to open and close, and remain closed until opened again. Your doors shouldn’t get stuck or open randomly as this could be dangerous.
  • Bounce' each corner of your car, one corner at a time – If it doesn’t settle within a couple of bounces you might need a mechanic to look at your suspension.
  • Is the exhaust attached properly? - If your car makes a rattling sound, it could mean that your exhaust needs looking at.
  • See whether all of your lights work - Do any of your bulbs need replacing? Ask someone to turn your lights on individually while you walk around your car so you can check. If they flicker they’ll need tightening and if they’re misty, give them a clean.
  • Is your fuel cap damaged? - Is the seal split? It might seem like a small thing but having a cracked fuel cap or spilt in your seal could result in your car failing its MOT, so replace it.
  • Do you need to fill it up? – If you arrive at the MOT test near empty, the tester may turn you away, so make sure you have fuel in your car - they aren’t going to top it up for you.


Do I have to have an MOT?

It is illegal to drive without an MOT, except under these specific circumstances:

  • You are driving to a pre-booked MOT appointment;
  • Your car is less than three years old;
  • Your car is over forty years old – making it a classic car and, therefore, exempt from the MOT check.


If none of the above exceptions applies to you, your car must pass an MOT every year to confirm that it’s roadworthy.

If you’re caught by the police without a valid MOT certificate, you risk being fined. If it goes to court, you could be fined up to £1,000 and your car might even be impounded.  If your car is in a dangerous condition, the fine could go up to £2,500.

It is also a legal requirement for you to have valid car insurance to drive your car. To get a quote for Rias car insurance, please click here >