The Essential MOT Checklist

The Essential MOT Checklist

It is compulsory for every vehicle to clear a mechanical and emissions test to ensure that the car is safe to drive and does not cause excess pollution. This test is known as MOT test which has been named after the old Ministry of Transport.MOT

According to regulations, it is compulsory for a vehicle that is more than 3 years old to get an MOT test done every year. In this test, the condition of several essential parts of a car are inspected for safety and a certificate is given upon passing the MOT test that certifies the car as safe to be driven on the roads.

MOT’s can be undertaken only at authorised garages. Before you take your vehicle to such an authorised centre there are certain areas that you can check yourself in order to increase your chances of clearing the test. The following things are generally tested during an MOT:

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Registration plate
  • Exhaust system
  • Lights
  • Fuel system
  • Steering and suspension
  • Brakes
  • Wipers and washers
  • Wheels and tyres
  • Windscreen
  • Mirrors
  • Horn
  • Doors
  • Seatbelts and seats

What happens if your car fails its MOT?

During the MOT test, if a problem is found with any of the above checklist then your car will fail its MOT test and you will be given a VT30 certificate that will contain details of things that you need to rectify in your car. Another test will be scheduled and this time it will be a partial test in which the areas that were highlighted in the previous test are inspected.

The Essential MOT Checklist

  • LightsLights

Fact: As many as 30% of MOT failures are due to improper lighting.

For a car to be safe on the roads, functional lighting is crucial. Before taking your vehicle for an MOT test it is important that you check whether the front and rear lights are operating without any problems. Also, check that hazard lights, dipped lights, indicators, headlights and full beam lights are also operational.

Along with the lights being fully operational, it is also mandatory that they display the right colour according to their function. This makes it necessary for you to check if any colour coatings have peeled away. You may need to get a friend’s help or park against a reflective surface to confirm that there is no problem with lighting.

Registration plate lights, brake lights, fog lights, front and rear lights, indicators and rear reflectors must:

  • Illuminate with a single operation of the switch
  • Be in good condition
  • Not be obscured
  • Not be adversely affected by the operation of any other light
  • Show the correct colour
  • Be correctly positioned and secure


  • Car Exterior

Car ExteriorDuring the MOT test, a general inspection is carried out of the chassis, seats, doors, body and engine mountings. They should not be heavily corroded and there shouldn’t be any sharp edges which could potentially cause injury.

There should not be any visible damage to the registration plate that could make it difficult to read. The registration plate should be firmly fitted at the rear and front of a car. A person standing at a distance of 20 metres should be able to see the number clearly.

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should be displayed permanently either on a VIN plate attached to the vehicle or etched on the chassis or body of vehicle.

  • Emissions, exhausts and fuelEmissions, exhausts and fuel

The exhaust system is thoroughly inspected in an MOT test to ensure that it does not leak and that it is absolutely secure.

The tank cap should be able to seal properly and the system is checked for possible leaks.

A fuel analyser probe is used to test the smoke that is emitted from the exhaust while the engine is running. Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions must not exceed the legal limit.

  • Under the Bonnet

Under the BonnetThe battery should not show any visible damage that can cause leakage of electrolytes.




  • InteriorInterior

The horn should be loud enough so that it can be heard by another vehicle on the road and it should emit a continuous uniform note.

It is also important to inspect the car seats before the MOT test to ensure that they are in the correct positions. The seat belts too should be fully functional.

  • Tyres

TyresFact: 10% of MOT failures are due to tyres.

Before your car’s MOT test, you should get your tyre pressure checked. The ideal tyre pressure for your vehicle is specified on the doorjamb.

The most important thing checked in an MOT test related to tyres is the tread depth. It should not be below the limit of 1.6mm and should be consistent through at least 75% of the tyre surface. The tyres should be in a proper condition and if they have been through a lot of wear and tear then it is advisable to get your tyres changed before the test.

  • WindscreensWindscreens

Fact: 6.6% of MOT failures are due to issues related to mirrors, wipers and windscreens.

There should not be damage or anything that could potentially distract the attention of the driver on the road. Obstructions directly in the drivers view should not be larger than 10mm and those outside the view, but within the sweep area of wipers, should not be larger than 40mm.

The driver should not have difficulties in seeing objects at the side or rear of the vehicle. The wing mirrors and rear view mirrors should not have suffered any damage that blocks the driver’s view. Along with mirrors, the washers and wipers should be functional and sweep a wide enough area to give clarity to the driver about the road ahead in rough weather. The washer jets should not be obstructed and any blockage should be removed before the MOT test.

  • Brakes

BrakesFact: 9.6% of MOT failures are due to issues with the braking system

Needless to say, brakes are extremely important in any vehicle and they should be in the right condition before taking your vehicle for the MOT test. In the test the pedals, brakes and levers are inspected and a test is conducted to test the efficiency of braking system.

The above requirements are not only important from the MOT test perspective but also a necessary level of maintenance that ensures your safety when you’re out on the roads. To increase your chances of clearing the test you should either get your car serviced or take your vehicle to a garage that can conduct this test for you and rectify any possible problems that can show up during the test.

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