Taking your car for its annual MOT plays a key part in its lifespan, ensuring it is functioning properly and roadworthy for a safe year of driving ahead. A car can fail its exam for any number of things, many of which are minor faults that are completely avoidable with a little bit of preparation and effort.
According to 2015 data from the government, 38.3% of cars, vans, and small passenger vehicles initially did not pass their MOT test. Looking closer at these failures, 18.4% were down to issues with lighting and signals, and 7.4% suffered from a problem with their tyres. These are both areas that contain quite a few common issues that can be remedied before the exam, yet are often missed by the owner.
With this in mind, we’ve put together our pick of five different checks or fixes that are easy to carry out and could save your vehicle from the dreaded fail. Read on to find out more.
Carry Out A Tyre Check
Your tyres play an essential role in keeping you safe, ensuring that you are able to securely grip the road while moving. For this reason, they come under quite a lot of scrutiny in the MOT test, making them a worthy case for your attention before you take your car to the garage.
The first thing you should look for is any indicators of tyre damage, such as lumps or cuts, which are the first thing that will stand out. If there is none, you should take a moment to carry out the ‘20p test’ for tread depth, as outlined in this instructional video from Tyresafe — this will ensure they are over the legal 1.6mm minimum.
They also need to be properly inflated to the recommended pressure for your model. You can find this information in your vehicle’s user’s manual, and your tyres can be topped up at almost every petrol or service station.
Fix Any Broken Lights
The most common cause of MOT failure is an issue with a car’s lighting, which is a shame as they are one of the easiest items to check and fix. Because of this, they should definitely be on your agenda when it comes to pre-exam maintenance.
You will need to check the following: headlights (both main beam and dipped), sidelights, indicators, brake lights, number plate light, fog lights, and hazard lights. The quickest way to check them is to turn them on individually and have someone check, but if you need to, you can park near a wall to look for the glow of the lights from the driver’s seat.
If you find any issues, it is usually very simple to swap out your old bulb for a new one. Buying your own and fitting them will also avoid any mark-up that could be tagged on from a garage. Take a look at this guide to fitting a new lightbulb in your car from DriveDen, which includes a step-by-step plan of how to go about installing replacement bulbs.
Check You Have Enough Fuel And Oil
When it comes to your MOT exam, you need to make sure that the mechanic who will be carrying it out has enough fuel and oil to run your vehicle for the duration. It might sound obvious, but there are plenty of drivers who have been turned away because they have not filled up beforehand.
Topping up your fuel and engine oil should be high on your agenda, and to be safe its best to do so until both are full. You should be familiar with how to add fuel to your car, but oil can prove to be trickier unless you are familiar with the process. You will need to check your level as well as refill if necessary — take a minute or two to read our handy guide, which will keep you right.
Review The Condition Of Your Seatbelts
Your safety belts are an crucial part of your vehicle, and therefore come in for a lot of scrutiny during an MOT test. Because of this, you should undertake a thorough inspection of their condition before you hand your keys over.
Start with a visual inspection of every inch of the belts, looking for any signs of fraying or tearing in the material. Next, move onto the locking mechanism, which should engage and disengage properly without any sticking. It should only release when the button is depressed.
Finally, try tugging sharply on each belt to see if they are able to lock into place securely, preventing any forward movement.
Make Sure Your Car Is In A Pleasant Condition
It might sound a bit silly, but a mechanic can actually refuse to carry out an MOT test because of the poor cleanliness of your vehicle. If they deem it as unhygienic or in poor condition, they have every right to refuse the exam, often meaning you will lose your fee.
Make the effort to clear out the interior of your car if it is a bit messy, and pay a visit to a car wash for a quick exterior clean before heading to the garage. This way, you will avoid the embarrassing situation of having to present an unpleasant vehicle for inspection.
Take these five tips on board before your next MOT and you could avoid a failure or refusal of service for a fault that you can fix yourself.
Blog Posted: 13th January 2017.