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29 Jun 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

MOT checklist: how to keep your car roadworthy

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Garage mechanic

If your MOT is due from 1 August, make sure you book your car in for a test.

On the 30 March, all car, motorbike and van MOT expiry dates were extended by six months

With some lockdown restrictions easing, the government has reintroduced MOT tests from 1 August

Drivers are being urged to book their MOT tests as soon as possible. This is a legal requirement. 

If your MOT is due before 1 August, you will still be exempt for 6 months. For example if your MOT is due on 31 July, it’ll be extended to 31 January 2021.

Even if your car is exempt, you should still take it to a garage if there's a problem. You can be prosecuted for driving a vehicle that isn't roadworthy. 

If you're vulnerable or self isolating and your car needs a repair or an MOT, speak to your garage. They may be able to offer a safe pick up and drop off solution.

To keep an eye on your MOT end date and get a notification when it's due, download our app.

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Roads Minister Baroness Vere said:

“As people return to our roads, it is vital that motorists are able to keep their vehicles safe. That’s why as restrictions are eased, from 1 August MOT testing will again become mandatory.

Garages across the country are open and I urge drivers who are due for their MOT to book a test as soon they can.”

If you're not sure when your MOT is due, you can check it with our MOT status tool.

You'll need to make sure your car has valid tax too. Find out how to tax your car.

 

Here are some things you can do at home to keep your car safe and roadworthy. 

MOT checklist

A mechanic would usually check these areas: 

  • Vehicle identification number (VIN)

  • Registration plate

  • Lights

  • Steering and suspension

  • Wipers and washers

  • Windscreen

  • Horn

  • Seat belts and seats

  • Doors

  • Mirrors

  • Wheels and tyres

  • Brakes

  • Fuel system

  • Exhaust system

  • Vehicle emissions

Often a car fails its MOT test because of a simple fault that's easily solved. 

Man holding car headlight

Here’s some checks you can do at home:

Lights

Check if all lights are working correctly. This includes: 

  • Rear lights 

  • Fog lights

  • Brake lights

  • Indicator lights

  • Hazard lights

 If you've any bulbs that have blown, check your car’s manual to see if you can replace them yourself.

Check that all warning lights on your dash are working too.

READ MORE: Dashboard warning lights explained

Vehicle body and tyres

Take a look at the petrol inlet filler cap. The petrol inlet is where the fuel goes, and the filler cap is what you screw onto it. Look out for any damage to the seal around the cap.

Check if the horn works. It should be loud and clear.

Test the brakes, handbrake and steering wheel. The steering wheel shouldn’t feel loose, and the handbrake shouldn’t pull up too high.

Check all tyres are the correct pressure. Also, check if the tyre tread depth is at least 1.6mm – the legal limit.

READ MORE: How to check your tyre pressure and tread depth

Windows and mirrors 

Nothing should obstruct your view of the road. Check wiper blades for damage. If they're worn, you can replace them yourself using your vehicle handbook for reference. 

Remove sat nav cradles, stickers and air fresheners if they block your view. 

Mirrors should be secure and intact.

Cleaning your car 

Registration plates must be readable and in good condition. If you own a personalised number plate, make sure it still meets the DVLA’s requirements.

Make sure the car is presentable, inside and out. If your car is dirty and full of clutter the tester can refuse to carry out the inspection.

Documentation

The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) should match the VIN in your car’s log book. 

READ MORE: The essential paperwork you need to check when buying a used car

What happens after the test?

When the tests eventually resume, you'll get a list with everything the mechanic has tested along with the result. The result will either be: 

  • Pass

  • Pass with advisories 

  • Pass with minor faults

  • Fail with major or dangerous faults

MOT check

What if your car fails its MOT?

If your car comes back with major or dangerous faults, you’ll have to get each issue fixed before you use the car. 

Once fixed you'll need to MOT your car again. This time they’ll only test the faults discovered during the first test.

The MOT test can also identify other, less immediate problems. These will appear as ‘minor faults’ on your certificate. 

Minor faults aren’t yet serious enough to cause your car to fail its MOT. For example, if you have worn tyres, but they're not worn below the legal limit.

After an MOT your pockets might be a little lighter. But it’s a good idea to get the minor faults sorted a month or so after the initial test. 

That way the faults won’t develop and put you in danger. You stand a better chance of passing it the following year too.

MOT check

What happens when I pass my MOT?

Your garage will give you an MOT test certificate and you’re legal to drive off. Hurrah!

Your test centre will send the results to a central database. Here, you can check the MOT status of your vehicle whenever you need to or set up an email alert to remind you when it's due. 

Check-ups and servicing are great for keeping your car healthy, so it's wise to keep them up.  That way you stand better chance of passing your MOT, and spread out the cost of repairs. 

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