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26 Mar 2020
Jamie Gibbs Alice Campion

MOT checklist: how to keep your car roadworthy

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Garage mechanic

The government has announced a six-month exemption from MOT testing to aid essential travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

From 30 March, all car, motorbike and van MOT expiry dates will be extended by six months

So if your MOT was due on 1 April, it'll now be due on 1 October. The new MOT date won't appear until your original expiry date has passed.

This means drivers can continue to travel to work if working from home isn’t possible. The extension will run until March 2021.

If your MOT expires before 30 March, you should still book an MOT if you're able to do so. Visit GOV.UK for more information.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

“We must ensure those on the frontline of helping the nation combat COVID-19 are able to do so.

“Allowing this temporary exemption from vehicle testing will enable vital services such as deliveries to continue, frontline workers to get to work, and people to get essential food and medicine.

“Safety is key, which is why garages will remain open for essential repair work.”

Remember, during this time you should only leave your home for reasons set out in the government guidance.

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

You should also keep your vehicle in a roadworthy condition, as you can still be prosecuted for driving an unsafe vehicle.

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

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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