Simple pre-MOTchecks to give your car the best chance of passing

Simple pre-MOTchecks to give your car the best chance of passing

Before you take your vehicle for its annual MOT test, be sure to carry out some simple checks to give your car the best chance of passing first time.

The top three reasons for failing an MOT are:

  • Lighting and Signalling – 18.7%
  • Brakes – 12.5%
  • Suspension –10.2%

Using a vehicle without a valid test certificate carries a maximum fine of £1,000.

If you are found to be driving with faulty lights, the police can issue a vehicle defect rectification notice (VDRN). If the fault is not fixed within 14 days, you can face prosecution, points on your licence and a fine.

The maximum fine which a court can impose for using a vehicle with a defective tyre is £2,500 and three penalty points.

Here is a checklist of things to look for before MOTing your vehicle:


  • Check that the front and rear lights are operational, as well as the headlights, dipped lights, hazards, indicators and the high beam indicator on the dashboard.
  • Some indicators and brake light bulbs have a colour coating on them that can peel off as the car gets older. If the bulb shines white, this can result in a fail.


  • You can do a quick check of the suspension by applying your weight to each corner of the vehicle and then releasing. If the shock absorbers are intact they should quickly settle back.


  • Check that your brakes are not loose or unresponsive, and that the rubber on the brake pedal isn’t worn away.
  • It is likely that there is a problem with your handbrake if it slides up without resistance. 


  • Check the pressure of your tyres before your MOT. The recommended pounds per square inch (psi) can usually be found on the driver’s side B-pillar (also known as the doorjamb), especially on all models post-2003.
  • The legal minimum for tyre tread is 1.6mm. Using the simple 20p coin test, you can place the coin on its side in the groove of tread. If the outer rim of the coin can be seen then your tyre is likely to fail.
  • The spare wheel is not part of the MOT test.


  • Blocked washer jets can result in a fail. This can be easily fixed with a needle to free any blockages that are stopping the flow of screen wash.
  • Check for any damage to the driver’s side windscreen in the wiper area. Damage should not exceed 10mm on this side, or 40mm on the rest of the windscreen for your vehicle to pass its MOT. You can usually get any windscreen damage fixed for free through comprehensive car insurance.
  • Wipers need to be checked for tears or any other damage. In conjunction with the washers, they should be able to clear the windscreen easily.


  • Start your engine (in a well-ventilated area) and listen out for any unusual noises or smoke coming from the exhaust. Can you see any corrosion? Get this fixed pre-MOT.


  • Failing your MOT because the fluids in your car are not filled up is embarrassing. Pre-MOT, make sure that you have the recommended levels of brake fluid, screen wash and oil reserves. These should always be checked when the car is on a level surface and the engine is cold.


  • You are legally required to have one side mirror and a rear-view mirror unless your vehicle was first used before 1st August 1978. It is advisable to have both wing mirrors intact.
  • Check the condition of the glass – no sharp edges or chips affecting visibility.


  • Make sure all seatbelts in your car are fully functional and are free from fraying or other damage. Each seatbelt should lock and release easily.


  • Both front doors need to open from the inside and outside and securely latch into the closed position.


  • A horn must be present and clearly audible to other motorists and pedestrians.

Registration Plate

  • Make sure you have registration plates on the front and rear of your vehicle.
  • Give them a quick wipe to make sure the numbers and letters are clearly visible.

Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)

  • This should be legibly displayed on the vehicle, usually visible on the driver’s side windscreen and on the driver’s B-pillar. 


  • Check the bodywork of your vehicle for any signs of corrosion or damage. Are there any sharp edges?
  • Excessive corrosion within 12 inches of a structural component or the vehicles frame is not allowed.


  • Check that the fuel cap is secure and can be removed with ease
  • You will also need to have enough fuel in the car for the test centre to perform some of their tests.