| Wednesday 13th January 2021 9:15am
All cars that are over three years old need an MOT test every 12 months to prove that theyíre roadworthy. Unfortunately for drivers, many vehicles fail these assessments for minor issues that could easily have been addressed if checks had been carried out beforehand. In fact, research from HonestJohn.co.uk suggested that one in six cars fail their first MOT tests, with lighting, brakes and tyres found to be among the most common problem areas.
So, if you want to avoid the hassle and expense of getting your car repaired and retested following a failed MOT check, it pays to prepare. Here are some of the key areas you should focus on when getting your vehicle ready for its annual check.
What checks are done on an MOT?
The MOT checks everything thatís considered Ďsafety criticalí, this includes things such as brakes and seatbelt conditions. You can see some of the updated checks on this page about the 2018 MOT updates, but read on to see what checks you can do at home.
Your tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.6mm. Anything below this is illegal - so itís important to check this detail before your next MOT check. You can use a special depth gauge to measure the tread, or simply slot a 20p coin in between the grooves. If you can see the rim of the coin extending beyond the tread, youíll need new tyres. Itís also essential to check the general condition of your tyres. Look out for any cuts or bulges in the sidewalls, as well as any objects that may be embedded in the rubber. Defects like this could mean your tyres need to be replaced.
Each tyre should be the same as the opposite one on the same axle in terms of construction type and size, so check this too - and if your car comes with a spare tyre, ensure this meets the legal requirements as well.
All your lights must be working correctly, so itís a good idea to take a careful look at them before you head to your MOT test centre. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to get someone to help you by standing by your car as you turn the lights on individually. Make sure you pay attention to all lights, including your stop lights, rear and front side lights, rear and front fog lights, reversing lights, indicators and registration plate lights.
If any of these bulbs donít come on, youíll need to get them replaced.
You canít do a full check of your brakes without specialist equipment, but there are some basic checks you can do to help you pick up on potential problems with this vital safety system. For example, you can make sure that the fluid level in the reservoir of the brake system is sitting between the minimum and maximum indicators.
If youíre not sure where this reservoir is, take a look in your vehicleís handbook. Pay attention to how your car feels when you apply the brakes while driving too. If the steering wheel judders when you press the brakes, this could be a sign that you have warped brake discs, while if your brake pedal depresses too easily, this may indicate a hydraulic fault. Your car pulling to one side when you brake can also suggest a problem.
If you suspect that somethingís wrong, itís wise to book a free brake check with a technician who will be able to advise if you have a fault and, if you do, offer advice on the best steps to take.
Mirrors and windscreen
Small imperfections in your windscreen wonít lead to automatic MOT failure, but there are certain issues that you need to be aware of. For example, if you have a crack or chip in the area swept by your windscreen wipers, you will fail the test. This whole section of glass must be free from these weak spots. Meanwhile, any damage outside of this area canít exceed 1cm in diameter.
Itís also important to know that all of your mirrors should be in good condition and securely fixed in place.
There are some fairly straightforward checks you can perform on your exhaust before an MOT. For example, ensure this part of your vehicle isnít corroded. Listen out for any unusual noises or rattling when your engine is running too. You can do this by revving the engine while youíre stationary with your parking brake on and your doors open.
Itís also important to bear in mind that if you spot smoke coming from your exhaust, you may fail the emissions section of the test - so youíll need to get this looked at.
Your bodywork doesnít have to be in perfect condition, but if there are any sharp edges around your car that could injure pedestrians, you should get this fixed before your test. Also, make sure your bumpers are fully secured, and check that all doors are working both from outside and inside. This is to ensure safe access into and out of your vehicle.
Other general checks you can do ahead of your MOT check include ensuring that the horn is working properly and testing that the windscreen wipers and washers are functioning correctly. In addition, your seatbelts should operate effectively and not be cut or frayed.
Ensure your vehicle is serviced properly
Once these checks are done, youíll be in a great place for your MOT check. However, if you want more peace of mind, then have your car fully serviced at your local Kwik Fit centre. You can even book a combined appointment, where our experts will go through every servicing area before running the MOT test.
At Kwik Fit, weíre experts when it comes to MOT tests. You can book your next test at one of our centres near you. We have more than 500 MOT test centres located throughout the UK, with many open seven days a week for total convenience. Simply enter your vehicle registration and click Ďsearchí to view and book online today.
Kwik Fit also provide a free MOT reminder service, so you don't have to worry about missing your due date!
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