How to make sure you pass your MOT
An MOT test checks that vehicles meet road safety and environmental standards. Your vehicle – whether it's a car, scooter, motorbike or any other type – has to have its first MOT when it reaches three years old (unless it's a taxi, in which case the rules are different). A further MOT test is then required each year.
If your car passes its MOT you are issued with an MOT certificate which shows that at the time of the check, without dismantling it, the vehicle met all of the minimum legal acceptable environmental and road safety standards.
Where to go for an MOT
There are approximately 19,000 garages across the UK that are authorised as MOT test stations. These display the blue three triangles logo. By law, the maximum fee for the test has to be displayed on a poster inside every test station (£50.35 is the current standard fee, while motorbikes are charged £23.80) - although the MOT centre can charge less than the amount on the poster if they wish to.
Potential extra costs
The MOT fee only covers the cost of testing your vehicle. If you need work carried out on top of this, your garage bill can quickly amount to a lot more. There are steps you can take before your MOT is due to increase the odds of it passing, however – potentially reducing the overall costs.
Reduce potential costs by checking your own car before the MOT
At the MOT, the mechanic checks the vehicle identification number (VIN) and runs checks on the body/vehicle structure; fuel system; exhaust system and emissions; seat belts; seats; doors; mirrors; load security; brakes; tyres and wheels; registration plates; lights; bonnet; wipers and washers; windscreen condition; and horn.
If any problems are discovered, your car will fail its MOT and you won't receive your MOT certificate until the problems are resolved. It is illegal to drive without an MOT certificate.
You may be able to run the following checks yourself before the MOT test, and get any problems fixed in advance to avoid your vehicle failing:
- Vehicle Identification number (VIN) and registration: Make sure your registration and VIN match the numbers in your car’s V5C Registration Certificate (or 'logbook').
- Clean up your car: Show that your car is well-maintained by washing and tidying it.
- Tyres: Check tyre pressure and depth of tread. The tread must be at least 1.6mm, ideally more, so replace any tyres if they fall short.
- Lights: Check headlights, rear lights, fog lights, brake lights, hazard lights and indicator lights are all working, and replace any broken bulbs - it's cheaper to buy and fit a new bulb yourself than pay a mechanic to do it.
- Windscreen washers and wiper blades: If they are worn, replace them – and top up your screenwash.
- Seats and seatbelts: Check these are not worn or damaged, and replace them yourself if they are.
- Brake fluid: Press your brake pedal and check whether it feels 'spongy'; this could indicate that there is air in the hydraulic system. You can remove air by bleeding, with a bit of know-how – although you'll probably need a good car jack.
- Air filters and spark plugs: Find your air filter and spark plugs and replace them if they look dirty or worn.
- Mirrors / horn / petrol cap: Make sure all your mirrors are in place; the horn is working; and the seal around the petrol cap isn’t worn.