Mechanics doing an MOT test on a car


2 mins

10 pre-checks you should be doing before booking an MOT

December 9, 2023

Has your car ever failed its MOT? We understand how frustrating it can be when you end up having to pay for additional work you hadn’t previously budgeted for. We want to make things easier for you. So, we've compiled a list of the most common reasons your car could fail its MOT along with our top 10 tips for you to avoid this happening to you in the future.

Remember - if your MOT is due soon, sort it fast by downloading Caura. You can also book a car service or any repair work if you need to!

When does a car need an MOT?

Any car over three years needs to pass an MOT test every year. The test will act as an annual check-up on your car to make sure that it’s still safe to drive on the road. MOT tests do not detect vehicle health issues such as problems with the clutch or engine that could cause a vehicle breakdown in the future.

Find out more about what gets tested when your car goes for an MOT here.

It’s particularly important to remember that driving without an MOT is illegal. If caught, drivers could face up to £1,000 in fines in addition to points on your licence.

The four most common reasons your car could fail its MOT

1. Lighting and signalling

The most common cause of MOT failures is due to blown bulbs. Checks are done on all your vehicle’s lights, including the fog lights, indicators, and rear reflectors. Here’s what you can do to make sure you meet the test requirements:

  • Make sure the lights are positioned correctly and securely
  • Ensure the lights are not obscured
  • Check that pairs of lights (for example, your headlights) emit light of the same colour. A simple visual check should suffice.
  • Check that lights turn on with a single operation of the switch

2. Suspension issues

Springs, shock absorbers, suspension arms and joints will all be inspected during an MOT. This is one of the trickier ones to check yourself, but if it’s possible, double check both front and rear suspenders by making sure:

  • No split pins or nuts are missing
  • No components are excessively damaged or broken
  • Shock absorbers are secure and not leaking

3. Tyres

Your tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1.6mm to pass your MOT [1]. Key issues involving tyres include:

  • Damage
  • Distortion
  • Cracks
  • Loose attachment to the vehicle
  • Missing wheel nuts or studs

Conducting a basic check by walking around the car to check for any tyre damage is encouraged.

For a more thorough check of tyre tread, we highly recommend doing the '20p tyre test'. The way the test works is simple:

  1. Take a 20p coin and place it into the main tread grooves of your tyre.
  2. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit
  3. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be unsafe and should be checked by a qualified mechanic.
  4. Remember to check at least three locations around each tyre.

4. Brakes

Another common reason for MOT failures is faulty brakes. Checks are done to ensure:

  • Your brakes, pedals and levers are in good condition
  • Relevant warning lights are working
  • Your brakes are working effectively

Make sure to test all three things before sending your car for an MOT.

10 MOT pre-checks you can do yourself to minimise the risk of failing your test

We understand some checks can be quite tricky, so we've made a list of 10 checks you can do before you send your car off for its MOT:

  1. Some examiners refuse to carry out MOTs when your car is not clean. This includes both the inside and outside of your car! Make sure to de-clutter your car, including your boot, before you send your car for its MOT
  2. Number plates need to be readable to pass an MOT. Give them a quick clean
  3. Ensure windscreen wipers are in a good condition, with no wear and tear
  4. Check all your vehicle’s lights are in working order. Ask a friend or family member to stand outside and confirm that the lights function properly
  5. Remember to check tyre tread using the 20p tyre test
  6. Top up your screen wash fluid, brake fluid and oil
  7. Give the car horn a quick honk to make sure it's working properly
  8. Ensure that all your mirrors are intact and secure. Double check you can adjust them easily if you need to
  9. Make sure the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) in your car’s V5C logbook matches that marked on the bodywork of your car
  10. Check that the drivers seat slides back and forwards. It’s also important to check that all seat belts work properly and can be adjusted by tugging.
Book an MOT via Caura

Got an MOT due? Download Caura, head to the MOT tab and book an MOT near you!

In Caura, you can also manage upcoming renewals for things like your car tax and car insurance. We’ll send you reminders for when they’re due, and you can sort them directly in-app, too.

Download Caura on the Apple App Store or Google Play Store today!

Book an MOT, servicing or repair in Caura

[1] Tyre tread depth


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