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How to pass your MOT first time

If your car is over three years old, you’ll need to book it in for an MOT every 12 months to ensure that it meets environmental and road safety standards. It may be a bit of a hassle, but it’s a legal requirement to make sure that your car is roadworthy, so it’s your responsibility to make sure it gets carried out.

An MOT covers many different checks on your car, including mirrors, seat belts, windscreen wipers, brakes and lights. However, it doesn’t cover checking the clutch, gearbox or engine, so if you’ve spotted any faults with those you will need to get them investigated separately.

Typically, an MOT will take around an hour – unless it fails, in which case repairs will need to be made. However, unless your current MOT certificate is still valid, or if you need to take the vehicle elsewhere for repairs, the test centre isn’t allowed to let you take your car if it needs repairs.

If your MOT is on the horizon, there are a few steps that you can take to boost your chances of passing first time. Most cars fail because of minor faults, such as not having the screen wash topped up. So, if you check your vehicle beforehand, you may be able to fix them yourself, saving time and money.

  • Lights – Ask someone to check that the brake lights come on when you press the brake pedal. Test your headlights on full and dipped beams, and your hazard lights and indicators. If any of them are not working, you can purchase replacement bulbs and fit them yourself.
  • Tyres – The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm, so anything less than this and your car will fail straight away. Damage such as splits in the tread can also issue a fail, so replace your tyres if they are looking worn. Make sure that your tyre pressure is correct, too – the correct PSI will be listed in your car manual.
  • Windscreen wipers – The wiper blades need to be in good condition and be able to clean the windscreen effectively, so if you spot any tears or holes, they will need to be replaced. Check your screen wash levels while you’re there, too!
  • Windscreen – Generally speaking, a chip smaller than around 10mm in front of the driver won’t be classed as a fail, but anything bigger in the central view, or any chips larger than around 40mm anywhere on the windscreen, will be.
  • Exhaust – You can usually tell if your exhaust is leaking by the sound it emits, or if it starts smoking abnormally, so start the engine in a well-ventilated place and check the rear of the car. However, you should note that not all exhaust leaks can be detected this way.
  • Horn – If your horn isn’t loud enough to attract the attention of pedestrians or other drivers, or if it doesn’t work at all, you’ll need to get it repaired.
  • Seatbelts – Check every seatbelt in the car to make sure that they fasten securely and lock in place. In the driver’s seat, make sure that the seat can be easily adjusted, and check the full length of the seatbelt for damage.
  • Fuel and engine oil – Make sure that these are topped up, as if there isn’t enough to test the car’s emission levels, you will be turned away.

If your car fails the MOT, you will be issued a certificate known as a VT30, which outlines the reasons for the failure. You’ll then need to get the problems fixed, before booking it back in for another MOT – although it can be a partial test just to check the flaws that were flagged the first time around.

If you’re finding that your car comes back with a long list of faults, it might be cheaper in the long run to get a new car – our team are happy to help you find a great deal.

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