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MOT Test - Things you can check yourself

An MOT test is quite detailed and will take up to an hour to carry out by a trained professional. However, there are some simple checks you can do at home some time before your test is due to increase the chances of your vehicle passing. Getting things fixed before your test might also save you money.


Make sure the handbrake holds the car when you’re parked on a hill. It shouldn’t be too high when it’s been applied. Although problems with the handbrake will be hard to fix yourself you can at least be prepared, or get it looked at ahead of the test.

The brakes on your vehicle will also be checked to make sure they’re safe and there are no obvious problems with braking systems such as ESC or ABS. You won’t be able to easily perform these tests at home.


Make sure all the lights are working. Not just the headlights and brake lights - everything. Fog lights, indicators and reversing lights too. It might be quicker if you get someone to help you out with this, with one of you checking the lights while the other switches them on and off.

If any of the lights aren’t working, buy a new bulb. Most bulbs are cheap, although some car manufacturers make it difficult to install the replacement bulbs. Most retailers offer a fitting service for a few pounds that could be well worth it if you don’t want the hassle of changing the bulb yourself.


Your vehicle’s tyres should be inflated to the correct pressure. This ensures even wear, optimum handling and performance, as well as improved fuel economy. Check your car’s handbook to find the correct pressures for your tyres.

The depth of the tread on your tyres should be above the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm across at least the centre three quarters of the part of the tyre that makes contact with the road. You can check your tyres tread depth using a tread depth gauge, which are available at most motoring shops. You can also use a 20p coin - put the edge of the coin in between the grooves of the tyre and look at it from the side, level with the edge of the tyre. If you can see the outer band of the coin, you should get your tyres checked as they may need replacing.


The MOT test will check your vehicle’s suspension in detail, and it’s hard to do this at home without the right equipment and experience. However, there are a few simple checks you can do to find out if your suspension is working properly.

Push down on each corner of the car, putting all your weight on it. When you release the car should move back to the position it was in originally fairly quickly. If it doesn’t there may be a problem with your suspension. Getting it looked into before your test gives you more time to find a good garage and reasonable price for any work that’s required.


The centre of the driver’s view should be clear of damage, any chips in this area should not exceed 10mm in diameter, but 40mm maximum elsewhere. If you have any chips on your windscreen, they could turn into cracks at a later date if you don’t get them fixed. Windscreen damage repairs can normally be carried out by specialists under fully comprehensive insurance policies at no charge and without affecting any no claims discount.


Check your car’s brake fluid, windscreen washer fluid and oil levels. Ensure they’re all at the recommended levels. Check the manual to find out where they are under the bonnet and how to check them. Buying the fluids and refilling them yourself is sometimes cheaper than a garage would charge when a car has failed its MOT test.

Ensure that front windscreen wipers are working and not too damaged. The wipers should clear the windscreen effectively, washers should be working too.


Check your vehicle’s exhaust system for leaks or strange noises. You will be able to see some leaks while the engine is running. Loud noises from the exhaust might also indicate a problem.

Seat belts

Make sure all seat belts are installed and work correctly.

Number plates

Make sure you can read your cars front and back number plates from 20 meters away. They should be clean and undamaged.

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