Understanding Your MOT Test

An MOT test is a comprehensive annual test that checks that a car is roadworthy and legal to drive on the road. The DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency) has developed the MOT guidelines to ensure that you, your passengers, other road users, and the environment aren’t harmed by your car.

The MOT guidelines are regularly updated to keep up with improved emissions and safety technology, so it’s always good to stay up-to-date rather than making an assumption that your car will pass.

Understanding Your MOT Test - What Are the MOT Guidelines?

What Are The MOT Guidelines?

MOT tests for cars involve nine separate categories:

  • Identifying the vehicle – Your number plates should be visible and in a prescribed font. Additionally, your car should display a visible Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). If either is missing or incorrect, it counts as a Major fault and an instant MOT failure.
  • Brakes – all braking aspects of your car will be tested and undergo a road test. If your brakes don’t meet the standards, this will constitute a Major fault.
  • Steering –  Your car will be inspected from underneath to ensure that all sections of its steering gear and linkages are in good condition. The mechanic will also check that the steering wheel and column don’t wear or play. Play means when you rotate the steering wheel, but the wheels don’t move.
  • Visibility – The MOT tester will check all your windows and windscreens to ensure they are in good condition. Chips in your windscreen could cause your car to fail its MOT if they are in the field of vision. They will also check your windscreen wipers and washers.
  • Electrical equipment, including lights – All lights will be checked, as will the battery. During the MOT, the tester will also check the red reflectors on the back of your car.
  • Axel, wheels, and suspension – Your car’s axle and suspension will be checked during the test. This includes looking at springs and shock absorbers. The MOT test also looks at wheels and tyres (including your spare wheel). If your car has a Tyre Pressure Monitoring System, they will also check that it is working.
  • Body, structure and attachments – This section of the MOT checks the car’s general condition inside and out. It includes a test on its exhaust system, fuel system, bumpers, whether there is corrosion to essential parts of the bodywork or engine, doors and catches, and the driver’s seat.
  • Other equipment – Such as seat belts, airbags, steering locks, the car’s horn, and the speedometer. If any of these aren’t working correctly or are damaged, it will usually count as a Major fault.
  • Nuisance – Finally, the MOT checks for nuisance. This includes whether your car is leaking fluids, its silencer is working, and its emissions. It’s worth remembering that if you have modified your vehicle, for instance, fitting a different exhaust system, this can impact your MOT test results.

What Can Fail An MOT?

Your car will fail its MOT if it doesn’t meet the MOT test requirements. However, the most common failures can be overcome by regularly checking your vehicle.

One of the most common MOT fails is due to blown bulbs. Either get a friend to walk around your car to check the lights are working or park it in front of a white or pale wall to check the reflections.

Another significant cause of failures is tyre tread depth. The MOT advisory for tyre tread depth is that the legal minimum tread is 1.6mm. An easy way to check your tyre tread depth is to use a 20p coin.

If you place the coin in your tread and can still see the outer band, your tyres are below the legal limit.

The third most easily fixable MOT failure is related to the driver’s view of the road. Anything that inhibits your view counts as a failure. This can be anything from a crack in your windscreen to a dashboard-mounted mobile phone cradle.

So, before heading to the MOT test centre, remove any air fresheners from your rearview mirror.

If My Car Fails, Is There A Grace Period For An MOT?

In short, the answer is no. It’s an urban myth that drivers have a two-week grace period where they can drive their car while they wait for it to get fixed after an MOT failure. In fact, if you are caught driving a vehicle without an MOT, you’ll receive a £1000 fine! Having no MOT will also invalidate your car insurance, so it isn’t worth the risk.

If your car is due an MOT, the best thing to do is get yourself booked into a friendly and reputable garage.

The team at Just Right Autos in Witney, Oxfordshire, are always happy to talk you through the MOT process and answer any questions you may have. Just get in touch.


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