Most Common Reasons your Car could fail its MOT & Top Pre-MOT Checks
So you’ve booked your car in for a MOT. In the lead up to D-Day, the heat is on and your brain starts going into overtime wondering what it could possibly fail on. Every journey you take you start to hear new noises. Was that rattle there before? The paranoia sets in and before you know it you’re researching payday loans to cover the imaginary bill. Don’t panic. The chances are your car will pass and if it doesn’t, it’s unlikely it will fail on several counts. In fact, over 50% of MOT’s fail on minor issues with bulbs, windscreens and tyres. In this article, we’ll go through the most common reasons your car could fail its MOT. We’ll also help you be more prepared for your MOT with a handy guide to Pre-MOT checks.
What is a MOT Test for?
A MOT is a means of testing a vehicle and its features for safety. A MOT doesn’t provide a guarantee that a car will be safe to drive for the next 12 months. But what it does do is provide a review of four significant safety systems: brakes, steering, suspension and tyres. If, during the MOT these areas do not meet the standards set then the car will fail the MOT.
If a car fails it’s MOT it is not allowed to be driven on the road until the problem areas are rectified.
New Legislation around MOT testing
The Government announced in January this year that they have plans to increase the MOT age of a car from 3 years to 4 years. This could be music to your ears if you’ve recently purchased a new car. The Government cited the reason behind the change is that the reliability of cars has developed ten-fold since the introduction of the MOT in 1960.
The UK government have taken note of EU minimum requirements. The EU state that MOT test frequency is every two years, with the first MOT taking place when the car reaches 4 years old. Looking at the safety ratings of EU Countries operating the 4-year rule Andrew Jones MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport gave this statement:
“Many other European countries, including France, Ireland, Italy and Spain, as well as Denmark and Norway, which are among a group of countries alongside the UK with very good road safety records, have the first test at four years.”
What is checked during an MOT?
When you take your car in for a MOT there’s a substantial list of parts which are checked to ensure they are in proper working order. They range from the seemingly insignificant to the downright essential but each has a bearing on how safe your vehicle is on the road.
- Registration Plate
- Wipers and wiper blades
- Vehicle structure
The Most Common Reasons a Car Fails Its MOT
These are some of the most common reasons a car can fail it’s MOT. So check them ahead of time and make some small repairs to really help improve the chances of your vehicle passing the MOT.
Step One. Check the brake lights.
Park your car with the rear of the vehicle facing a plain white wall,garage door or a window. Turn on the ignition and press the brake pedal. If you look in your rear view mirror you should be able to clearly see the reflection of the brake lights. The brake lights are a crucial safety feature warning vehicles behind you that you are stopping.
Step Two. Inspect the indicators and headlights
Turn your headlights on to dipped and get out to check they are working properly, repeat this step with the full beam, high beam and each indicator. Be sure to check the front and rear indicator lights. If any are not operating it’s probably just the bulb that needs replacing. This is easily done yourself on most makes and models of car. Or, your local Halfords store can often help with small repairs and replacements.
Step Three. Fuel up
The MOT tester will need enough fuel in the tank to carry out emissions checks so never take your car for a MOT on an empty tank. When you fill up the car it’s also worth checking that the fuel cap fits securely. It should be airtight.
Step Four. Beep Beep
The horn is checked during an MOT and is often forgotten by motorists unless you have a habit of road rage? Give it a quick test. You’ll know the sound of a good healthy horn vs one that isn’t fully operational. The middle of the day is the most acceptable time to test your horn. As its loud, I would recommend avoiding before 9am and after 6pm.
Step Five. Check your number plate
The numberplate is often forgotten because it’s not actively used by drivers every day. However, it is a crucial part of the car and its safety on the road. Check that the numberplate is securely fastened to the car and is clean and visible. Don’t forget the rear number plate too!
Step Six. Suspension checks
With some of the pot holes around on the roads near me, my suspension takes a daily beating. To check your suspension you must press down heavily on the front wing of the car each side. If it returns to the right position then your vehicle should pass this section of the MOT. If you notice that the car bounces up and down then you should be expecting this to come up on the MOT. The typical problem is with the shock absorbers in this case.
Step Seven. Seat manoeuvrability and seatbelts
The driver seat should move back and forth on the runners smoothly and each seat belt should return to their original position once tugged. It is also worth checking the belt itself for any damage like fraying.
Step Eight. Tyre tread
Checking your tyres is an obvious part of the MOT and if you can be prepared for any problems with your tyres you can get these seen to ahead of time to avoid any nasty surprises. Tyre tread is important and driving when your tyre tread is too low is actually illegal. You can measure your tyre tread by placing a 20p coin in the grooves on the outer edge of each of your tyres. If the 20p sticks out further than the tread of the wheel then your tread is too low and the tyre needs replacing.
Whilst doing this keep an eye for any bulges or other damage to the sidewalls of the tyre such as nails which may have penetrated the rubber or scratched into the outer edges which in time could turn into a tear.
Step Nine. The Windscreen
A certain size of windscreen chip is acceptable but anything over 40mm in diameter would be a fail. On the areas the windscreen wipers move across the size of chip allowed is reduced to just 10mm so be mindful of this.
Step Ten. Windscreen Wipers
These need to be fully operational with no fraying and should clear the screen fully when switched on. Replacement windscreen wipers are a minimal cost and can be easily fitted within seconds. But, they could be the difference between an MOT pass and fail.
By checking these 10 elements of your car at home as a precaution you are safeguarding yourself against a MOT fail. They are simple checks which will only take a few moments but can give you some peace of mind when it comes to your car’s MOT. These are the most common reasons a car can fail it’s MOT, so knowing ahead of time that these are ok and ticking these boxes are a good indication that your car is likely to pass.