11 top tips to get your car ready for its MoT

Do you look after your car?
Do you look after your car?

De-cluttering your boot, silencing squeaky windscreen wipers and doing the handbrake ‘click test’ - THESE are the top tips to make sure your car breezes through its MoT.

The ‘Ministry of Transport’ check assesses your vehicle’s safety and roadworthiness - and can be an annual headache for many motorists.

According to figures from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, more than one car in three fails its £55 test, including many three-year-old cars going for their first check-up.

But motoring expert Mick Crean, founder of car parts website MicksGarage.com, says many vehicle owners are failing for ‘fairly daft’ reasons - which could be easily rectified for just a few quid.

He explains: “Your car can fail its MoT for all sorts of reasons - many of them utterly avoidable and which can leave an owner feeling rather silly.

“Even having a dirty numberplate, a dodgy mobile phone holder or a too much junk in the trunk can have an MoT inspector seething.”

Here’s Mick and the MicksGarage.com team’s advice on the dos and don’ts of keeping your motor on the road for another 12 months.

Tidy the boot:

“If your car is your pride and joy, make it look that way. A tester will need to check your spare tyre compartment, if you’ve got one, or check your battery compartment if it’s in the trunk - as with cars like the Mini Cooper. But if your boot is so full of clutter the tester can’t get to it, you’ll have a ‘fail’ on your hands. Make sure it’s completely empty and clear of all valuables and personal belongings.”

Clean it:

“A tester will need to have a good luck at the underside of your car to check the state of things like your bushings and ball joints. But if they can’t see it because it’s caked in months-old dirt and grime, they’ll kick your car back the kerb. This goes for your numberplate, too - if it’s hard to read because it’s either dirty or damaged, wash it get it replaced.”

Licence plate:

“According to recent research by whatcar.com, hundreds of people fail their MoT every year because they haven’t got a ‘standard’ licence plate. Don’t try and chance your arm when you know you’re bending the rules - it needs to have the correct font and spacing. Check to see if yours falls in line and if it doesn’t, a replacement only costs around £15. Meanwhile there are others who fail their MoT each year because they don’t have a licence plate at all….!”

Operating temperature:

“This is something that can easily be overlooked on the day. Ensure your vehicle is at a normal operating temperature prior to arriving at the test centre. If it’s not, and it’s not warmed up properly, this can skew emission readings and more, and not in your favour. Make sure to have a good jaunt before arriving.”

Do the handbrake test:

“Your handbrake should be able to hold the car on a hill. If it can’t, you’ll fail your MoT. When you’re pulling it upwards, it should also not click any more than about seven or eight times. If it clicks more than this, it’s too loose and might not be safe.”

Squeaky wipers:

“They only cost a few quid, and they’re a doddle to fit yourself, so there’s really no excuse to have windscreen wipers that aren’t working properly. A big part of the MoT test is making sure the driver’s view isn’t ‘obscured’. That covers things like mobile phone holders being in the wrong place, and it also takes into account smearing and blurring caused by wiped-out wipers. The windscreen should be free from large chips or cracks, too.”

Buckle up:

“You may have folded the seats down during a recent trip to IKEA , and the seat belts may have slipped down into the cracks proving impossible to retrieve by the tester. Double check that all belts and buckles are fully visible unless you want to test the patience of the inspector.”

Oil and coolant:

“It sounds like a no-brainer, but make sure your car has adequate oil and coolant. Not only is it needed for the MoT but this should be part of regular scheduled maintenance on your vehicle. Engine oil, coolant, power steering brake fluid, windscreen wash and more should check periodically.”

Check your bulbs:

“Almost 20% of failures are due to lights. Although you yourself may not be able to check that your headlights are adjusted correctly, making sure they work in the first place is essential. A quick scan of the headlight and low beam, indicators, parking lights, number plate lights and brake lights. The rear fog lamp, where fitted, is also tested and also ensure and the reverse provides a white light which is clearly visible.”

Warning Lights

“If the car is sending you warning lights, it is going to send warning signals through the testers head. Get any warning lights and faults investigated and fixed, or if you have taken care of them yourself, make sure to clear the fault code.”

Tyre Tread Depth

“The rubber between you and the ground will be thoroughly inspected, so make sure all tyres are inflated to the correct pressure and in date. You can find the correct pressure in your owner’s manual. There also needs to be at least 1.6mm of tread, and use a torch to ensure there are no cuts, lumps of bulges on the tyre tread and sidewall.”