MOT Checks to Do at Home
Did you know the majority of MOT fails are due to faulty light bulbs? Save money on your MOT and car repair by ensuring that you’re not failing your test for silly, avoidable reasons.
The most common for MOT failure is problems with headlights – usually because of broken light bulbs that could easily have been replaced by the owner. Second on the list of failure reasons is tyres. Usually this means that tread depth is below the legal limit of 1.66mm, or there is damage to the tyre making it dangerous to drive on.
Other common causes for failure include brakes, seatbelts and windscreen wiper blades. There are many small checks any driver can carry out on their vehicle before their MOT, which can help highlight any areas that need attention and save the hassle of a failure and a retest.
You can easily check that your windscreen is free from cracks or damage (especially in the main area of the driver’s vision), and that your mirrors are intact, secure and adjustable. It’s also a good idea to check the condition of your tyres, wipers, seatbelts and lights.
Some easy checks you can do at home include:
Check the performance of your handbrake by driving slowly for a short distance and applying the handbrake to ensure it slows the car. It should also hold the car in place while parked on a hill. Count the clicks when you pull up the handbrake – it should give approximately 6 clicks to reach full engagement. If it is especially hard to pull, or gives too easily, it may need adjustment.
For the footbrake, check that the pedal doesn’t reach all the way to the floor when you press it. It should not creep further down as you hold your foot in place, either. Either of these things may indicate a leak in the brake system which can be dangerous and certainly need attention before an MOT, as well as for safe driving! If the pedal moves down too easily it can mean your brake pads or disks are worn, and movement from side to side may mean the pedal is not secured properly. Spongey brakes can mean there is air in your system. Check for fluid leaks at the base of the pedal or on the mat or carpet of the footwell.
Check that your steering wheel is connected solidly and turns easily. If you have to move your steering wheel excessively to change the direction of your car, there may be a loose nut, or your steering rack may be worn.
Power steering should cause your steering to feel lighter and easier when the engine is on. If you experience a loss of power steering, your power steering fluid levels may be low, or the pump could be worn or faulty.
Finally, a quick check of your electrics removes several common causes for MOT failure. This includes:
The horn (check it is audible and works each time it is pressed)
Windscreen wipers and washers (blades should be in adequate condition and working order, and washers should be filled and unclogged)
Side lights, headlights, indicators, hazards, fog lights and brake lights (check that all lights are working by walking all the way around the car or checking in a reflective surface)
Instrument panel (turn on the ignition and check that lights/indicators are lit or unlit as appropriate, for example ABS, airbags, oil, fuel, handbrake etc)
If you’re ever in any doubt about the condition of your vehicle, whether your MOT is due or not, always get it checked over by a professional mechanic in a reputable service station or garage.