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MOT Checklist

March 11, 2016

For an unlucky many, it’s coming up to that time of year again when you forget your MOT is due and end up having to take your car to the garage at 6am on a Thursday. But it’s not all bad – with our handy MOT checklist, you can make sure your car passes its test first time, avoiding costly re-tests or inflated garage repair prices.

Every year, around 1.5 million cars fail their MOT due to minor faults, such as a broken light bulbs or worn-out windscreen wipers – and these are all issues which can be addressed prior to your test, and fixed for a fraction of garage repair rates.

Find a reliable MOT test centre


Not all MOT centres are equal, and it’s worth taking the time to find a reputable garage to carry out your MOT test. Unfortunately, there are still a few wheeler dealers around – and industry regulations really do need to change in order for drivers to regain confidence in garages. Just because a garage is licensed to MOT your vehicle doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed a quality service – nor does taking your car to a dealership franchise.

Word-of-mouth and customer reviews are still the best way to find a reliable and trustworthy MOT centre, so look around before arranging your test. MOT costs can be as much as £54.85 – but you may be able to find a cheaper rate than this, as garages often lower prices to gain future customers.

If you want to check the MOT status for your vehicle and find out whether you’re due a visit to your nearest centre, you can perform a simple MOT check online at which should tell you everything you need to know.

MOT checklist


Below, you’ll find our comprehensive MOT checklist – including a ton of quick and easy checks you can try today without any mechanical know-how. It’s always worth being thorough when it comes to MOT requirements, rather than running the risk of being caught out with a hefty repair bill. For most minor replacements, such as bulbs, wiper blades and mechanical fluids, you can visit Halfords.



  • Check all of your vehicle’s lights are working correctly – including headlights, tail lights, side lights, hazard warning lights and indicators. Broken bulbs are a common problem and are easy to change yourself

  • Check your brake lights are working – to do this properly, get a friend to stand behind the car while you apply the brakes, ensuring they work on both sides



  • You must be able to read your number plate from a distance of 20m. Even if you don’t wash the rest of your car, make sure your number plate is clean and legible! If you have a custom licence plate, the lettering and spacing must comply with DVLA requirements

  • Ensure that your windscreen is in good condition, without any cracks (minor chips smaller than 1cm are allowed but should be repaired, as they can quickly turn into cracks)

  • Your windscreen wipers and washer jets should all work correctly. If your washer jets are blocked, you can clear the obstruction by gently inserting a pin into the nozzle. Don’t forget to top up your washer fluid before the test! Your windscreen wiper blades should be in good condition – if not, these are cheap to buy and easy to replace yourself

  • Check that your doors open and close properly – they should remain firmly closed once shut. It’s a standard MOT requirement that your front doors can be opened from both the inside and outside – so now’s the time to get any broken door handles fixed



  • Ensure that your vehicle’s bodywork is in good condition, paying special attention to any corrosion that could potentially weaken its structure

  • If your car has any bumps or scrapes, make sure this doesn’t affect the car’s braking or steering – the wheel arches should be unobstructed and in good condition

  • Sharp edges could pose a danger to pedestrians or increase the likelihood of injury in an accident – therefore, your car’s bodywork should be smooth and free from any unusual protrusions

Wheels and tyres


  • By law, your tyres must have a minimum tread depth of 1.3mm, although it’s recommended that you replace them when the tread reaches just 3mm. If you need to source a replacement, refer to your car’s manual or dealership to identify the correct type

  • Check that your wheels are in good condition and free from corrosion or damage

  • Besides tread depth, your tyres should generally be in good condition – without any tears or cuts in the rubber. Don’t forget to check your spare tyre, if your car has one



  • Ensure that all seat belts are in good working order – as these should fasten and unfasten easily. Check the seat belt fabric for any wear and tear. Tug sharply on the seat belt and ensure it locks properly – it should also retract smoothly once the locking mechanism is released

  • Check the seat railings (attaching the seats to the floor) for any corrosion or damage. The driver’s seat should adjust both backwards and forwards

  • Honk the horn – something that is often missed due to its lack of use. It should be loud and clear

  • Check your interior and exterior mirrors – without stating the obvious, they should give you a clear view behind the car. Make sure they are clean, adjustable and free from any cracks

Under the bonnet


  • Ensure the car has enough fuel in it to complete the MOT test – if not, you may be turned away by the garage

  • Check that fluid levels are between the minimum and maximum lines – including brake fluid, coolant and engine oil levels. If not, purchase the correct fluid and top them up. If the levels are drastically low, it could be a sign of a leak or engine problem – don’t ignore this. Have it checked out by a garage straight away

  • Give the engine bay a quick once-over, looking for any obvious problems, such as loose or split hoses and frayed wires

If our MOT checklist gets you no further to the results you’re looking for and you fancy getting your hands on an upgrade, The Car Loan Warehouse can help. Specialists in new, used and bad credit car finance, we work with dealers and lenders to find you the best car finance deal – regardless of your credit score.

Whether you’re buying through a dealership or from a private seller, our 5-star checks give customers the confidence that they’re dealing with a credible and trustworthy seller.

Ready to explore your options? Try our quick and easy car loan calculator to see how much you could save – or apply online to get approved in 60 minutes or less.

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About The Author

Jon Le Roux is co-founder and company director of The Car Loan Warehouse. Being a mad engineering and motorsport enthusiast, I spend more hours than is healthy, watching, reading or talking about cars, boats, motorbikes…..basically anything with an engine.