we’re not all in a position to own a car that is newer than three years old,
nor to have looked after one well enough for it to reach the grand old age of
forty. For the rest of us, annual MOT tests are required for every vehicle.
it’s not a strenuous test on the driver’s part, the unknown as to whether your
vehicle will pass road safety standards or if you could be hit with a large sum
of money should it fail is simply awful.
there are a list of simple checks that you can inspect yourself prior to a MOT test,
which will greatly reduce the chance expense and inconvenience of a retest. Most
of these parts are easy to find once you’ve done it once and are even easier to
fix should you need to.
1. Oil level
car oil lubricates the engine parts to ensure it runs smoothly when driving. Without
this, your engine without oil works similarly to human bones without cartilage.
A dry engine will very quickly grind and groan until it becomes undrivable. If
your engine seizes it can be as dramatic as buying a new car as opposed to
getting it fixed.
a low oil level is a fault that, once identified, will lead to your vehicle failing
an MOT. Typically, you should check your oil level every time you reach
3000-5000 miles or every six months, you can find your oil dipstick under the
bonnet. Use your driver’s manual to find exactly where to locate it, pull out the
dipstick, and carry out the following steps.
look for the minimum and maximum line, this should be situated on the side of
your dipstick. Next, wipe it clean and pop it back in before pulling it out
again. If the oil line sits between these, then your oil level is adequate. If
it sits below the minimum line, you’ll need to fill up your oil before taking
it in for its MOT.
should always be carried out when the engine is cold, and the vehicle is parked
on a level surface. Testing the levels on a warm engine can be dangerous and
will give a very different reading as oil expands under the heat.
do this, refer to your driver’s manual for the full instructions in regard to
continuous and long-term use, you can expect your brakes to become spongy or
slack. If this is not easily noticeable, there are a few tests that you can try
in order to find out.
starting the engine, press down on the brake pedal. If these feel spongy or the
pedal pushes flat down to the floor, then there is an issue.
driving, find a safe space and press down on the brakes firmly, your vehicle
should slow down smoothly without pulling to the side and without any vibration.
your brake pads. To be on the safe side, you should be able to see at least a ¼
inch of the brake pad. If you can’t, your brake pads may need to be replaced.
spongy brakes aren’t always a serious issue, it could be down to a lack of
brake fluid in the vehicle. Again, under the bonnet, you’ll be able to find the
brake fluid reservoir. If your brake fluid is a couple of inches lower than the
reservoir cap, this will need refilling before your MOT. If you notice your
brake fluid to be dark in colour, this will need to be replaced by a mechanic.
3. Tyre tread
unknown to some, it is an illegal offence to drive a vehicle with tyres that do
not meet the required tread depth. The law allows a minimum tread depth of
1.6mm and no lower.
mechanics and drivers use the 20p trick to determine if their vehicle’s tyre
tread depth exceeds the legal minimum. Place a 20p into the main grooves of
your tyre, if you cannot see the outer band on the 20p coin, then your tyre is
above the legal minimum. If you can see the outer band, your tread depth
breaches the legal requirement and your tyres will need to be replaced.
sure to check the depths across the tyre as under or overinflated tyres will wear
unevenly, and also check all four tyres. They will all wear unevenly depending
on whether your car is front, rear or four-wheel drive, and if you are the sort
to tackle a roundabout at speed the left side will also be likely to incur more
most car dashboards will notify the driver of any lights that aren’t working.
Although, in the case that a car that doesn’t, you should check your lights
once a week to guarantee safety when driving in the dark or during low
visibility weather conditions.
easiest way to carry out these checks is with a friend, family member or
colleague who is happy to help. Ask someone to walk around the car whilst you
turn on each indicator and individual headlight setting, as well as the brake
lights. This way, you can easily identify any that need to be replaced.
you are checking these on your own, use other vehicles and windows to check
your headlights and brake lights. To check your indicators, pull over to a safe
space, pop your hazards on and walk around the car to check they’re all working.
a light bulb can cost as little as £1.00, depending on the car model you have.
Replacing car light bulbs tends to be a quick and simple change for most car
owners, refer to your driver’s manual for further instructions. If your car was
to fail in a MOT for this, it’s a real kick yourself moment.
5. Tyre pressure
for the driver’s manual, due to each car’s required tyre pressure being
different, your manual will state what your car tyre pressures need to be.
your tyres being too low and too high can cause serious implications for your
your tyre pressure is too low, you can run the risk of creating excessive
friction between the tyre and road, wearing them prematurely and separating the
tread through overheating.
your tyre pressure is too high, your tyres can become bouncy on the road. In
turn, this will cause your brakes to be less effective and contribute to an
over or under inflation will also cause uneven wear on your tyres, reducing the
this in mind, make a conscious effort to know the correct tyre pressure for
your wheels and keep a close eye on these to guarantee optimum performance. If
you notice your vehicle’s tyres continue to go flat in a short amount of time,
it may be that you have a slow puncture, leaky valve or a broken seal around
the bead. All of these issues can be quickly rectified by your local tyre
dealer, and if the tyre is okay will only cost you a small amount.
you noticed every bump and dip in the road during your drive? Or, have you
noticed that the front of your vehicle frequently nose-dive’s upon stopping?
Both of these could be signs that your suspension needs to be worked on.
not, this is a really easy one to check. Commonly known as the ‘bounce test’,
lean all your weight onto the bonnet of your car and bounce several times,
repeat this on the back of the vehicle also. If the car continues to bounce 2
or 3 times after you’ve removed your weight, then it is highly likely that a
mechanic will need to work on your suspension.
7. Wheel alignment
you’re confident when it comes to working your way round a car, we would
suggest leaving the realignment of wheels to your mechanic. However, there are
ways in which you can test your wheel alignment to know beforehand whether this
will come up in your MOT.
most common sign that your wheels may need to be realigned is if your steering
wheel steers to the side when driving straight.
your vehicle pulls to the side, both whilst driving and slowing down, this
suggests that your wheel alignment may need to be looked at.
more subtle indication is when a small vibration appears at certain speeds. You
may notice an imbalance at 65mph which disappears at 70mph. This is down to the
rotation speeds at each speed, not because your car has just miraculously fixed
very verbal warning from your vehicle is if they screech when driving. This
would need more urgent attention!
8. Fluid leaks
fluids are required in your vehicle in order to ensure it runs smoothly.
Therefore, fluid leaks can be a result of lots of different reasons and its
worthwhile being able to recognise what each fluid colour suggests. Identifying
the issue to avoid any shock revelations in a MOT.
orange or pink is your coolant fluid and could be a correspondent to a crack in
the coolant system. Depending on the size of the crack, this could be taped
over to prevent leaking or may need to be replaced altogether.
is the sign of an oil leak. Often, this adds up to a failed gasket and the only
option for this is to be replaced by a mechanic.
red 0r dark red liquid is a transmission fluid leak. The level of repairs
required rests upon the scale of the issue causing the leak and will require a
mechanic to determine.
honey looking fluid is a gearbox oil leak. Due to the technical properties of
the gearbox, this will always need a mechanic’s work to fix the issue.
oil under your wheels will be brake fluid and is a concerning issue that
impacts the occupant’s safety. Again, this requires a mechanic’s touch to
ensure it meets the required safety standards.
liquid is washer fluid. This is nothing too serious in regard to whether your
car will drive, but it is a legal condition for drivers to have their washer
fluid always topped up when on the road. Consequently, if your washer fluid is
leaking, you could be breaching this requirement.
you notice water leaking from your car, this is often harmless. Normally a
result of your air conditioning system or humidity.
it comes to your windows, there are several areas where your vehicle could fail
its MOT which could have been prevented.
being washer fluid levels, these should always sit between the designated
minimum and maximum line. Another is the wear and tear of your wiper blades, costing
less than £20 to be replaced, this is an easy fix that shouldn’t be left till
the MOT. Lastly, cracks in the windscreen should be repaired as soon as they
occur to avoid prompting any further and more costly issues. If this is arrange
before an MOT it is often coverage by your insurance policy and can be replaced
for the cost of a small excess payment.
10. Wear and tear of seatbelt
are compulsory to ensure vehicles meet the required road safety standards to
prevent as many unnecessary accidents as possible. One of the most important
checks carried out is on the seatbelts, our literal lifesavers should we ever find
ourselves involved in a car crash.
you notice your seatbelts start to wear and tear or lock before your MOT, take
your car in for a service and get these replaced. It could be a real life or
in all, there’s a lot that can be checked for and resolved prior to a MOT to
reduce the lump sum cost at the end. Or, it could simply provide you with an
insight into what the cost will be upon finding these faults in the MOT. On top
of this, as driver’s we have a responsibility to make sure our vehicles are
safe enough to be on the road and protect the occupants inside. We cannot urge
you enough when we say, don’t wait until your MOT if you notice anything
suspicious about your vehicle. Try diagnosing the issue or take your car to
your local garage if you’re unsure.
Should you need a car garage in Norwich to carry out a MOT test or service on your car, call us on 01603 700128 to book your vehicle in today!