The Importance of an MOT

The MOT - or Ministry of Transport test - is a crucial part of ensuring that the cars on the UK’s roads retain a basic level of roadworthiness. First introduced back in 1960, it’s now a core part of running and maintaining a car here in the UK.

Now that the government’s MOT extension, which was implemented to keep key workers on the move during the coronavirus crisis, has ended, more people than ever are flocking to garages to get their cars MOT’d. But what exactly is it and why do we need to get one? Let’s find out.

What is an MOT?

An MOT is a maintenance check-up carried out once a year on cars over three years old. A certified MOT tester will carry out the procedure and focus on key areas of the car including the brakes, lights and even the windscreen wipers. In addition, they’ll perform an emissions test to ensure that the car meets standards. 

What do they check during my MOT?

The MOT test checks for the minimum level of functioning to allow your car to be safe on the road. Having said that, the MOT test probably consists of more checks than you would think. These are split into four main groups:

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What are the Common Failures and How Can I Avoid Them?

We tend to dread the MOT for fear of our car failing. Cars that do fail often do so for something trivial that could have been avoided if the owner had checked their vehicle in advance.

Check your plates

You can also be failed for having a dirty number plate. Simply wiping it over could make all the difference between a pass and a fail. It's also important that your plates conform to the strict regulations for plates.

Screenwash, lights and tyres

Topping up your screenwash before the test is a quick and easy way to avoid a fail, as is checking your lights.

You'll need to get someone to help you with the brake lights, or back up close to a glass window so that you can see the reflection of both brake lights in your rearview mirror. It's very easy to have a brake light out and not notice for ages until someone mentions it to you!

Checking your tyre tread depth is also a necessity - if the tread is less than 1.6mm deep your car will fail the MOT. Use a gauge or take a look at the tread indicators on any tyre, when they’re at the same level as your tyre tread, it’s time for a tyre change.


If you never have passengers in the rear seats, you won't know if the seatbelts are working. Even if you don't use them, your car will fail the MOT unless all seatbelts are fully functioning, so try them out once in awhile to make sure they are in good condition.


Your car can also fail the MOT if the windscreen is obscured, so bear this in mind before you apply any stickers or decals!

Learn your warning lights

Cars are so full of technology, with screens full of lights and symbols, it can be easy to ignore a little light on the dash when you don't know what it means and the car seems to be fine otherwise.

However, a warning light could mean an MOT fail. Even if it is a fault with the warning light system itself and not actually a fault with the car, this is still a point of failure.

Read your manual and find out what that light actually means and take any required action! While you're at it, check that your car’s horn works. This literally takes a second!

Make sure you have plenty of fuel and oil

The test centre will be checking emissions, so for this they'll be running the engine quite a bit. If they think you don't have sufficient oil or fuel they may refuse to even admit your car to the test centre which can be very frustrating.

Your car will also need its coolant levels to be adequate for the duration of the test so check your expansion tank before the test.

This should be semitransparent so it’s easy to ensure that the coolant level lies between the min and max indicators. Refer to your car’s manual if you are unsure at all.

MOT History Checker

Check the MOT status and history of any car in the UK using our free MOT Check

Your vehicle registration

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Are there any parts of a car that an MOT doesn’t check?

Though an MOT test does check over many aspects of a car, there are some parts that aren’t looked over. An MOT tester won’t look at the engine, gearbox or clutch systems, though they still need to be in good working order. For instance, if your car can’t be driven onto an inspection ramp under its own steam, then it’ll be failed straight away.

Things to check before your MOT



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