As soon as your car reaches three years old it will need an annual MOT test.

It’s essentially a health and safety check for your car, ensuring it’s in roadworthy condition and fit to be driven on public roads for the next 12 months, when the next test will be due again.

It checks a whole manner of things, and any issues are identified as ‘minor’ or ‘major’ Any of the latter will mean the car fails its MOT test, and can’t be driven on the road until repaired and another successful test has been carried out.

But what are the key things to check before your car’s MOT to avoid it failing? Let’s take a look.


The most common reason why a car will fail its MOT test is because a light or bulb is out and faulty. If a bulb is out, it will result immediately in a failure too, so you should pay particular attention to your car’s lights beforehand.


Get a family member or friend to help with this, and try the side, full and high beam lights, along with the rear lights and fog lights. Don’t forget to make sure the indicators and brake lights are fully functioning too. If any bulbs are out, your local motor factor will be able to help supply replacements, and will even be able to fit them if you’re unsure.


Tyres are something you should pay close attention to at the best of times, not just before an MOT. They’re the only part of your vehicle in contact with the road, and MOT testers are particularly stringent when it comes to them.


The tyres will need to have at least 1.6mm in tread (putting the outer edge of a 20p coin in the groove is the best way to check this), though we recommend swapping tyres before this. Also check they’re the correct pressures, which you’ll be able to find in the vehicle handbook, and for any other signs of damage.

Wipers and windscreen

Being able to see out of your windscreen is paramount, and this is another area where testers look closely at, with failed tests common here.


First have a look at the windscreen for any chips and cracks. Any damage that is more than 40mm will result in an immediate fail, however even a small chip that is in the driver’s line of vision as it could result in a test being failed. Next, make sure the wipers are in good condition and show no signs of damage.

Top up fluid levels

Keeping on top of fluid levels throughout the year is important, but particularly at MOT time. Check the oil level by using the dipstick and topping up accordingly, and fill up the washer fluid while you’re at it.


Your car will also need to have sufficient fuel in it to be able to do the required emissions tests, so if you’re getting low, be sure to top up it on the way to the garage.

Give the vehicle a clean beforehand

MOT testers may refuse to carry out an inspection of your car if it’s too dirty, so it’s a good idea giving it a spruce up beforehand. You don’t have to go overboard, and even a quick jet wash will help if your car is covered in muck.


Give the interior a quick tidy too, including emptying out the boot so an MOT can be carried out. It’s worth taking out any child seats that are in the car too, as a tester may put it as an advisory if a child seat gets in the way of making sure the seatbelts work.

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