Prepare for your MOT test with this easy 10 point check-list

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) has come out with a new check-list for drivers to help them get their cars through the annual MOT test.

New figures released by VOSA, the government body that oversees MOT tests, show that of the 8.1 million MOT failures in 2012, a significant proportion were caused by easy-to-spot issues. Simple-to-spot issues range from blown bulbs and worn tyres problems with windscreen wipers and low fluid levels.

Taking just a ‘Minute Or Two’, the 10-step check-list takes you through a series of quick-and-easy checks. The objective of the Minute Or Two initiative is to reduce the number of easily-avoidable MOT failures by educating motorists.

With these simple checks, you can ensure that you are in the best possible position to pass the test, saving yourself time as well as money on costs encountered with a failure.

The Minute Or Two check-list

  1. Headlights and indicators
    Check that all of your car’s lights function properly – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators.
  2. Brake lights
    Press the brake pedal and ask a friend to check that the rear brake lights come on – including any supplementary brake strip light. Alternatively, carefully reverse up to a reflective surface (window, wall or garage door) and look behind to see for yourself.
  3. Number plate
    Make sure that the number plate is clean and legible – even a quick wipe with a cloth can make a difference. The font and spacing of letters must also comply with legal requirements to be passed by the MOT station.
  4. Wheels and tyres
    Check that wheels and tyres are undamaged. The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and any tyres with less than this will be marked as an MOT ‘fail’ (though it’s recommended that tyres are changed when tread reaches 3mm). If you’re in doubt about how much tread is left on a tyre, your local manufacturer main dealer can check for you. The dealer can also advise on the type of tyre that is right for your car if a replacement is required.
  5. Seats and seatbelts
    The driver’s seat should adjust forwards and backwards and all seatbelts should be in good, working order. Test movement of the seat and inspect the seatbelt’s full length for damage. Tug sharply on all seatbelts to check that they react as they’re supposed to if you have to brake severely.
    They save your life in a crash, but only if they work properly – inspect the full length for damage and tug sharply on all the seatbelts to check that they react as they’re supposed if you have to brake severely.
  6. Windscreen
    Check the view out of the front of the car for damage – any damage larger than 40mm will cause a ‘fail’, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the ‘swept’ area of the windscreen in front of the driver.
  7. Windscreen wipers
    Make sure your wipers are able to keep your windscreen clean – any tears or holes in the wiper rubber can be an MOT fail.
  8. Screenwash
    Top up the washer bottle before taking the car in for a test – something as simple as an empty container can cause an MOT fail.
  9. Horn
    Give a short blast of the horn – if it doesn’t work, your dealer will need to repair or replace it.
  10. Fuel and engine oil
    Make sure your car is filled with enough fuel and engine oil – you can be turned away from the MOT without suitable levels of either, both of which are required by the dealership when running the car to test its emissions levels. If you are unsure about the type of oil that should be used, ask your manufacturer main dealer.

Note: When checking fluid levels and handling parts that could be become hot to the touch (eg bulbs) it’s always best to ensure that the vehicle has had an opportunity to cool down fully.

The full ‘Minute Or Two’ check-list can be viewed at, where you can also watch a video on carrying out the check and use a Garage Finder tool to locate your nearest dealer.


  1. Some good points there, BUT doesn’t go nowhere far enough to highlight that the annual VOSA check is minimum standard for highway use. The list there is a drivers daily vehicle checks and the vehicle presented to a VOSA test station should really have gone through a pre test inspection before being presented. Just doing a few above vehicle checks is not going to assure a pass.

    Sorry I don’t mean to be critical but the advice given about checking brake light on a reflective surface may not be sufficient if one accepts that a red glow at the rear is enough to think both ( or 3) brake lights are working.

    I hope you cover some more blog posts on vehicle safety plenty to cover and above all it is the most vital for UK road use..

  2. Think I better clarify – this isn’t my advice, this is advice from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) who sent me a press release which has been duplicated here. I guess they have meant it to be a simple checklist for drivers who don’t know much about cars.

    Of course I know there is a lot more involved in the MOT, so I may well look into to expanding on this subject in the future.

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