RAC Cars News


Getting Through an MoT

By raccars Published

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MoT testing is an inevitable fact of UK car ownership. All cars have to be submitted for the MoT annually once they reach three years of age, although taxi drivers' cars are eligible from the very first year.

Introduced in 1960 by Ernest Marples, then Minister of Transport, the MoT test is so named for the Ministry of Transport, under whose responsibility it fell at the time. While this has been superseded by the Department for Transport, the test name remains and certificates are now issued by the DVSA (Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency).

Many car owners approach MoT time with fear. Today's strict procedures mean test failures can result in the need for expensive repairs - on the other hand, the test does ensure roadworthiness, meaning there aren't many genuinely dangerous old bangers on UK roads anymore.

If your car is due for its MoT test and you are worried about its ability to pass, consider taking the following steps.

Pre-MoT testing

There's no official pre-MoT test procedure, however performing a check on the relevant points beforehand can save you time and money later on, by allowing you to fix problems that could result in a failure. If you are confident at your ability to perform amateur mechanics, you can carry out your own pre-MoT, but local garages will also perform the service.

A month before your existing MoT is due to expire, check the following areas:


Don't just check the headlamps and brake lights - you can fail an MoT on tiny details, such as a blown light bulb on the number plate. Check all bulbs and replace any that aren't working.


Press down on each corner of your car - the vehicle should rise back up and settle smoothly. If you feel a lumpy response on any corner, your shock absorbers or springs could be on their way out. Get a mechanic to check.


Your handbrake should apply effectively with a maximum of six clicks. You can check for wear and tear of your brake discs and pads by performing a visual inspection on each wheel.


The legal minimum tread level is 1.6mm, but ideally, you'll need 4mm. Check for any tears, rips or steel belts grinning through.


A quick visual inspection should show up any holes in the system.


While you might get away with tiny stone chips in corners, larger chips and cracks, particularly if they are in the driver's forward view, will provoke a test failure. These should be repaired or the windscreen replaced before testing.

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