In the UK, your car has to have an annual MOT test if it is more than three years old. The exception to that rule is if your car gets used as a taxi, in which case it must have a MOT when it’s a year old.
Most people loathe submitting their cars to MOT tests. The actual process of driving your car to the test station isn’t an issue. But what is the problem for most people is waiting for news of whether their vehicle has passed with flying colours or failed miserably!
Some people even compare waiting for MOT test result news to waiting for the news of a newborn baby. I’m not sure I agree with that analogy but in either case waiting for news can be a stressful and trying time for those concerned!
Why do we have MOT tests?
For many decades now, British motorists had to submit their cars for annual MOT tests. These tests got introduced to check and verify the roadworthiness of vehicles on public roads. If a car fails the MOT test, the owner has to get their car repaired and submit it for a partial retest.
If they don’t fix their cars, they cannot drive them on public roads. To do so is illegal, and their cars can get seized by the police. In some cases, their cars might even get crushed! In the UK, if a car passes its MOT test, they don’t have to get their cars retested until 12 months later.
The maximum you can expect to pay for the MOT test is currently £54.85. Although most MOT test centres charge less for these tests, especially if combined with a service at the same time.
How do you know when your car’s MOT test is due?
One grievance that motorists in the UK have is that owners don’t get reminders from the DVSA like they do when their car tax is about to expire. It’s not unusual for motorists to drive their cars without realising their vehicle hasn’t got a valid MOT certificate!
The MOT test certificate you get issued from the test centre will have an expiry date written on it. But the sad truth is most people seldom make a note of this date. If your car gets a MOT from a place like GK Servicing, they usually send a text message or letter reminding you that your MOT will soon be due.
Many car owners rely on such reminders to help them plan ahead when their cars have an upcoming MOT test. If you don’t get a reminder, how do you know when your car is due for a MOT test?
rovernut / Flickr
Apart from checking your MOT certificate, you can verify the expiration of your car’s MOT by going on the gov.uk website. You will need two pieces of information. The first is your vehicle’s registration number. The second is your car’s document reference number from the V5C (i.e. your log book).
My MOT is due for renewal soon. What next?
Many car owners would book an appointment at their local MOT testing station. The trouble with that approach is that you won’t know whether your car is likely to pass its MOT test or not.
But the good news is that you can carry out some simple checks on your car before you book that appointment. They are as follows:
Oil leaks from car engines often end up as “advisory” items on MOT test certificates. Although advisories won’t cause an MOT test to fail, they flag up potential future problems that might cause cars to fail.
It’s no secret that many older cars have an oil leak or two from some part of the engine. The culprits are usually leaking oil sump plugs and oil seals around various parts of the engine. In some cases, oil can leak from the top of the engine. Examples include leaking “rocker covers” and PCV valves.
Sometimes it can be hard to diagnose oil leaks on engines. The best way to do so is to clean your engine of any existing oil stains. You may also wish to place a piece of cardboard underneath your engine if the oil leak is from underneath.
All of the exterior lights on your car must be in good condition and working order. If any of your lights don’t work, the cause is usually down to a blown bulb which you can easily replace yourself.
Inside your car, MOT testers check that the bulbs on your car’s dashboard are all working. If any of those are blown, your car will fail its MOT. Changing dashboard bulbs is more time-consuming than difficult. If you need to change a dashboard bulb, you may want to pay a garage to do the work for you.
These are essential safety items on all cars. Your car’s front and rear brakes, including the handbrake, must work to a satisfactory level. Have any worn brake discs, pads, drums, and shoes replaced before the MOT test.
And if your handbrake doesn’t work as it should, it might need adjustment. In some cases, the handbrake cables might have stretched and need replacement.
MOT testers will also check the condition of your car’s tyres. The legal tread limit for tyres in the UK is 1.6 mm. Brand new tyres have a tread of 8 mm. I recommend replacing your tyres for brand new ones as soon as they drop down to 4 mm. Although such a tread level isn’t illegal, it can make driving in adverse conditions dangerous due to the lack of grip.
keibr / Flickr
Your car’s tyres will also be scrutinised for bulges, tears and cracking in the sidewalls.
Does your windscreen have any cracks or chips? If so, get a windscreen company to check it for you before you submit your car for a MOT test. Any cracks or chips larger than 10 mm can be an automatic fail.
Many small chips and cracks can get repaired for free through your car insurance. But if you need a replacement windscreen, expect to pay around £75 if you have fully comprehensive insurance cover.
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