posted 5 years ago

Can you avoid failing your MOT?

Two minute check could save motorists time and money

New figures released by VOSA, the government body that oversees MOT tests show that of the 8.1 million MOT failures last year a massive proportion were caused by easy-to-spot issues. It seems that motorists out there could avoid their car failing the MOT. 

Almost a fifth of MOT failure items could be avoided if motorists notified their garage before the annual roadworthiness test is carried out. Simple-to-spot issues range from blown bulbs and worn tyres problems with windscreen wipers and low fluid levels. Manufacturer main dealers across the country have united to help eliminate simple failures by setting-out a simple series of checks for drivers. Every car-maker in the UK is participating with technicians at manufacturer main dealerships ready and able to assist customers who might be unsure about carrying out the checks themselves.

Taking just a ‘Minute Or Two’, the 10-step checklist takes vehicle owners through a series of quick-and-easy checks. By forewarning the dealership of any required work in advance of the MOT, motorists can give their vehicle the best chance of passing the test first time around. 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, motorists can ensure that they are in the best possible position to pass the test, saving themselves time as well as money on costs encountered with a failure. The full ‘Minute Or Two’ checklist can be viewed at, where visitors can also watch a video on carrying out the check and use a Garage Finder tool to locate their nearest dealer. 

The ten step checklist comprises of the following and really does take ‘a minute or two’. 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.


The MOT test procedure in parts goes into to much regulation detail and has dual standards in others. Basically it needs updating to a sensible specification that both ensure the functional and safety aspect of the car without the insignificant bit that just generates revenue. My issue is with the rear fog lights especially after the recent pile-ups in fogy conditions. The regulation says that: - Rear fog lamps** . must be fitted to the centre or offside of the vehicle. Now this is all well and not so good as two lights must be better than one especially as in most cases a bulb is fitted to the other none operating light unit. In another section of the regulation referring to number plate lights, it says that all lamps must be working! For the sake of one link wire joining the two fog lights costing pence compared to the extra visibility in fog and to eliminate the double standards of the MOT regulation, come on cheep skate manufactures be sensible. Just a thought. If you drive on the continent, and similarly continentals drive in this country, would the one light to either offside or near side be ILLEGAL?

The in this article is a good guide to all sensible motorists, but what is the difference between sensible and legal ? When the MOT first started it was only a few pounds, and the test was the breaks, lights and steering where the tester shook the wheels to test the wheel barings and track rods etc, then silencers et-al slipped in and its never stopped. The cost has gone up and up and its the cleverest legal rip off ever devised because the test is only valid on the test day and not valid the day after and the motorist can be find for defective parts. Recently my car was tested by the main agency and I was told that I needed new wiper blades or the car would fail ?? Wiper blades, surely not part of the legal test!! there was actually nothing wrong with them, but I let them change them because they gave me a good price for the yearly service. For Paul, my mate had the same problem with more than one of his top of the range Vauxhalls, eventually the problem was solved and it turned out to be something to do with a magnetic strip on a fuel card or something similar which he kept in a recess on the centre console which effected the electronics.

The changing of tyres by the driver has become a thing of the past. Companies like British Gas don't let their drivers change wheels in even normal cars in the event of a puncture. Their drivers are told to phone the AA. This was given as an excuse for being an hour late for an appointment to service a domestic boiler. If companies adopt policies like this, what is the chance of persuading the general public to change wheels?

Actually, Barry Allen - all garages aren't the same. Some council garages test cars as if it's a taxi, and go greatly overboard. Personally, my garage doesn't charge for changing bulbs, provided that it's easily accessible.

The best way to avoid an MOT failure having done the above checks is to then take the vehicle to a Council Testing Station. No incentive to fail in order to get repair work. Make all MOT testing independant of garages thus removing licence to print money.

The last comment I posted was for Paul Latham RE : Light issue

Yes Warning lights I knew a guy who REMOVED THE BULB for his ABS light as it was similar to your airbag light it was a RANDOM event and he passed MoT , BUT I personally would go & get it checked and repaired .

The days when no self-respecting parent would allow a son or daughter to take to the road without being able to change a wheel or a bulb has sadly gone. Tyres used to need checking every week but now mostly they don't so people no longer bother. The engine oil and radiator levels used to need regular topping up but mostly this is no longer a requirement so some people don't even know how to raise the bonnet much less what the dipstick is for or what it means. There is a huge gap in the law here where there is a requirement for each and every driver to ensure the vehicle they drive complies with the Law constantly but there is no requirement for them to demonstrate any practical ability to do so! The government should be thoroughly ashamed of itself as should each and every driver who doesn't or is incapable of checking the safety of their own vehicle. My father who was a professional driver used to say such people should not be allowed to drive and I agree with him.

I have an air bag warning light that occasionally flashes yellow on the dash read-out on my Jaguar XJ6 TDVi. I am told that this may be an MoT failure point, although it seems to be random.Last time it was tested, it stayed off, and the car did pass the MoT.