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What you need to check before your car’s MOT

PA Motoring logoPA Motoring 21/11/2017 Blackball Media
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The MOT (Ministry of Transport) test is a series of checks that has to be carried out once a year on all vehicles that are driven in public places.

Currently, it only applies to cars over three years of age, although the government is planning to extend this to four years. Cars that are more than 40-years-old will also be exempt under new rules.

These are the things you need to check if you want your car to pass its next MOT.

1. Body structure

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Your car’s body must be free of serious damage or corrosion in order for it to be deemed safe – it’s not good if your car falls apart in the middle of the road! There mustn’t be any sharp edges either, as these could cause injury, especially in a collision.

2. Towbars

Towbars must be secure and in good condition, so that items being towed do not come loose and cause an accident. The towbar must not have been modified in any way. The 13-pin electrical socket must also be operational.

3. Fuel system

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The mechanic carrying out your MOT will inspect your fuel system, ensuring that all pipes and hoses are secure and that there are no leaks – petrol or diesel pouring out of your vehicle can cause some very serious problems! Your car’s fuel cap will also be checked to see if it works as it should.

4. Emissions

Your car will have to meet a specific set of strict emissions rules. These vary from vehicle to vehicle, depending on factors such as age and fuel type. In some cases, MOT testers will refuse to test certain diesel vehicles if they believe the engine could be damaged in the process.

To prevent this from happening to you, you should make sure your diesel car is properly maintained, has the camshaft drive belt replaced regularly, the governor settings haven’t been tampered with and the engine is fully warmed up when it goes in for the MOT.

5. Exhaust system

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The exhaust itself will be closely examined. The tester will make sure all components are present and working. They will especially make sure that the catalyst hasn’t been removed. The system must also meet limits on noise and leakage.

6. Safety equipment

In order to pass its MOT, your car will need to meet the law on safety equipment. All mandatory seatbelts must be fitted, in good condition and suitable for the vehicle. They must be operational and securely attached.

The dashboard warning lights for safety equipment need to be operating correctly so you know when something’s wrong with your car. Three lights it is compulsory to have working are those for the air bags, seatbelt pre-tensioners and seatbelt load limiters.

7. Seats

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It is mandatory for all seats to be securely fitted and the backs must be able to be fixed in an upright position. It is also compulsory for the driver’s seat to be fully adjustable.

8. Doors

When it comes to doors, the latch must be fitted securely. The front doors have to be able to open from both the inside and outside, while the back doors only have to open from the outside.

All hinges and catches must be in good condition.

9. Mirrors

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Your car will need to meet the minimum number of mirrors for its type. Usually, you are legally required to have one internal rear view mirror and one or two external wing mirrors.

10. Load security

So that your prized possessions don’t go flying out on to the road, your car’s boot needs to able to close properly and securely.

11. Brakes

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Naturally, your car needs to be able to stop. The condition of the brakes will be checked, as well as whether they’ve had any poor repairs or modifications.

An efficiency test will be carried out, followed by a test of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability program (ESP). Warning lights for ABS, ESP, the handbrake and brake fluid will also be tested.

12. Wheels and tyres

The condition of both the wheels and tyres will be thoroughly checked. The mechanic will ensure the wheels are attached securely, as well as ensuring the tyres’ size and tread depth are appropriate. This test does not include spare wheels and tyres.

13. Number plates

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Part of the MOT involves an inspection of your car’s number plate. The tester will look at the condition of the plate and its colour, as well as making sure it has been correctly attached and the characters are correctly formed and spaced.

14. Headlights

The condition of the headlights will be checked, including the operation of both dipped and main beams, their aim and whether the main beam warning light works.

If high intensity discharge (HID) bulbs are fitted, the compulsory self-levelling system and headlamp washers will also need to work.

15. Bonnet

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The bonnet doesn’t escape scrutiny either. The mechanic will make sure that it closes securely – if it flies open while you’re driving along, you’ll certainly have a visibility problem on your hands!

16. Wipers and washers

The wipers and washers on the car’s windscreen – and rear window if applicable – will be checked, as they need to work properly for the driver to have a clear view of the road, especially in rainy conditions.

17. Windscreen

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The car’s windscreen needs to be in good condition, allowing the driver to see what’s going on ahead of them, for the vehicle to be deemed safe.

18. Horn

Your car needs to have a fully working horn to pass. In addition, the horn has to be suitable for the vehicle it’s fitted to – preferably audible, but not deafening.

19. Steering and suspension

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The condition of car’s steering and suspension will undergo a very close check to make sure everything works as it should.

The power steering fluid level will be examined, while the tester will ensure there have been no inappropriate repairs or modifications. The mechanic will also look for corrosion in the power steering pipes or hoses. Finally, the steering lock mechanism will be tested.

20. Vehicle identification number

Cars from after August 1, 1980 have to display a vehicle identification number (VIN). This does not apply to multistage build vehicles, such as converted vans and the like.

21. Electrical

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The final point on the list is the electrical system. Any visible electrical wiring will be checked, as will the battery. These need to be working correctly, as well as safely.

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