Inspecting your own car with our pre MOT checklist can be a huge time and money saver if you’re not sure about your car. We’re not expecting you to be a mechanic after all, but checking for some of the easy and the obvious can be a huge help in getting your car through its MOT first time and keeping the record clean as well as saving you money too.
By splitting our pre MOT checklist into 3 easy to use pieces, you can give your car a thorough mini inspection just doing some general tidying and upkeep, ensuring the best possible health on the day. Each is just as important as the last, so take your time to be thorough with each.
The first place to start is actually inside the vehicle in question, as this is where some of the really simple things will happen. You spend all of your time in here anyway, so really, you should always have some level of understanding of what’s going on. Remember, be thorough.
The first stop just like with driving comes from your seat belt. Take the time to check them all if you can, especially in the front of the vehicle. They should click into the fastened position without any issues and stay there comfortably. Try to also test their lock too by pulling on them sharply as you would in an accident.
2. Dash Lights
Dashboard lights are your car’s way of telling you there is a problem. Always take note of whatever you’re seeing without question. There could be a really serious issue, so take the time to learn about what the sign is and why it’s on in the first place. If it’s something that you can fix yourself, then do so (life low tyre pressure). If it isn’t, then head to a mechanic and get the work done before your MOT if you can. Read more about warning lights in our guide.
The final point in our interior section of the pre MOT checklist actually begins to include some points about the external too but is still vital. Your mirrors are essential to driving your car safely on the road, and you need to check that they are all where they need to be safely and securely (without tape & cracks etc.) before your car can be deemed safe. This especially goes for your wing mirrors.
After these points of the pre MOT checklist conclude, it’s time to move to the outer section of the checklist. Your exterior just like your interior can have a big impact on the outcome of your MOT, so checking everything you can in advance is always a smart move. That goes for both direct and indirect fails too, as we’ll explain.
4. All Lighting
Similarly to your mirrors, your lights are also essential to safe driving. Apply your hazard lights to active all that you can first of all to check all of your indicators as you walk around the outside of your vehicle. Once done and passed, check your lights, sidelights and fog lights too. Don’t forget about your brake lights which you can test with a reflective surface or someone to help.
This one often seems like more of a technicality, but it’s still vital to passing your MOT. Always make sure that your registration plate is visible, on show, and undamaged. Even too much dirt can result in a fail if it means your car can’t be identified on the road. If there is damage, seek to repair or replace ASAP as it’s not good news for your car.
6. Dents & Damage (if structurally impactive)
Damage to the bodywork of your car may seem to be just an aesthetical issue, but it can actually have more meaning than just this on the surface if the damage has affected anything form a structural perspective. Take the time to consider the framework of the car or even get the opinion of a professional. It could be worth getting it repaired in advance if possible. This also impacts your door and boot health too, as these are essential to pass.
Another point that is often considered just a vanity point by most is your glass health. Again, however, this can have a big impact on your MOT result if you have any serious damage, so a small amount of time researching your specific issue and seeing how it will affect you is a smart move. In your windscreen especially, consider how it could impact your view and your driving. It will likely worsen over time.
Tyre health is one of the most common reasons for MOT failure in the UK, and also one of the easiest to fix. Always check your tyres carefully in your pre MOT checklist to see how the tread is and how the structural integrity is if they are particularly old. There are many different forms of tyre wear after all.
Moving into the territory of the slightly more complex, the last stage of our pre MOT checklist comes from a mechanical perspective. That includes aspects that affect the performance or inner workings of your vehicle and the safety of it as a result. There’s much more to an MOT than just these, but these are the things you can test easily at home.
Your brakes have a huge impact on your road safety, that much goes without question. To check your brake health is up to scratch, you should really take note of how effective your brakes are when driving and consider their lifespan. If they have any issues or any squeaking, it may be time to get them serviced and replace the pads. The same goes for your handbrake health too. This should be strong enough to support your car even when on an incline or decline. Check this in advance and make the necessary adjustments to save yourself the effort.
Oil checks are just a standard part of vehicle maintenance and should be done by you regularly anyways. Check the level using the dipstick located in your engine and ensure the levels are sufficient. Too much is as much of a problem as too little. Also take note of your oil health in terms of colour and consistency, as it might be a great time for an oil and filter change.
The final point in our pre MOT checklist comes from your exhaust health. Check this one by driving your car and listening out for any rattling or any excessive noise. These are prime symptoms of a hole in the exhaust system or loose mountings which can cause more problems still. It’s a small detail but it’s still a fail if it happens.
As vehicle inspectors, we’re always going to be encouraging proactive effort to make sure a car is in the best health that it can be. We see problems like these on a daily basis when looking at used cars to approve pre-sale that sellers haven’t inspected themselves. There are always issues waiting to happen with a vehicle, and small steps like this are just one example of how you can make driving easier for yourself.