As a car gets older, parts will start to break down. Other components will not function as efficiently as they once did, and this could lead to an increase in emissions. For these reasons, the government insists that each vehicle (older than three years) is checked on an annual basis, to ensure that it is safe and complies with stringent environmental regulation. You will want to ensure that you do not miss an inspection when it is due, but you may also want to know exactly what they look for when they check your MOT. What is involved?
The Driver and Vehicle Standards Authority (DVSA) is responsible for licensing individual testing stations across the country. At each station, inspectors are ready to check your MOT status using the latest equipment and according to the current government standards.
Contrary to what some people may think, an MOT test will not tell you if the engine, transmission, and gearbox are in good condition and working as they should. Instead, inspectors are concerned with road safety, so the vehicle does not pose a hazard to its occupants or others.
Basic Procedures When They Check Your MOT
The core structure of the vehicle must be in an acceptable condition. If there is any accident damage, it must be self-contained and not pose a risk of injury to any other party. In other words, there should be no sharp edges that could injure a bystander in the event of a collision. An inspector will look at the underframe and mounting points, in particular, to check for excessive rust.
Moving on to the fuel system, the technician will check for any leaks and make sure that all hoses and pipes are free of defects. While the hose manufacturers typically use braided and strengthened materials, these can break down over time and especially in hot areas underneath the body.
Emissions legislation is stringent, and your car will need to comply with a variety of different tests. Diesel engined vehicles need to pass a smoke test as well.
The inspector will also look at the exhaust system, from the engine manifold to the tailpipe. Secure fitment is essential, and the catalyst (where fitted) and silencer must be intact.
Next, he or she will have a look at the condition of the brakes. Hoses that transport the fluid must be intact, and the vehicle will need to perform effectively during a roller test. They'll also test the anti-lock braking system, and all the dashboard warning lights must work.
All four tyres must be inflated appropriately, without any apparent damage and with sufficient tread depth. The wheels will need to be in good condition and securely attached to the hub.
With the vehicle jacked up off the ground, an inspector will look for excessive play. They may rock the wheel back and forth by hand to see if the stub axle or bushing is okay. This test may also reveal issues with the wheel bearing, which forms the interface between the wheel and the stub axle itself.
Suspension modifications are okay, so long as they have been performed professionally and without welded repairs. Shock absorbers should return the vehicle to a stable position efficiently, and the linking bushes must be in good shape.
You must ensure that all external lights are operating correctly, without blown bulbs and that the headlamps are correctly aligned.
Washers and wipers must work and clear the windscreen effectively, and the screen itself has to be in good condition without major blemish.
The inspector will also have a cursory look at the wiring system throughout the vehicle, as well as battery connections.
Moving inside, the inspector will check to see if all the doors open, from the inside and outside. Your vehicle must have the legally mandated number of mirrors, and they have to be secure and in good condition.
If you have modified the position of the seats, the mounting must be safe and secure. The inspector will want to adjust the seat and ensure that the seatbacks remain in the upright position in everyday use.
You must have the mandatory seat belts in place, both in the front and the rear of the vehicle. They must be attached as recommended by the manufacturer and work as expected.
If your vehicle has malfunction lamps on the dashboard for airbags, limiters and pre-tensioners, these must also be fully operational.
Outside once again, they will check the bonnet to make sure that it can open and close properly, and the same will apply to the boot or tailgate.
Your registration plates have to be in good condition, adequately attached and laid out per the regulations.
Finally, the vehicle identification number must match the information on the logbook.
Following the Test
At the end of the test, the inspector will tell you if the vehicle has passed or failed. You will get a certificate if it's good news, or a list of problems if it's not. If they deem some of these problems to be "dangerous," you will have to fix them before you can legally drive the vehicle on the road.
How Do I Check My MOT?
Now that you know what will happens when they check your MOT, you may want to doublecheck your record. You can go here, enter your registration number and see both your tax and MOT status right away. It'll tell you when your next MOT check is due so that you can book it into an approved station ahead of time. You can also check the MOT history for your vehicle.
Remember, it is an offence to drive a vehicle without a valid MOT certificate, and automated number plate recognition cameras may quickly spot you if you do. You may get a fine and might be in even greater trouble if police officers suspect that your vehicle is in a dangerous condition.
Did you know that "MOT" actually stands for Ministry of Transport? This was the name of the government department initially responsible for road tests back in the 'sixties.