Maintaining your car to pass its MOT

Many cars fail their MOTs due to something simple that could easily be put right before the test, thus saving the inconvenience and expense of a re-test. A lot of small jobs can be done by the car owner even if he or she is not an experienced mechanic.

Simple checks

Turn the ignition on and check that the horn works, that all the windscreen wipers and washers are working, that all the lights are working including number plate lights and brake lights, and check that the seat belts work properly and are neither frayed nor cut.

The alignment of the headlights should also be checked.


Worn tyres are one of the most common causes of MOT failures. Before taking a car for an MOT check that none of the tyres are damaged. There should be no bulges or objects sticking in the tread.

Check that the tread is adequate across the whole of the tyre. A tyre that is worn more on one side than the other can be a sign of bad alignment. Also check the suspension and wheel bearings by shaking the wheel and checking for excessive free play.


Check that the handbrake is working correctly. If the lever has to be pulled up through too many clicks the cable needs adjusting. If the handbrake can be released by simply tapping on the lever, the cable will need tightening. Brake pedals can also be tested. If the brakes feel spongy when the brake pedal is depressed, the hydraulic system may have air in it and this will have to be removed.

Steering column

The steering wheel should feel reasonably tight. Abnormal movements or looseness is an indication of wear.

Shock absorbers

Bounce every corner of the car. If the shock absorbers are in good condition the car should return to rest after just one or two bounces.

Windscreen and mirrors

A car can pass its MOT even if there are small chips in the windscreen, but a big crack will certainly mean a failure. Small chips should be fixed before they expand. Side mirrors should be securely fixed and the glass should be in reasonable condition.


Check for leaks in the exhaust by getting someone to hold a cloth over the exhaust whilst the car is started. If the car stalls after a few seconds, there are no leaks in the exhaust. Leaks in the exhaust must be repaired to get the car through its MOT.
Lookers MOT Services

Lookers car dealerships and service centres, are approved by the respective manufacturer, offering a quality assured and more efficient service. Head to your nearest Lookers franchise for more details on our MOT and car servicing.