To give your car the best chance of passing an MOT first time, it is worth investing in a pre-MOT check.
A qualified technician can carry out a pre-MOT check on your vehicle, looking for any issues which could result in an MOT fail, which you can then have fixed ahead of an upcoming test.
You can perform this visual inspection yourself if you feel confident doing so, but this is an inexpensive job which you can entrust to a professional.
In this article, we’ve put together a helpful list of pre-MOT checks, to help you avoid an MOT fail.
What Is a Pre-MOT Check?
A pre-MOT check is an in-depth visual inspection of your vehicle, which is carried out before an MOT.
When you book a pre-MOT check, a technician will complete all of the visual checks included in an MOT, looking for any faults.
You can then opt to have these faults fixed before the MOT test, thereby increasing your chances of a first-time pass.
Essentially, a pre-MOT is a checklist of things that can be checked before your test – by yourself or a skilled mechanic.
It doesn’t take long to perform these checks, and you can save time and money in the long run by caring for your car right now.
You can add a pre-MOT check to your MOT booking for a small fee when you book with us.
Just select pre-MOT check whilst booking, and the mechanic can do these checks before they conduct the test.
For instance, something as simple as low washer fluid can lead to an MOT fail, which a mechanic can easily top up for you during the check.
It really is worth investing in a pre MOT check, so that your car is completely ready for its test.
If you wish to do a pre-MOT check yourself, then there are a range of checks you should carry out.
What Is Included in a BookMyGarage Pre-MOT Check?
During a BookMyGarage pre-MOT check, a technician can perform a visual check of the following for you:
- Seats and Seatbelts
- Warning Lights
- Essential Switch Operation
- Wipers and Washers
- Brake Controls
- Steering Wheel
- Steering Column
- Number Plate
- Number Plate Lights
- Fuel Tank Cap
- Boot Lid
- Towbar (If Fitted)
- Bodywork Condition
- MOT Failures on the Wheels
- Tyre Tread & External Wall
- Brake Pads (No Wheel Removal)
- Suspension & Dampers
- Fuel System
By visually checking these components for you, a professional mechanic can help you to avoid any nasty surprises during the actual MOT test.
Why Should I Book a Pre-MOT?
Regardless of whether you pass or fail, an MOT will cost you time and money – but a fail can end up costing you even more.
By improving your car’s chances of passing the MOT, you can spot and fix issues early on and save yourself the time and cost of an MOT retest in the process.
Can I Do These Checks Myself?
Whilst trusting a skilled mechanic is always a good idea, if you are looking to save money then you can absolutely do a pre MOT check yourself.
Consider making and referring to a pre-MOT checklist - this should cover all of the components which you can visually inspect ahead of an MOT test.
You can watch this video to learn how to prepare your vehicle for an upcoming MOT test.
Did you know that lights are the most common cause of MOT failures?
As part of your regular car maintenance, you should be checking that all of your bulbs – front, rear, fog, brake and indicators – are working well. Even your number plate light needs to be in good working order.
Switch all the lights on – inside and out – and walk around your car. Ask someone to stand behind the vehicle to check the rear brake lights as you put your foot on the brake pedal.
If the bulbs are dim or dead, replace them as soon as possible. You can get cheap bulbs at the majority of automotive retailers and fit these yourself. Some will even install the bulbs for you, for an additional charge.
You should also look out for any unsecured light mounts, as this can lead to MOT failure.
Make sure all your lights are the correct colours, too.
As you can imagine, your car’s horn is designed to be loud enough to warn other drivers of dangerous situations.
To check your horn, press firmly and listen.
If it sounds weak or quiet, then book an appointment at your local garage and have this fixed.
Electrics and Battery
If your battery is flat or won’t hold charge, then your car will struggle to start.
You can book a free battery inspection at a local garage to fix the issue in advance of your MOT.
Towbar (If Applicable)
You should check that your towbar is secure and in good condition.
You may need to tighten, replace or repair it if it is damaged before your MOT.
Your steering should feel secure, and the wheel should be easy to turn.
If steering is difficult or feels loose, you should book an inspection right away.
When you press down on the side of your bonnet, it should rock back into position immediately.
If this is not the case – or your car looks and feels lopsided – you should book a suspension repair ahead of your MOT.
Brakes and Handbrake
You should check that your vehicle doesn’t pull to one side when braking. If it does, then you will need to have this looked at by a mechanic ahead of the MOT test.
If you have alloy wheels, then you may be able to perform a visual inspection of the braking system without removing the wheel. Look for excessive brake pad wear, and for pitted brake discs – if you notice either issue, then your brakes will need to be replaced.
The handbrake should hold the car firmly in place – you should book a brake repair if there is no resistance when you engage it.
You should also inspect your brake fluid reservoir to see if the fluid is low or looks spoiled, in which case you should book a brake fluid change.
Given that spoiled brake fluid can impact your car’s stopping distance, it is considered a dangerous fault during an MOT, so you will need to have this fixed before your test.
Tyres and Wheels
You can perform the 20p tread depth test, and put air in your tyres if needed.
Be sure to look for any damage, cracks, exposed cords or punctures – these are dangerous faults, meaning you will need to have new tyres fitted before your MOT.
Body, Boot and Bonnet
All bodywork should be free from corrosion, rust and sharp edges. If your car has suffered an accident, it may be worth repairing the bodywork to avoid a dangerous MOT fault.
The boot and bonnet lids should lie flat and close properly. Check that you can open and close both as part of your pre-MOT checks.
Your licence plates should be correct and clean to pass the MOT.
You can check the Drivers and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) advice on what your licence plates should look like if you're unsure. Make sure that the licence plate light works as well. If not, you will need to replace the bulb.
Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
All vehicles registered after 1980 have a vehicle identification number – or VIN – somewhere on the vehicle.
You can check that yours matches the VIN in your vehicle handbook as you follow the pre-MOT checklist.
If a vehicle is stolen or has been modified, then it may have had its VIN removed. That means that if yours is removed or damaged, then it will lead to MOT failure.
You should report this to the DVLA.
If you can’t prove the vehicle’s original VIN – say you don’t have the original vehicle handbook – you will have to apply for a replacement VIN.
Once this has been approved, issued and stamped, you can apply to register the vehicle.
Any oil or fuel leaks should be repaired as soon as possible.
You need adequate fuel and oil levels so that the emissions test can be carried out.
To check your oil levels, you can remove the dipstick from the engine and give it a wipe.
Put it back in the engine and then remove it again. The oil level should lie between the minimum and maximum marks – check this when your car is parked on an even level.
Look out for excessive or blue smoke, or a rattling coming from your exhaust. These often indicate an issue with the exhaust system, which could be increasing your car's emissions.
If you suspect this, book an exhaust repair immediately.
Be aware of any fuel or oil leaking from the exhaust, as this could signal that the spark plugs or glow plugs are not warming and burning fuel properly.
An increasing number of cars have failed their MOTs as a result of an exhaust problem in recent years – make sure you have any exhaust issues fixed before your test.
Windscreen and Mirrors
Anything that obstructs the driver’s view of the road – think sat nav mounts, stickers and air fresheners – will result in a fail.
You should have any chips or cracks in the windscreen repaired as soon as you notice them, as a windscreen replacement can be an expensive job.
Any chip or crack on the windscreen which is larger than 40mm will result in MOT failure – and any damage larger than 10mm in the area covered by the wiper on the driver’s side will also lead to a fail.
As for your mirrors, they must be secure and free of any cracks.
A cracked or smashed mirror can lead to MOT failure – you should have damaged mirrors replaced before the test.
Whilst you can find replacement mirrors for your car’s make and model online, you should be wary of ‘self-adhesive’ ones, as they are likely to fall off again in no time at all.
Wipers and Washers
Made sure that your windscreen washers work, and that your wipers aren’t showing any signs of wear or splitting.
If your washer feed is blocked, then you will have to address this before the MOT test.
Please know that you can fail your MOT if you don’t have screen wash – so remember to top up the bottle in advance of the test!
During an MOT, the tester will check that the driver’s seat can be adjusted, and that all seats are securely fitted.
The seat backs need to be able to be fixed in the upright position.
If you notice that your seats don’t seem secure, then you should have this looked at ahead of the test.
Check all the seatbelts for tears or damage, as well as ensuring they restrain safely.
To do this, sit in each seat and jerk forward suddenly to mimic sudden braking. If a seatbelt doesn't immediately catch you, there's a fault which needs fixing before your test.
Clip each seatbelt in position and make sure they fit securely in the buckle as well.
The door latch needs to be secure in the closed position.
The front doors must open from inside and outside the vehicle, and the rear doors need to open from outside the vehicle.
Whilst your warning lights should all come on when you switch the ignition on, if any of the warning lights on your dashboard stay lit when you start driving, you should have the related issue resolved ahead of your test.
You should also check that your speedometer and rev counter accurately reflect your speed. If not, you should book an electrical repair, as an inaccurate speedometer can lead to MOT failure.
How Much Does a Pre-MOT Check Cost?
When you book through BookMyGarage, a pre-MOT check can cost just £10.
Please note that you must book the pre-MOT check for the same day as the MOT test, and you must book both appointments at the same garage.
We hope that you have enjoyed learning about pre-MOT checks. By taking the time to carry out these checks, you can save yourself time, money, and effort in the long run.