10 simple tips to help you pass your MOT

Motoring 2020-7-23
MOT Checks You Can Do At Home To Help You Pass

Save money on your MOT by completing these simple checks at home.

Now that the MOT extension has ended, from 1st of August 2020, all cars over 3 years old will be expected to have a valid MOT certificate. Drivers also need to ensure that their road tax is up to date to prevent driving on the road illegally. When the MOT test changed in 2018, this lead to 10 million cars failing in the first 12 months, making regular maintenance even more important.

If your MOT expired at the end of July, you will automatically get a 6-month extension - use this time to ensure your vehicle is up to scratch. For drivers with both their MOT and road tax expiring by this date, you will need to wait until your MOT has been extended before you can renew your tax. Don't worry though, the government will extend your road tax expiry date by a few days to allow for this.

Follow our 10 step checklist to make sure your car is MOT ready and help get that pass first time. You can even download your copy here, making it even easier to do your checks.

1. Number plate

Not only do your number plates need to be visible and in good condition, but they also need to be up to DVLA standard. That means no patterned backgrounds or italic fonts - even the letter-spacing must be correct.

If your number plate doesn't conform to these rules, then it's an instant MOT fail as well as a possible £1,000 fine if police catch you.

2. Mirrors

To pass your MOT, you need to have a minimum of one offside mirror and one interior mirror but its good practice to have all three in working order - this means no cracks that impair your view either.

If you do have any issues with your mirrors, try to get these replaced before your MOT giving you time to shop around and getting the best quote.

3. Windscreen

Apart from cracks and chips, another common failure is having an obscured driving view with things like hanging air fresheners, stickers and phone cradles being the biggest culprits, so make sure to remove these objects.

It's also good practice to ensure your wiper blades are in good condition and your screenwash is fully topped up before your MOT to prevent an unnecessary fail. 

4. Exterior Lights

According to the RAC, 18.9% of cars fail their MOT for something as minor as a blown bulb. It's a super easy check to do by switching on all your lights and walking around your car to see if they're all working. If any don't work, you can replace these yourself for a fraction of what a garage will charge.

When it comes to the brake lights, you may need to enlist some help from a friend or family member. Alternatively, a reflective surface such a window would be just as effective.

5. Tyres

Making sure your tread depth is at least 1.6mm is both a safety and a legal requirement on UK roads. Not only is it dangerous to be driving with bald tyres but for each tyre that's illegal, you could be fined £2,500 and have 3 points on your licence if you're caught by the police!

A simple way of checking that your tyres are ok is by doing the 20p test. Just insert a 20 pence piece into your tread, and if it comes above the outer band of the coin, then it's above the legal limit. It's always good to keep an eye on your tyres to make sure that there are no signs of wear and tear as well any damage caused by potholes or debris from the road. 


This one is nice and straightforward, but believe it or not, your car will fail its MOT if the horn is faulty, so make sure yours works…beep beep!


Make sure is at the correct level or the test centre can refuse to carry out the MOT on your vehicle because they will be unable to test your emissions. Checking your oil level often also means you will avoid damaging your engine, which is an expensive repair.

Oil and filter changes are recommended every 10,000 miles or 12 months (check your vehicle handbook to be sure) – basically whichever comes first. These can be done quite quickly at home and require minimal equipment but be warned…it can be messy.

How to check your oil:

  • Grab a rag and pop your bonnet.

  • Locate the dipstick (usually with a yellow or orange plastic handle) and pull out.

  • Wipe it and put back in.

  • Remove one more time and check the reading. There should be a min and max mark at the end of the dipstick.

  • If it's below the minimum, then top up with manufacturer-approved oil.

8.Warning lights

Check that all the dashboard lights come on when you start the car then disappear after a few seconds. If any of the lights stay lit, then arrange to have your motor to be checked over.

If you feel confident, you can try resolving them yourself, eg. If the oil light is on, is your oil fully topped up?

9. Clean car

Your car won't fail because it's a little messy, but if it's filthy inside or out (or both), then the garage can refuse to test it on health and safety grounds.

Research conducted by Scrap Car Comparison found that over 2,000 drivers were refused an MOT because their vehicles were that dirty or inaccessible.

So when you take your car in, make sure that both number plates are visible, the lights are clean and that the interior is clutter-free.

10. All year round maintenance

The easiest way to make sure your car is ready for its MOT is by maintaining your car all year round. Whether it's checking your engine coolant in the summer or keeping on top of your tyres in the winter, taking a few mins a few times a week to make sure your car is in tip-top condition will save you money in the long run.

Extra hints and tips

  • Always take your car to a reputable garage for repairs and maintenance - this doesn't mean you have to pay over the odds but doing a bit of research will benefit the life of your vehicle in the long run.

  • Book your cars MOT a few weeks in advance of its expiration so that if any work does need doing, you can shop around for the best quote and save some £££s.

  • Using a council-run MOT garage is a good way to keep the cost down as there is no motivation from them to find issues with your car.

Low-cost car loans

If you fancy getting a new motor and need a helping hand, our low-cost car loans start from just 3.9% APR Representative between £5,000 and £25,000. Click here to find out more.

Hitachi Hints and Tips is intended to be informative and interesting. It does not constitute financial advice, and you should always do further research when making any financial decisions. All information was correct at date of publication.


Live chat

best live chat