MOT checks you can do at home

Motoring 2019-5-9
MOT checks you can do at home.jpg

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

Any car over 3 years old needs to have a valid MOT certificate to be driven on the road legally, but if it fails, it can be costly. By making time to do all these little checks in advance, you might be able to save £££'s. 


This one is nice and simple, 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 your oil is topped up to the correct level or the test centre can refuse to carry out the MOT on your vehicle. This is because they will be unable to test your emissions.

How to:

  • Grab a rag and pop your bonnet.
  • Locate the dipstick (usually with a yellow or orange plastic handle) and pull out.
  • Give it a wipe 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.

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 easily at home and require minimal equipment but be warned…it can be messy.

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.

Number plates

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 and 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 caught by police.

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?


On average, 10% of motorists get an MOT failure due to their tyres not being up to scratch. Spend a bit of time checking each tyre carefully for lumps, bulges or cuts and double check that the tread is road legal.

A simple way check the tread depth is to do the 20p test. If you put a 20p into your tread and the inner edge can’t be seen then your tyres are legal. If you can see the edge then you will need to think about getting new tyres.

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.


Apart from the obvious 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. Make sure these objects are removed before your MOT to prevent an unnecessary fail.

Also, its good practice to ensure your wiper blades are in good condition and your screen wash is fully topped up.


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.

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.

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 definitely 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.

If you need a helping hand getting a new motor then check out our low-cost car loans from just {headlineAPR}% APR Representative between {headlineMinValue} and £25,000.

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.


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