How to prepare your car for an MOT

1 in 5 cars fail their first MOT test. If your car is older than three years, an annual MOT is required to show that your vehicle is roadworthy and meets a range of safety and environmental standards under the DVSA (driver and vehicle standards agency) regulations.
Preparing your car for an MOT will improve the chances of your pass rate, and with these tips from Exminster Garage, you’ll get your vehicle back on the road in no time.

What is covered in an MOT test?

The MOT and car servicing garage will check a number of elements including suspension, battery, number plates, brakes and bodywork. It is vital that your car is safe to drive, and if anything fails, you may need to pay for repairs before you’re allowed on the road again. The MOT test will usually take around 45 minutes and will generally work through a standard checklist like the following:

  • Vehicle identification number
  • Registration plates
  • Steering and suspension
  • Horn
  • Windscreen
  • Lights
  • Mirrors
  • Seating and belts
  • Wipers and washers
  • Tyres
  • Fuel system
  • Emissions
  • Exhaust system


General MOT checks

Turn on the ignition and do the following as a general check up for your car before an MOT test. It’s helpful to note down or report any issues you may find while running the following:

  • Assess the horn and ensure that it is in full working order
  • Check the movement of the windscreen wipers, if they are stiff or do not work, head to your local garage so that you can have new wipers fitted
  • Top up the screen wash
  • Check that your windscreen is free of cracks or chips
  • Give your car a thorough clean inside and out, MOT certificates can be refused if a car is too dirty!
  • Listen out for any rattling noises when running your vehicle as this may indicate problems with the exhaust system.
  • Check your oil levels

car windscreen check

Tyre checks

Check your tyres for damage and assess whether they meet the minimum tread depth of 1.6mm, if they do not, getting them replaced before your MOT will ensure that you pass this section of the test.

Lighting checks

Lighting is often a failure point of an MOT , so please check the following before your booking:

  • Exterior bulbs are working, renew any failing bulbs.
  • All light lenses are free from damage and cracks.
  • Headlights, front, rear and side lights, all indicators and number plate lights must be checked.

car headlights

Bodywork checks

Ensure that number plates are well secured, clearly visible and appropriate for the year of your vehicle. There should be no signs of sharp edges, your bumper should be completely secure and you must be able to access all doors from the interior and exterior.

Brake checks

Brakes are a vital component to the success of your road journeys, and ideally, these should always be checked by a specialist. However, there are certain aspects that you can review.

  • Check that the fluid level in the brake system’s reservoir is between the ‘min’ and ‘max’ indicators – refer to your car’s handbook for information on where to find this
  • Check the handbrake but pulling, if you have to pull the lever too far up, the cable may need adjusting
  • Alternatively, if the handbrake can be released by simply tapping the lever, it will need tightening

Steering checks

The most efficient way to check the steering of a car is by driving it. If you notice that it feels different to normal in any way, then getting it looked at before your MOT expires is a good idea. If your car has a steering box, ensure that there are no leaks.

Listen for knocks or whining from the power steering pump when turning the steering wheel as both of these may indicate worn components.

After your MOT:

Always read the comments from your MOT passing certificate, although you may have passed, any advisories given will need to be looked at in the future.

MOT’s with Exminster Garage

Exeter Garage in Exminster

As a local Exeter car garage, we specialise in MOT testing and our highly skilled mechanics will advise you on the best actions to take to ensure your certificate of passing. If you are seeking a car service before your MOT test to bring it up to a standard before the test begins, we are equipped to carry this out.

Call us on 01392 952896 or fill out our contact form to book your Exeter MOT test or car servicing appointment today.

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