Our Apprentice of the Year takes you through this simple guide to help you prepare your car - and yourself - for your next MOT.

Let us help you with your MOT

Each year, around 40% of cars fail their MOT, so we know it's something many motorists approach with a sense of dread. Our technicians carry out around 30,000 tests each month, so we probably know more than most about the things that often lead to vehicles failing the test.

We've prepared this simple guide to help you prepare your car - and yourself - for your next MOT.

First things first

Do you know when your MOT is due? Write the date in your diary or use a reminder service such as the one on our website.

Have you left yourself plenty of time? There's no need to leave the test to the last minute - an MOT can be done up to a month before your last one runs out, meaning you can avoid last-minute panics and give yourself time to organise any work that might be needed.

Before taking your car to the garage, make sure you have:

  • checked that the vehicle identification number (VIN) is present and can be clearly seen (the VIN is usually found where the dashboard meets the windscreen on the driver's side);
  • got all the keys (for the ignition, doors, boot and fuel cap);
  • checked there's enough oil;
  • checked there's enough screenwash;
  • got enough fuel; and
  • set the headlight adjusters to '0' (mention to your garage if you are not sure how to do this).

If you answer 'no' to any of the following, speak to your garage as there might be a problem.

Inside the car

  • Do all the doors open from the inside?
  • Is the driver's seat secure and does it slide back and forth on its runners?
  • Are the seat belts free from damage, and do they fasten OK and release under a bit of pressure?
  • Is the rear-view mirror secure and the glass not broken?
  • When you start the car, do all the dashboard warning lights go out?
  • Do the 'telltale' lights for items like the indicators, hazard lights and main beam all work?
  • Does the horn sound?
  • Is the windscreen free from chips or cracks? Any chip or crack larger than 10mm in front of the driver and 40mm within the area cleared by the wipers is likely to be a problem.
  • Do the windscreen washers work and the wipers clear the screen effectively?

Outside the car

  • Do all the doors open and close as they should? And the bonnet and boot?
  • Are the mirrors secure and the glass not broken?
  • Are the wipers in good condition and free from splits and damage?
  • Do the tyres have enough tread depth (at least 1.6mm across ¾ of the tyre) and are they free from bulges, lumps or cuts?
  • Are all the lights working, including the rear registration lamp and brake lights, and are the lenses free from damage and secure?
  • Is there a rubber seal in the petrol cap and does the cap fit securely?

After your MOT

Once your car has passed its MOT, you might think you're set for another 12 months of worry-free motoring. Unfortunately, that's not always the case. Here are five reasons why.

  1. An MOT is a visual inspection that simply confirms a car is safe and legal at the time it is tested. It doesn't mean the vehicle will stay in a roadworthy condition until the next MOT or that the car is mechanically safe.
  2. Some items that are important for your safety and comfort, including the spare tyre, rear wiper, reversing light and heater or air-conditioning system, are not checked in the MOT.
  3. A properly maintained car will not only use less fuel but faults will be found earlier, which means your car is less likely to break down.
  4. If your car has a warranty, the manufacturer usually makes it a condition of the warranty that your car must be serviced. If you miss a service, the warranty may not be valid and any claim you make under it may be refused.
  5. A service history is proven to add value to a car when you come to sell it. The first thing most buyers will look for is a set of stamps in the service manual.

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