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If your car or van is three years old or older, it will have to pass an MOT test every 12 months to prove it's still roadworthy and safe to be driven. Although the test is relatively inexpensive at around £54.85, however, things can get expensive in the event of a failure with remedial work then having to be paid for to get it through the re-
Your headlights, rear lights, fog lamps, brake lights and indicator lights all have to be in full working order to get through an MOT, so check they are all working as they should and replace any that aren't. Bulbs are cheap, but they'll be a whole lot cheaper if you can replace them yourself rather than paying a mechanic to do it for you between the test and a re-
Tyres are a common reason for MOT failures that can easily be avoided. They need to have a minimum of 1.6 millimetres of tread depth, but ideally more. If you check the tyres and find a problem, it's cheaper to shop around for a replacement beforehand than it is to accept what the garage may charge after a failure.
If any of your seatbelts are worn or broken it's easy to see and you don't need to be a mechanic to diagnose this potential failure. A car having its first MOT is unlikely to have worn seatbelts unless it's done mega mileage, but if you don't regularly have passengers in the back you might not be aware of a broken mechanism, so it's a quick and easy check.
Have a good look at your windscreen and check for chips or cracks. The maximum size you can get away with is 10mm in the drivers' line of vision or 40mm in the rest of the area swept by the wiper blades. Even if you find something that squeezes in below these parameters, it's still a good idea to get it fixed as it's only going to get worse and will eventually mean a new screen if left to deteriorate. If you've got fully comprehensive insurance you can probably even get it done for free, so ask your insurer.
Also make sure you wipers and windscreen washers are working properly as they certainly need to be to get through an MOT. Ensure the washers are fully operational and that the rubber wipers aren't worn in places and smearing the screen.
Press the brake pedal and if it's soft or spongy in any way, there could be air in the hydraulic system, which then requires bleeding to remove. It's definitely something you can do yourself, but a decent car jack will be needed.
If you're not familiar with exactly what does and what doesn't get checked during an MOT, it's a good idea to become acquainted with what is required, as you may be surprised. The seal around your petrol cap can't be worn, mirrors have to be fully usable and not damaged, your hazard lights have to work even when the ignition is turned off, and the horn has to work properly. All these things are easy to check yourself, and fixing them in advance is almost always going to be preferable to remedial action after a failure.
Don't stress about what you can't do anything about though, and you may also be surprised about what won't result in a fail. Would you believe a car can pass an MOT with a completely worn out clutch? It's hard to believe but it's true, as your vehicle doesn't have to undergo a test drive as part of its MOT.
16 January 2017