MOT checklist – everything you need to know about your MOT

December 1, 2016

The Ministry of Transport (MOT) test is an annual test performed by MOT station technicians and checks the vehicle’s safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions.

The test is required in Great Britain for most vehicles over three years old with the exception of any vehicle built before 1960.

MOT test results are stored on a secure central database connected to all MOT testing sites.

You can check the status of your vehicle’s MOT to ensure legal compliance by visiting MOT status check, failure to maintain a valid MOT Certificate will affect your ability to obtain car tax and could invalidate your insurance.

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What is checked in an MOT test?

Both the interior and exterior of your vehicle will be inspected for functionality, safety, and proper working order. The process is comprehensive and takes approximately 45 minutes to complete, here’s a checklist of what you can expect from your MOT Test:

Exterior Inspection:

  • Bodywork & Frame – Corrosion or damage
  • Suspension & Brakes – Wear & Tear Safety
  • Tyres – Correct Size, Pressure & Tread
  • Battery, Power Steering and Brake Fluid Inspection
  • Exhaust System – Emissions, Noise Level & Secure Attachment
  • Windshield – Chips, Cracks or Scratches & Wiper Functionality
  • Registration Plate – Visibility & Security
  • Lights, Mirrors & Doors – Functionality
  • Gas Cap – Secure fit to prevent evaporation

Interior Inspection:

  • Electronic System Check
  • Speedometer Functionality
  • Seatbelt Functionality
  • Lights, Mirrors, Seats & Door Functionality
  • Electronic Parking Brake & Stability Control Check
  • Steering Column Inspection for absent or dysfunctional steering locks
  • Lighting Modifications
  • Airbag Functionality
  • Tow Bar Modifications


What happens if my vehicle fails the MOT Test?

Once your test has been completed, you will be provided with a printed receipt. If your vehicle failed any portion of the test you will see a listing of any remedial work. This will also include a listing of potential ‘advisory’ problems that are not yet severe enough to cause failure of the test, but should be addressed.

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You will have the option of completing any necessary repairs at the garage that administered the MOT test or at any location away from the test centre. You are further given a free retest if you complete the repairs through the test centre. Also if they’re completed away from the test centre, providing that the retest is completed within 24 hours of failure.

If you disagree with your results, discuss them first with the test station, and if necessary report your experience to the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) office by calling 0845 600 5977.


  • using a vehicle without a test certificate being in force carries a maximum fine of £1,000
  • if the vehicle is adapted to carry more than eight passengers the maximum fine increases to £2,500
  • failing to produce a test certificate to a police officer also carries a fine of up to £1,000

Conviction for any of these offences will not result in penalty points being placed on a driving license.

MOT checklist

There are several checks you can make yourself prior to taking your vehicle in for its MOT, which can help you identify any potential problems. These include:

Headlights and indicators

Make sure that all of the lights on the car work correctly – this includes all headlights, sidelights, hazards lights, rear lights, brake lights and indicators.

Number plate

The vehicle’s number plate should be clean and easy to read, so if there’s any dirt or residue on it give it a quick wipe.


The wheels and tyres are very important for safe driving, so checking them is a key part of an MOT. The should obviously be undamaged, and tyres should conform to the minimum legal tread depth of 1.6mm.


Check that the drivers seat can easily be adjusted forwards and backwards – if you are the only driver of the vehicle you may not realise a fault so it can pay to check before your MOT. You should also make sure that all seatbelts are working correctly by tugging them sharply.


Cracks and other damage to windscreens can cause an MOT ‘fail’ if they are larger than 40mm – so make sure you address any damage to windscreens before your MOT. Also check the windscreen wipers and screenwash, because if these do not function adequately then they can cause the vehicle to fail the MOT.


This shouldn’t take long to check! Just give it a quick blast and make sure it works.

Fuel and oil

Top up the car with fuel and oil, as garages have been known to turn vehicles away from their MOT if they don’t hold suitable levels of fuel and oil. These are needed to run the car and check emission levels, so if there isn’t adequate levels then the MOT cannot be completed.

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