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The Good Garage Guide: Passing your MoT

Published 09 May 2011

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to car ownership. There’s servicing and maintenance, insurance costs, paying for tax and, of course, the MoT. Indeed, everything hangs on passing the MoT, because without it you can’t get a tax disc and you can’t go out on the road.

But it needn’t be the most horrible day of the year for you and your car. Obviously taking the car to a good, trustworthy garage is advised and you can find a reliable MoT centre local to you one in our good garage section.

You can do your own bit, though. If you know what to look out for you can do a few preliminary checks yourself and hopefully avoid the cost of a retest.

First of all, enlist someone's help and test all of the lights. If any of the bulbs are out it’s usually very easy to change them yourself and it will save you a few pounds. A rip-off garage will charge far too much for this, so it’s certainly worth doing.

The same goes for windscreen wipers - they must clear the screen. If they don’t then change them, it’s an easy, cheap job. It’s also important to ensure your screenwash is topped up.

Next, check the tread on your tyres. A simple way to test if the tread is within the legal limits is to take a 20p piece and place it into one of the tread grooves. If the rim of the 20p is visible then you’re going to need a new tyre. Make sure to test the tread all around each of the tyres.

The spare needs to be legal too, so test it. If it fails and you don’t want to pay for a replacement right away then take it out. You can’t fail for not having a spare, but you can for having one that’s bald.

Next, push down on each corner of the vehicle. It should settle after a couple of bounces, and if it doesn’t then it probably means a shock absorber needs replacing.

The brakes need to work, obviously. If the brake pedal feels spongy then topping up the brake fluid may fix the problem and is fairly simple.Be careful though, brake fluid is hazardous so follow the instructions on the container. Brake pads and discs should be checked, but if you’re unsure it’s best to leave that job to a garage.

The mirrors should be securely and correctly attached, so if you’ve got one duct-taped on then you’re best off replacing it. The windscreen needs to be free from large chips and cracks, and there should be no severe rusting or perforation to the bodywork. Ensure the horn works, often times it’s a part of the car a driver will rarely use, but it must function properly.

It’s also important that the car is clean, particularly underneath. If there’s too much dirt on the car then the MoT tester can refuse to carry out the test, so give it a quick wash.

Finally, make sure the car drives and behaves as you’d expect it to. If there’s anything obviously wrong with it then the chances are that it’ll fail, so don’t waste time taking it to the test unless you’re sure it’s as good as it can be.

Also, don’t worry too much if your MoT has expired – you can still drive your car to the MOT centre for a prebooked MoT providing it is taxed and insured.  

Next time the MoT is due, don’t panic. Prepare yourself and find a good, reliable garage and hopefully your car will pass without too much work.



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