Pass Your MOT First Time

A close up photo of the MOT test symbol at Just MOTs of Milton Keynes

Save Time - Check the Basics

Several parts of the MOT test require specialist equipment, skills or facilities which put them beyond the ability of the average driver. Others parts are simple to check but require crawling about on your hands and knees and getting generally mucky and sweaty. However, many parts of the test are so simple that anyone can do them and it makes a lot of sense to check them yourself before you present your vehicle for its test.


This simple guide only covers MOT items that anyone should be able to check. The full test covers many more items that are beyond the abilities (or desire to check) of the average driver. If your vehicle passes all of these checks it is no guareentee that it will pass the test itself.

For most of the items included if any one item fails then there is a good chance that the fix is cheap, quick and easy. For instance Halfords offer a while you wait bulb fitting service and it doesn't cost very much. Many vehicle parts suppliers will fit things like wiper blades for free if you ask.

Why Bother When the MOT Testing Station Will Check Anyway?

If you do these simple checks then you will ensure you don't waste your own time presenting a vehicle with faults that will cause it to fail and then having the inconvenience of running around getting things fixed before the free retest window expires.

MOT Checks Performed from Inside the Vehicle

First of all start of inside the vehicle. You don't need anyone to help you with these checks and to do them all should only take about 5 minutes. Primarily we are checking that things work as expected in a safe and predictable fashion so as not to distract the driver with faulty or unexpected operation. The main obvious safety item in the vehicle is of course the seat belts. Make sure you check them thouroughly.

Switches, Lights and Instruments

  • Check the rear fog light indicator is illuminated when the fog lights are switched on
  • Check the direction indicator switch/switches are secure, operates correctly and the interior indicator is functioning
  • Check the tell tale indicator for the hazard warning lights works with ignition both off and on
  • Check the speedometer can be illuminated and that the glass or plastic covering it is not broken or missing

Seat Belts

  • Make sure the seatbelt webbing is not frayed or cut or deteriorating in anyway
  • With the seatbelt locked make sure each seatbelt retracts any excess webbing into the retracting unit
  • With the seatbelt locked make sure the lock does not release while pulling on the belt
  • With the seatbelt locked make sure the lock DOES release while pulling on the belt when the mechanism is operated

Seats and Doors

  • Make sure the passenger and driver doors can be opened from both inside the vehicle
  • Check that all seats are secure, that the backs can be secured in the upright position and the fore/aft adjustment is functioning correctly

Windscreen, Wipers and Washers

  • Make sure there are no obstructions to the driver view such as satnavs, mascots, stickers etc...
  • Make sure the wipers work and continue to operate once switched on
  • Make sure the washers provide enough liquid to clear the windscreen


  • Sound the horn and ensure it is load enough and has two tones
  • Make sure the parking brake is secure (ie: not loose or damaged - We are not checking if it holds the car at this point)
  • Check that any anti-slip provision on the brake pedal is not missing, incomplete, loose or worn smooth
  • Make sure the rear view mirror is secure and not damaged, obscured or deteriorated so as to impair the rear view

MOT Checks Performed Outside the Vehicle

Now we move to the outside of the vehicle. Again, all the checks should only take about 5 minutes and you can do them all yourself. In the main we are making sure that the vehicle can be seen (lights), other road users know what you are doing (lights again) and making sure the handling of the vehicle is as it should be (wheels and tyres).

Physical Condition of Body, Lights, Lamps and Indicators

  • Check that there are no sharp edges or projections from the body caused by corrosion or damage
  • Ensure that all reflectors, lights, lamps and indicator fittings are clean, secure, undamaged and have lenses/bulbs of the correct colour and are not obscured by anything

Operational Condition of Lights, Lamps and Indicators

  • Ensure that all lights lamps and indicators operate as intended
  • Check that the stop lights  emit a steady red light.
  • Make sure the rear registration plate lamps are not showing any white light to the rear of the vehicle
  • Check that the indicator lamps flash at the normal rate
  • Check that all indicator lamps flash simultaneously when the hazard warning switch is activated and that they flash with ignition both off and on
  • Ensure that the headlights emit light of the same colour

Tyres and Wheels

  •     Check the outside of each tyre for any cuts, lumps, bulges or any of its interior ply/cord being exposed
  •     Check the grooves of the tread pattern are at least 1.6mm deep across the central 3/4 of the width of the entire circumference of the tyre
  •     See that all road wheels are free from cracks, damage and distortion

Seats and Doors

  •     Make sure all doors latch securely when closed
  •     Make sure the passenger and driver doors can be opened from outside the vehicle
  •     Make sure any other doors can be opened from outside the vehicle

Registration Plates

  • Check you have a registration plate front and rear, both are secure, all letters/numbers are present and they are clean and unobscured by dirt
  • Be sure that the number plates use the official lettering and not any 'fancy' fonts


  • Check that there is no damage greater than 10mm in diameter in a band 290mm wide centered on the steering wheel (light scratches are not considered damage)
  • Check that there is no damage greater than 40mm in diameter in the area of the windscreen swept by the wipers


  • Ensure that the wiper blades are secure and clean the window effectively so as to give the driver an adequate view of the road and to both the left and right sides of the vehicle
  • Check that the bonnet is secured in the closed position

Additional MOT Checks If You Have An Assistant

Lastly we have a few checks that ideally you need someone to help you with as you will need to be in the vehicle to operate the switches but outside to observe the effects. You may be able to manage if you can find something reflective to park near but it will still be more hassle than asking a neighbour or colleague to help out for a couple of minutes which is all it should take.

Lights, Lamps and Indicators

  • Apply the brake pedal and check that both stop lights are working and emit a steady red light.
  • Apply the brake pedal and then operate the indicators and other lights and make sure the stop lights do not alter their brightness in any way.
  • Operate the headlights and then the indicators and other lights. Make sure the headlights lights do not alter their brightness in any way.