The test is split in to six main groups
Front and rear lamps etc, headlamps, headlamp aim, stop lamps, rear reflectors, direction indicators, hazard lamps, rear fog lights.
Steering and Suspension
Steering Control, steering mechanism/system, power steering, transmission shafts, wheel bearings, front suspension, rear suspension, shock absorbers.
Tyres and Wheels
Tyre size/type, tyre condition, road wheels.
ABS warning system/controls, condition of service brake system, condition of parking brake system, service brake performance, parking brake performance.
Mountings, condition, operation, position.
Drivers view of the road, horn, exhaust system, exhaust emissions, vehicle condition, mirrors, fuel system registration plates and VIN numbers.
The examination looks in detail at all of the above components. The tester is required to follow a procedure and with an assistant will examine the vehicle accordingly, noting and detailing any items that fail.
The test is not the same for all vehicles and certain types due to their age and design when produced, may have exemptions from some aspects of the test or a greater tolerance level or failure limit. This mainly applies to Classic and Vintage vehicles, however proof of first registration year and production may be required. If in doubt check with your local test station prior to an examination.
For private motor vehicles a valid test certificate is required on the third anniversary of its first registration. However, it is now possible to have a vehicle tested up to 30 days prior to this date and to have the expiry post-dated to the original registration day.
The test also applies to the following years tests, thus enabling owners to have time to rectify any failures which a test might find and to have a retest prior to the expiry date of the current certificate, without any loss of certificate length.
Should a vehicle not have a current MOT it must not be used on the public road. However, to ensure you are legal when re-presenting the vehicle for an MOT retake you must book an appointment and record your name and vehicle registration at a local test station, prior to driving the vehicle there.
Should the vehicle fail, you will be issued with a VT3O Certificate stating the items causing failure. Be sure you are clear as to what rectification is required for a pass to be issued. In certain cases expert or special services may be required regarding emissions or welding.
Current re-test conditions and fees involved will be posted at the MOT test centre.
Pre Test Checks
A vehicle that is in good condition, that has been regularly serviced and maintained to manufacturers specification, should be able to pass the test. However it must be remembered that items can deteriorate between services and tests.
The condition of corrosion is not easily checked and is best left to be examined during the test.
Items which can be easily checked by the owner or driver such as lights, windscreen washers, wipers, horn, mirrors, seatbelts, fuel and tyres (including pressures) should be done so regularly and just prior to the test. It can be very frustrating to receive a failure for one empty washer bottle, a torn wiper blade and stop lamp bulb not working, not least illegal.
Get someone to stand outside the car while all lights front, rear and hazard are checked. Replace or repair if broken or faulty.
Ensure that the number plates and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) plate is clean and legible.
Remember to check indicators.
Check suspension by applying your weight to each corner of the car then release. The car should settle down quickly.
Check the operation of footbrakes and handbrakes. Also check Anti Lock breaking systems (ABS) light operation if fitted.
Check that seatbelts operate correctly.
The examination of the tyres does not include the spare. A tyre depth of 1.6mm is the legal minimum requirement. Check tyres are inflated making sure they are not damaged. Whilst the spare tyre is not part of the test it is to be advised that a correctly inflated and legal tyre / wheel should be carried.
Check the driver’s view for damage to the windscreen. Testers will check that damage is no larger than 40mm in the whole of the swept area of the screen and that in the central view of the driver, called Zone A which is 290mm wide (within the swept area and centered on the steering wheel), any damage is no larger than 10mm wide.
To check the exhaust start the engine and from the rear of the vehicle listen for excessive noise which could indicate an exhaust leak. Emission checks are an important part of the test. Regular servicing should alleviate problems with emissions.
Check under the bonnet to ensure that the brake fluid reservoir, windscreen washer bottle and engine oil reserves are topped up correctly.
A general check around the vehicle should be made to ensure that the car’s fuel cap is secure, mirrors are in good condition, wipers are not damaged, or split and locks work.