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What does the MOT cover?


The MOT test is a general assessment of the state of your car. It’s all about making sure that vehicles on the road are safe, and come up to a minimum standard. However, it’s not just the safety critical things like the brakes which are examined during the MOT test, and to complicate matters further, the rules about what components are tested have changed regularly over the years.

MOT Testing the following elements are always tested in a MOT test: Exhaust pipes and emissions tests, seat belts (both front and rear), steering, windscreen and window wipers, catch on the bonnet, number plates, both front and rear horn lights – headlights, tail lights, indicators, hazard warning lights. Brakes, wheels and tyres – including the spare. Mirrors, doors, suspension, body and structure (inspecting for dangerous rust or other defects). Fuel system and seats.

Photo by Elliot Kwan on Unsplash

The full detail of the latest inspection guideline is a public document. Should you wish, you can download the entire inspection manual which applies to your type of vehicle from the government website. The manual has been written in plain English as far as possible, but you’ll still need a working knowledge of car mechanics to understand what it’s all about. The manual sets out the exact limits which can be accepted in each situation.

The mechanic performing the MOT test doesn’t really have any flexibility over whether a car passes or fails. If a component doesn’t meet the standards in the manual, it has to be marked down as a fail.


What’s not inspected

Remember that the MOT is all about whether your car is safe and roadworthy. It’s not about how efficiently the engine is running, and won’t tell you that it’s time to get it serviced.

The inspector won’t care if the car is dirty, or if it has kids’ toys all over the back seat. The MOT inspector won’t check whether the car is insured, or whether you’re the registered keeper. Passing and Failing If your car passes the MOT then the next steps are simple. The inspector goes online and enters the details of your test into the online DVLA database.

You will also get a simple certificate to show your car has passed. If, however it fails, there are two separate scenarios. If the reason for failure isn’t something which affects the road safety of the car, you can choose to drive it away and have it fixed elsewhere. This might be something like a headlight not working properly, or inefficient windscreen wipers. You could of course choose to allow the same garage to make the repairs, but you don’t have to. The decision will depend on your individual circumstances. If the fault is classed as “dangerous” in the MOT manual, then you won’t be able to leave the garage with your vehicle.

The only option is to leave it at the garage and have the dangerous fault fixed, then retested. Garages will usually be happy to talk you through your options for having things rectified.