Ensure your used car passes its MOT first time

What you should check before your car has its MOT

The MOT test always causes a little bit of concern in drivers, even if they’re reasonably sure their car is safe. A failed MOT can be a hassle, particularly if it means your vehicle is off the road for a few days while repairs are being carried out. So what can fail an MOT? We take a look at the key things to check before your used car goes in for its test.

The registration

The first thing on your MOT checklist should be a clean and legible number plate. Give both the front and rear plates a wipe and ensure – if you have a personalised plate – that the characters comply with legal requirements.


Next, check the lights and indicators to ensure they’re all working properly. Look out for any flickering and, if a new bulb is necessary, get it replaced before the test.


The MOT test requirements are designed to ensure cars are safe and roadworthy. Having adequate grip on your tyres is therefore a must. The minimum legal tread depth is 1.6mm around the central ¾ of the tyre, but it’s recommended that you don’t let it get below 3mm. This is especially important in winter, when the roads are likely to be slippery.

Check that the tread depth is sufficient by inserting a 20p coin into the groove. If you can see the outer band of the coin then the tyre needs replacing.


Ensuring the windscreen, wipers and screen wash are all functional is an important part of your pre-MOT checklist. Check for cracks or chips in the windscreen – if they are on the driver’s side it’s best to get them fixed before the test. Wipers should be working and preferably not leave smears over the glass.

Check that the screen wash is topped up and that the jets aren’t blocked as either of these things can cause a fail.

Seatbelts and horn

Seatbelts should be individually inspected for cuts or fraying. They should also clip and unclip smoothly, retract properly and lock when tugged. Give the horn a quick blast too, as this will be tested on the day.

Fuel and engine oil

Last on your MOT checklist should be a trip to the petrol station to top up on fuel and, if necessary, engine oil. The tester will need to check exhaust emissions during the MOT, so there will need to be enough fuel and oil to do so. Remember to let your engine cool down before checking and topping up on oil.

Book your MOT

The experienced technicians at our Carwise dealerships in MaidstoneandHarlow can carry out your next MOT and advise on any issues that need to be addressed. To book your vehicle in, or for information on used car servicing and repairs, contact us today.