If your MOT is coming up, you suddenly find yourself noticing every strange squeak and bump that your car makes. All the advice columns say that you should read through the checklist and sort out any faults that your car has – but what if you are not a mechanic and have little idea of what lies under the hood?
Having a proper MOT while driving in UK areas is mandatory, it doesn’t matter whether you are driving in London or even Yorkshire, you have to have a proper MOT certificate to avoid heavy fines by officials.
Here are some tips on how to realistically prepare your car for an MOT test.
Clean It Up
Almost every one of the six sections on the MOT checklist has a final notation of 'check general condition'. This means that the MOT inspector will look closely at the vehicle structure, whether under the hood, the chassis or the exterior of the car, looking for signs of impending failure or accidental damage. They will also look for signs of excessive wear and tear. As well as this, your MOT inspector has every right to refuse to proceed with the test, should the interior of your car be dirty or cluttered. Give it a valet in the week before the test and remove anything that doesn't absolutely have to be in the car, so the inspector will feel confident and happy sitting behind your steering wheel for the interior checks. It should go without saying that your windows and windscreens should be clean and clear from chips, cracks and other damage.
There are a surprising number of lights in a vehicle so it will come as no surprise that the most common MOT fail is filed under the grouping of 'lights'. Each light should have the correct wattage and size bulb fitted, pairs of lights should ignite evenly, and your headlights should be perfectly positioned for maximum illumination with minimal disruption to other road users. Dashboard lights should be working properly, but not glowing at the time of the test – if you are worried that you might be running low on oil, don't take a chance – top it up before the test to be sure that the warning light will not betray by igniting as soon as you have handed over your car keys!
Steering, Horn, Switches and Levers
Your steering should have minimal play when the car is not being driven, and your horn should respond well to a firm push, so the inspector knows that you are able to alert others in the event that you are having difficulties. The various switches, buttons and levers on the dashboard should all be present, in good condition and work as advertised to light the indicators, to flash your hazards, and so on. Spend a moment with a friend going through all your dashboard functions and making sure they are up to standard. Once you are happy with your vehicle, Reg Greenwood offers MOT in Featherstone – you can book them online.
As part of the 'general condition checks' the MOT inspector will have a good look at your numberplate. Not only should this be firmly fixed in place, but it should be clearly legible – by which is meant, readable by ANPR scanners as well as law enforcement officers – and it should be in a legal font if it is a vanity plate. The DVLA, the motoring authority, has a web page devoted to this information, and checking it out, before choosing that lovely curly font and incurring a fine and the removal of your plates, is an excellent idea for those who do not want to lose their hefty vanity plate registration fee.