Simple checks reduce MOT failure chances

The IAM is providing advice to motorists on performing a few basic checks on their cars before submitting them for MOT testing and thereby reducing the chance of failure.

The annual MOT test to assess the roadworthiness of vehicles in the UK that are more than three years old is often a stressful experience for owners with the chances of failure being largely unknown and the associated expense difficult to budget for without knowing the extent of any likely failure.

However, according to the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM), there are ways that this level of stress can be reduced with a bit of simple preparation. With many owners making no preparations whatsoever, there are some clear opportunities for saving time and money, especially since statistics show that many of the failures are due to such basic itmes as tyres, windscreen wipers, lights and fluid levels, all of which are checkable by the owner.

According to the IAM’s director of standards, Mark Lewis, the checks are simple and it’s best to start from the exterior of the car, giving it a wash to help highlight any faults, especially to the wheels and tyres.

The tyres should have no damage and there should be a tread depth of at least 1.6mm around the entire circumference of each tyre across at least 75% of the width. In practice, to avoid a failure, the tyres should not be allowed to go to the minimum legal level but instead have some leeway above that threshold.

With a clean windscreen, it should be clear if there are any cracks that impinge on the area of the screen swept by the wipers. Whilst looking at the screen, check the windscreen wipers operate correctly and that they’re not damaged. It is worth cleaning the wiper blades to make sure they don’t smudge or smear the screen. If a rear wiper is fitted, it isn’t subject to scrutiny at the MOT so the car can’t fail the test if this isn’t working. However, it’s still a good idea to make sure it works and that the washer is also topped up. Similarly, the front windscreen washer bottle must be topped up and the nozzles aimed correctly at the screen so that they’re effective.

Generally, check the fluid levels under the bonnet and also look under the car to see if there are any leaks. Shock absorbers are often prone to leakage when they’re worn and this will lead to an MOT failure so check these if you’re able.

All the lights around the car should work correctly with no bulbs blown, the handbrake should work correctly and the horn should work. Additionally, check the seat belts that they’re not worn or frayed and check their operation that they can be pulled all the way out and they retract fully.

By going through this simple set of checks, potential failures can be spotted early and rectified before submitting the car for the test. Mark Lewis said, “These basic checks will help make your chances of passing an MOT much greater. So many fails are as a result of these issues.”

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