Pre-Mot Checklist (Simple Checks To Help You Pass Your MOT)

27 Mar 2017 by Sam Bisby

A car can fail its MOT for any number of reasons. Numerous MOT checks are carried out during the test and your vehicle only has to fail one to fail its MOT.

So to maximise your car’s chances of passing first time, it’s worth following a simple pre-MOT checklist; simple checks you can do at home.

Spending just a few minutes carrying out some pre-MOT checks on the interior and exterior of your car could also save you the additional costs of unnecessary repairs, as well as the extra time lost.

To help with your pre-MOT inspection, we’ve created this handy list of areas of the car to check yourself. We’ve also included what things to look for as you work through your mot preparation checklist.

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Interior Checks

As you begin your pre-MOT checklist, a good place to start is the car’s interior. Of course, the majority of checks will be carried out on the car’s mechanics and exterior bodywork, yet there are still a number of key areas within your cabin.

Seats and seatbelts

Start your pre-MOT inspection by checking your car’s front seats. The driver’s seat should adjust forwards and backwards. Plus, all seatbelts should be the right length and in good working order. Pull sharply on each seatbelt, checking that they react as they’re supposed to if you have to suddenly brake.


Your horn needs to be loud enough to be heard by another road user, and emit a long singular tone. So give it a blast and check.

Hand Brake

It’s essential that your hand brake can safely hold the car stationary, especially on an incline. So test this yourself before the test.

Interior Warning Lights

Turn on your car and make sure all your dashboard lights are working as they should: It’s likely that a number of these will usually illuminate up when you start the car (hand brake, ABS, Airbag, etc) but then quickly go out before you begin driving. Also, double-check to make sure that none of the warning lights are lit.

Exterior Checks

Having completed your interior pre-MOT checks, you can now continue your MOT preparation by moving to the exterior of your car. It should come as no surprise to find that the majority of the MOT focuses on the exterior, concentrating on things such as your wheels and tyres, bodywork, brakes and steering, lights and more.

To help you avoid unwanted MOT surprises, we suggest you cover the following areas as part of your pre-MOT checklist:

Headlights and indicators

Double-check that your car’s lights all function properly. This includes the headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators.

Brake lights

While stationary, get a friend to stand in a safe place where they can see the back of your car. Press the brake pedal and ask your friend to check that the lights are all working.

Alternatively, carefully reverse up to a reflective window, wall or garage door and use your mirrors to look behind and see for yourself.

Number plate

Many cars fail the MOT test because of number plate issues. So check to make sure the number plates are clean and legible – wipe it with a cloth if unsure. Letter font and spacing must also comply with legal requirements, so double-check those too.

Wheels and tyres

Tyres are the single biggest cause of all MOT failures, yet are so simple to check yourself. First, check that wheels and tyres are undamaged. Remember, minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm – you can check this with a 20p coin if you don’t have a tyre tread depth gauge. Less than this and your car will be marked as an MOT fail.


Any chip or crack larger than 40mm will result in an MOT fail, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the area swept by your driver-side wiper.

Windscreen wipers

Your car’s wipers must clear water and keep your windscreen clean. Check for any tears or holes in the wiper rubber – this could be an MOT fail.


Something as minor as an empty screen-wash container can result in an MOT fail. So top up the washer bottle before the test; it only takes a minute.

Fuel and engine oil

Your car needs to have adequate oil and fuel levels for the tester to carry out the necessary emissions tests. Make sure your fluid levels are all topped up.

Boot, Bonnet & Doors

The boot, bonnet and doors all need to open and shut securely, so quickly test them all.


You can’t check the entire system, but you can make sure the power steering is working and your steering wheel lock works as it should.


Believe it or not, your car can fail its MOT for something as minor as a fuel cap that doesn’t close securely. So make sure yours locks properly and that the seal inside isn’t worn or split.


A noisy exhaust could be a sign that your system has a hole in it somewhere. An unusual rattling might also indicate that the exhaust is coming loose. Both these issues could result in a fail, so listen carefully for any of the warning signs.


The mirrors need to be in place and held securely. If a mirror is held on temporarily with tape you’ll need to have it fixed properly otherwise it’ll fail the MOT. The glass shouldn’t be cracked or smashed either.

Having completed your pre-MOT checklist and rectified and repaired any faults you may have found, your car will now be better prepared for its full MOT test inspection.

For the best service, remember to always choose a fully authorised and trustworthy MOT test provider. Every Stoneacre branch contains a fully DVSA approved MOT test centre with highly qualified MOT technicians ready to look after your car.

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