Aveley Garage & M.O.T. Centre

How to Avoid MOT Failure

In accordance with the law, every car over three years old in the UK is subject to a yearly MOT test. An MOT certificate is actually required to be able to drive throughout the UK. But what is the deal with annual MOT tests?

If you’re a car owner, you have to leave your vehicle every year at a test centre or a garage, and then sit, wait, and hope it doesn’t need big repairs. MOT tests, in other words, aren’t really something to look forward to. Even for many car owners, the MOT test process may not be on their top to-do list.

The truth is, car servicing is very important when it comes to driving a car safely. We have talked about it previously in another post. In this guide, we’ll provide a quick explainer of MOT tests and what they are for. We’ll also include the common faults and problems to watch out for to help you prepare for the test.

MOT: What is it for?

MOT is an acronym for the Ministry of Transport. This was the government department responsible for the roads when the first MOT test was introduced in 1960. At that time, the MOT test was only required for cars over ten years old.

Since then, the list of pre-MOT checks has been expanded. MOT tests are conducted to annually check the safety, roadworthiness, and exhaust emissions of vehicles including small motorcycles to the biggest lorries. This is to help prevent motorists from driving vehicles that have a potentially dangerous fault.

Recent Updates on MOT Rules

The government introduced new measures for MOT tests in May 2018. By the end of that year, more than one million cars were labelled dangerous. This is to say that the tests are getting tougher every year.

The standard test includes a range of checks on various parts of a vehicle. This is to make sure that it meets the minimum standards set by the Driving and Vehicle Standards Authority. First off, the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is inspected to see if it is present and legible. The registration or number plate should also be secure, legible, and in the correct format.

The following parts are inspected:
⦁ Bodywork
⦁ Brakes
⦁ Doors
⦁ Emissions
⦁ Fuel system
⦁ Horn
⦁ Lights
⦁ Mirrors
⦁ Seats
⦁ Seatbelts
⦁ Tyres
⦁ Steering and suspension
⦁ Windscreen
⦁ Wipers and washer bottle

If your vehicle fails the MOT test, you might not be able to drive away until it is fixed. You also might have to pay more for repairs. The fees usually vary. If your vehicle is left at the test centre for repair and retested within 10 working days, there’s no fee.

The 4 Most Common MOT Fails

Many vehicles fail an MOT test for various reasons. You would be surprised to know that even relatively minor issues (which could easily be prevented before the test) can cause MOT fails. That is why it’s imperative to prepare an MOT checklist before the date of inspection to ensure that the vehicle is in the best possible condition.

Here are the most common MOT fails and what you can do to avoid them:

Lighting and signalling

About 18.9% of vehicles, which fail their MOT, have issues with their lighting and signalling. This could be something as simple as a blown bulb.

What You Can Do

You can do a simple test yourself. Simply switch all your lights on and walk around your car to see if the lights are working.

Also, check if the indicators flash as they should. The number plate light should be working, too. Don’t forget to check the condition of the lights. Are the plastic lenses looking misty?

You might not notice it, but plastic lenses get misty over time. You can buy a kit to clean your lights ahead of the MOT.

Finally, look out for any cracks in your lights. You can ask a family member, friend, or neighbour to stand behind your vehicle to check the brake lights if they light up as you press the brake pedal.


Another reason why vehicles fail their MOT is that they have issues with suspension components. An estimated 13% of vehicles that failed their MOT in the first quarter of 2017 had suspension issues.

What You Can Do

Data shows that thousands of car breakdowns occur as a result of driving into potholes. During your daily drives, you have to pay attention to the noises made by your car, especially when you’re passing over bumpy roads. Check if there are any unusual clunks, too.

If there are, park your car up and spend a few seconds to inspect it. Check to see if it sits level, or if it is too high or too low particularly in one corner. Push it down on each corner and see if it returns back to its normal level (without bouncing up and down a few times) when you let go.


There’s no need to explain how important brakes are. Unfortunately, 10% of vehicles that fail their MOT have issues with their braking system. While 10% is not exactly a big number, it is still a worrying amount, especially since this brake fault is so obvious and can be easily remedied with professional car servicing.

What You Can Do

Before your vehicle’s MOT test, check if you hear grinding or squealing noises from your brakes. These noises could mean that the pads are running low and that brake replacements are needed. Also, check to see if your vehicle pulls to one side or stops in a straight line when braking.

Don’t forget to inspect the brake discs and pads. You might be able to look through the spokes or you might have to remove the wheel to do this. Does the surface of the brake disc look smooth? Are the brake pads still thick?

Many vehicles also fail because of issues with their handbrakes. If you stop your vehicle on a hill and apply the handbrake, check if it holds the vehicle. If it doesn’t, you might need to adjust the handbrake.


Your vehicle can have all the safety systems in the world and operate smoothly down the road. However, if the four circular bits of rubber connecting it to the road are not up to scratch, then you could have road accidents on your hands. It’s imperative to check your tyres regularly, not just when it’s time to get an MOT test done.

Speaking of MOT tests, tyre issues account for 7.7% of vehicles failing their annual test. This makes it the fourth most common reason behind MOT fails.

What You Can Do

First, let’s talk about how the law states that tyres need 1.6mm of tread across the central three quarters and how you can use a 20p coin to check a vehicle’s tread. So, insert a 20p coin. If you can see the outer band, it means that the tread is too low. You could be fined up to £2,500 for this. Also, you could get hit with three penalty points per tyre.

It’s not enough to rely on the tread you can see. You also have to feel inside the tyre. If you feel something like uneven wear, this could be indicative of poor inflation or issues with alignment. Look out for any lumps or cuts when checking the tyres. These lumps or cuts should be fixed immediately as they could cause a dangerous blowout.

Are the correct tyres fitted to your car? Make sure that they match sizes across each axle. They should also have a suitable speed rating.

Other Pre-MOT Checks to Consider

So, we’ve touched on the most common MOT fails. This time, let’s go over all the other things you can do to give your vehicle the best chance of passing its MOT test.

⦁ Keep the vehicle clean inside and out. An examiner may refuse to carry out the MOT if a boot is full of clutter. Excessively dirty vehicles rarely pass their MOT test.
⦁ Clean the number plates and ensure they are readable.
⦁ Make sure the windscreen wipers are in good condition.
⦁ Don’t forget to top up all fluid levels, e.g., brake fluid, oil, and screenwash.
⦁ Inspect if the horn works.
⦁ Check if the mirrors are intact and secure. You have to make sure you can use them safely.
⦁ Check if the vehicle identification number (VIN) in your vehicle’s V5C logbook matches with what is marked on the bodywork.


In case you didn’t know, sharp edges on the bodywork (whether caused by accident damage or corrosion) are not permitted as they could injure pedestrians. Older cars generally have more issues with rust. Excessive corrosion on the steering and brakes may result in a fail. The same is true if there is rust within 30cm of these components.

Doors and Opening

Make sure that the doors can be opened from the inside and outside the car. Also, check if all the openings can be shut securely, including the bonnet and tailgate.


Testers will also check if the horn works and is loud enough to be audible to other vehicles. If your vehicle has novelty car horns that play multiple notes or tunes, be informed that they are not allowed. You may have to call for vehicle servicing to fix the horn.

Exhaust and Emissions

During an MOT test, testers will use specialist equipment connected to a vehicle’s exhaust to check emissions. The exhaust system and fuel filler cap should be fixed securely to prevent possible leaks. This applies to all fuel-powered vehicles.

If there is visible smoke from the tailpipe, a vehicle may fail its MOT test. Note that there is a varying legal limit on emissions, depending on the age of the vehicle. Newer cars are subject to much stricter standards.

Seats/ Seatbelts

Make sure that the seats are securely fixed. For all post-1965 cars, seatbelts are a legal requirement. Seatbelts are also strongly advisable on those built earlier, regardless of make and model. Belts also need to be securely fixed, with their clip/locking mechanism in good condition. For vehicles with inertia-reel belts, the belts should retract properly to fit around the driver.


You may need to call for vehicle servicing to fix steering faults. During the MOT test, the tester will inspect the steering wheel and column if they are in good condition and fixed properly. There should be no excessive free play in the system, otherwise, the vehicle gets an instant MOT fail.

The tester will inspect the steering bearings, bolts, clamps, gaiters, and universal joints for wear. With the engine running, the tester will also check the operation of power steering. (This is fitted to all modern cars.)

Tow Bar

Does your car have a tow bar fitted for pulling a caravan or trailer? The tester will also check if it is secure and not damaged or corroded.

Where to Get MOT Done

You have several options to get your vehicle’s MOT test done. You can look up places online and in directories. It’s always recommended to go to a place you trust.

You can also find a reputable garage that has been recommended to you.

Average Cost of MOT

The cost of MOT fluctuates depending on the type of vehicle, but the standard rule of thumb is that the larger the vehicle, the higher the fee. For cars with up to eight passenger seat, the maximum MOT fee is £54.85. For motorcycles, the amount you pay for an MOT is £29.65 on average.

What Happens After MOT?

Three things can happen once your vehicle’s MOT test is done. Firstly, your vehicle may pass without any advisories. Secondly, your vehicle may pass its MOT but with so-called minor faults, which means there are still things to consider after getting a clean bill of health for your vehicle.

These minor faults are issues with the vehicles that have not been deemed serious enough for it to fail its MOT, but still, they need professional car servicing. If they’re ignored, there’s a chance that they will lead to bigger problems in the near future.

The third thing that can happen is that your vehicle passes its MOT with flying colours (granted that it has no repair issues).

Ready to Get Your Vehicle’s MOT Done?

To get your vehicle’s MOT done, turn to Aveley Garage and MOT Centre today. We are a local business offering vehicle servicing and MOT within a 15-mile radius of RM15 4BP.

You don’t have to come to us; we will be there to pick up your vehicle. Get in touch with us for enquiries on our pick-up and drop-off service.


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