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Old 06-03-2009, 14:14   #1 (permalink)
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Car Owners' Guide to an MOT

Now With Added Videos!

Test Description

View Video Clips
External Checks Under Vehicle Checks

Inside the car checks

Steering wheel and steering column:

* steering wheel is in acceptable condition
* steering wheel is securely attached to the steering shaft
* upper bearings of the steering column are inspected for wear
* Steering shaft is checked for excessive end float
* The clamping bolts are all checked for security
* split pins and locking nuts are also checked.
* 'free play' in the steering is checked
* All flexible couplings and universal joints are checked.

Under bonnet checks

This varies vehicle to vehicle; some of these items cannot be observed from under the bonnet on some makes and models.

* security of the steering rack or steering box and its mountings
* play in steering joints
* Inspection of any other swivel joints which form part of the vehicles' steering system which can be readily inspected from under the bonnet.

Under vehicle checks:

* All the steering joints are inspected by the Tester whilst the steering is loaded by turning the steering wheel from side to side.
* Power steering systems are checked with the engine running
* The security of attachment of the steering rack or steering box is checked both with respect to the tightness of nuts and bolts, and structural cracking or corrosion of the vehicle chassis where it is attached
* Whilst the vehicle stands on special swivel plates the wheels are turned from lock to lock and checked to ensure that the wheels and tyres do not foul either the structure of the vehicle or any brake pipes or hoses
* with the wheels jacked the wheel bearings are checked
* steering rack gaiters and front outer constant velocity joint boots are examined
* metal and/or rubber bushes are checked as are split pins, locking nuts and other locking or retaining devices which relate to steering components.


* operation
* control can be easily reached by the driver
* loud enough
* not a sequential multi-tone


View Video clips:
Headlamp Check

The headlamps are checked for alignment with a Beam Setter. After first aligning the equipment with the vehicle, the left and right headlamp beams are checked to ensure they are correctly set so as not to dazzle other road users.

Test Description

All required lights are checked for:

* operation
* condition
* security

Side lights and headlamps

* are the correct type and colour
* dip and aim.

Stop lights, indicators and hazard lights*

* are the correct type and colour
* do not interfere with each other in operation
* driver's tell-tale works with respect to indicators, or there is an audible warning system.

Rear Fog lamps**

* must be fitted to the centre or offside of the vehicle
* tell-tale must work
* must not be affected by other lamps and not be obscured
* must be red.

Number plate lamps

* All lamps fitted must be working.

Rear reflectors

* There must be two red reflectors fitted reasonably symmetrically, securely attached and not obscured.

Bonnet Catch
Reasons for Failure

* A bonnet that cannot be safely secured in the closed position
* An excessively deteriorated, ineffective or insecure (bonnet) retaining device


Test Description

* Both front doors must be openable from the inside and outside and all doors must latch securely.

Tailgates, bootlids etc.

* All these items, including the tailboards and dropsides of trucks must be securable in the closed position

Vehicle structure

View Video clips:
General check

Test Description

Body condition and security

* body must not be so insecure or displaced so that it might lead to loss of control of the vehicle when driven, or be a danger to other road users
* there must be no dangerous sharp edges or projections caused by corrosion or damage which is dangerous to other road users including pedestrians.


A vehicle can fail with respect to corrosion for:

* excessive corrosion in a 'prescribed area' within 30 cms of certain safety related components, e.g. brakes, steering, suspension, seat belt mountings etc.
* excessive corrosion not in a 'prescribed area', but which is likely to adversely affect the vehicle's braking or steering. 'Excessive corrosion' can mean a hole or a significantly weakened structure.


* the driver's and the front passenger's seats must be secure
* all seat backs must be securable in the upright position.


View Video clips:
Front Brakes

Rear Brakes

Under Vehicle

Handbrake Under- vehicle

Under Bonnet

Brake efficiency and balance is usually checked on a roller brake tester.

Test Description

Inside the car

Anti-lock braking system (if fitted) warning lamp is checked for:

* function
* sequence of operation


* sufficient reserve travel on the footbrake
* pedal rubber not worn to excess
* correct operation of the servo assistance system

Parking brake

This could be hand or foot operated. Checked for reserve travel so that it doesn't reach the stops on application. The mountings will be checked for security and/or corrosion.

Under bonnet checks

* master cylinder and servo unit are checked for leaks with the engine on and the brakes applied
* servo unit will be checked to ensure it is operating correctly
* visible metal or flexible brake pipes will be checked for corrosion, condition, fouling or leaks

Under vehicle checks

* flexible brake pipes and any other metal brake pipes visible beneath the car are checked
* discs and drums (external only) checked for condition and contamination
* brake back plates and caliper securing devices are checked for condition and security
* condition of the brake pads will be checked if visible
* The assistant operates the handbrake and the condition of the linkages and/or cables is checked.
* on some vehicles there will be a brake compensating valve beneath the car which will need to be inspected for fluid leaks

Brake performance check

The performance of the front and rear brakes and handbrake are checked for efficiency and balance using specialised equipment.


Includes all items affecting the driver's view of the road: the condition of the windscreen, the wipers and washers.

Chips or cracks in the windscreen directly in front of the driver, in the area swept by the wiper blades, are acceptable if they are less than 10mm in diameter. In the rest of the swept area, up to 40mm diameter damage is acceptable.

Official stickers (any used in connection with road enforcement, security or crime prevention matters) that are not readily removable are only a reason for rejection if they restrict the driver's view.

Washers and wipers

* operation
* extent of area swept by the wipers
* condition of the wiper blades.


Not all mirrors on all vehicles are subject to Test, depending on the age of the vehicle. Those mirrors which must be checked must be

* secure
* visible from the driver's seat
* not distorted or damaged so as to seriously impair the driver's view to the rear.

Last edited by Shafz; 06-03-2009 at 14:24.
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Old 06-03-2009, 14:23   #2 (permalink)
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View Video clips:

On Ground

Video Jacked

Jacked Rear

Test Description

Under bonnet checks

* upper suspension joints
* any other suspension components which can be inspected from beneath the bonnet

Under vehicle checks

Applies to the front and rear suspension

* no split pins or nuts missing, no components broken or excessively damaged
* road springs are checked for condition
* all suspension joints are checked for condition
* shock absorbers must not leak and must be secure (the vehicle will be 'bounced' by the Tester to check that they damp the springs adequately).

The suspension is checked for wear by the assistant applying loads in various ways with the wheels jacked up whilst the Tester observes the result from beneath the vehicle.

Note: There are numerous different suspension systems, and the specific nature of any examination will depend to a large extent on the design of the suspension system.

Seat belts

Video clips:

Test Description

Most vehicles after 1965 must have seat belts. Irrespective of that requirement, all seat belts fitted to any vehicle must be inspected for:

* security of seat belt mountings and locking stalks
* security and operation of the locking/release mechanism
* condition of webbing
* retraction of the belt (it is allowed to manually feed it in).

Notes: 1. For technical reasons the inertia locking mechanism is not checked. 2. On some vehicles the belt is attached to the seat, in which case the security of the seat to the vehicle would also constitute part of the seat belt check.

Exhaust system

Video clips:
Under Vehicle

Test Description

The exhaust system will fail the MOT if:

* Part of the system missing or excessively deteriorated
* A mounting is missing or damaged so it does not support the system
* There is a major leak
* The system is excessively noisy.


View Video clips:
Petrol Emissions Test

Diesel Smoke Test1

Diesel Smoke Test2

These are checked using specialised equipment, the details of the check depending on the year that the vehicle was first used on the road. Excessive smoking (checked visually) is a reason for failure.

Diesel smoke emissions are checked by using a smoke meter.

Fuel system

Any fuel leak will result in a fail. Checked under the bonnet and throughout the run of the fuel line from the fuel tank to the engine.

* fuel filler cap must fasten securely
* the seal in the cap must not be torn, deteriorated or missing
* no other defect which could cause fuel to leak out.

Tyres and roadwheels

View Video clips:

On Ground

Jacked front

Jacked Rear

Test Description

Tyre condition

The reason for failure with respect to tyre wear is:

"The grooves of the tread pattern are not at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising: the central three-quarters of the breadth of tread around the entire outer circumference of the tyre".

Tyres must be correctly matched with regard to:

* type
* size
* structure

NB. type or structure but not both.
* tyres on the same axle must be of the same structure and size.

Also examined:

* general condition of tyre
* condition of valve.

Tyres fail if they have serious cuts, bulges or other damage.

The wear on the tyre is checked with a tyre tread depth gauge to ensure compliance.

The tyres are examined to ensure that there is no fouling with any part of the vehicle.

Notes: Although under-inflation is not in itself a reason for failure, a brake test may be inadvisable because of possible damage, and it may affect headlamp alignment. The condition of the spare tyre is not part of the MOT.

Wheel condition

* damage
* distortion
* cracks
* distorted bead rim
* securely attached to the vehicle
* no wheel nuts or studs missing.

An externally fitted spare wheel or spare wheel carrier must not be so insecure that it is likely to fall off.
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