Although unwelcome, failing the MOT test at the first time of asking is far from uncommon. Overall, about 33% of all car, van and motorbike owners get just that bad news every year. Because of enhanced checks and restrictions brought in over the years, however, not all fails are the same. For 95% of owners, the step from fail to pass is very easy to make, and can usually be taken on the day of the test. Only 5% of failures are for faults which are classified as dangerous. With this in mind, it makes sense to carry out checks at home to avoid being part of the majority which fail for minor reasons.
MOT tests cover safety, roadworthiness and emissions. Modern vehicles come with a host of computerized sensors which automatically detect some or all of these factors. Excess emissions or aspects of a vehicle which are not responding properly (for example, an unfastened seat belt) will result in a warning light and / or aural message of some kind. Of course, the sensors themselves must be working; if not, this will result in a fail.
More traditional failures, however, are not always covered by sensors. The two most important aspects of cars, motorcycles and vans which cause the most failures are tyres and lights. It’s an unfortunate fact that many thousands of first time failures could be avoided if drivers and riders checked their tyre pressure and lights before heading to the MOT testing centre.
One easy trick is to take a 20 pence coin and measure the depth of the tread on your tyres; anything less than 1mm at any point will be obvious. As for lights; although you can check your bulbs, beams and aim yourself, brake lights require the assistance of another person. If you apply your brakes and the light doesn’t come on, this is an automatic fail.
Driver and rider checks
The MOT test will also look for controllability. It is essential that the driver or rider is able to control their vehicle at all times, which means you must be able to translate your wishes into action by your machine. Many car and van drivers, for example, are caught out by not checking the tension on their handbrakes. Too much leeway means that your brake may be liable to slip out of place; this is an easy thing to check and fix before your MOT.
For drivers of cars and vans, the windscreen must be clear and the driving area must be free of clutter, so that visibility is of a high level. For motorbike riders, the seat and footrests must be properly attached as per manufacturer’s specification, so that the correct purchase is possible when going into braking situations.
Book your MOT ASAP
Simple checks like the ones listed above will help you avoid the majority of first time MOT failures; anything more serious should be obvious. After carrying out these basic checks, don’t delay in booking your test. Autumn 2020 will be a time of high demand, so book your slot as soon as you can.