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MOT Test Checklist

The MOT is effectively the examination of a motor vehicle's safety-related systems components to ensure that they have not worn to an excessive level which would otherwise render the vehicle unsafe for use on the road.

It is possible for items to pass the MOT inspection and yet still be regarded as past their service life at a routine service. Fortunately garages which do have a current MOT Testing permit and the necessary specialised training will not judge normal wear of a component as being an MOT 'failure', whereas a less experienced servicing mechanic would not appreciate the distinction.

By utilising the services of an MOT Testing Centre you are likely to save time and money and reduce the risk of Appeals to the Vehicle Inspectorate where you car may have been failed on the wrong grounds.

If your vehicle fails its MOT it may qualify for a FREE re-test. Click here to find out what qualifies a FREE retest.


Inside the car

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

  • Function
  • Sequence of operation. Footbrake
  • Reserve travel on the footbrake so that it does not go down to the floor
  • Pedal rubber not worn to excess
  • Correct operation of the servo assistance system.

Reserve brake
This could be a handbrake or a footbrake. Checked for reserve travel so that it does not 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 fluid 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, breakages or leaks.

Under Vehicle checks
With an assistant applying load to the footbrake:

  • Flexible brake pipes and any other metal brake pipes visible beneath the car are checked
  • Disks and drums checked for condition and contamination
  • Brake back plates and calliper securing devices are checked for condition and security
  • Condition of the brake pads will be checked if visible
  • An assistant operates the handbrake while 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 will be checked for efficiency and balance using specialised equipment.


Both front doors must be capable of being opened 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 capable of being secured in the closed position.


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 is a reason for failure. Diesel emissions are checked by using a smoke meter.


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.

  • The fuel filler cap must fasten securely
  • The seal in the cap must not be torn, deteriorated or missing
  • No other defect should be present which could cause fuel to leak out.


  • Operation.
  • Control should be easily reached by the driver.
  • Volume must be sufficiently audible to pedestrians and other vehicles.
  • The tone should not consist of a sequential multi-tone.


All required lights are checked for:

  • Operation.
  • Condition.
  • Security.

Side lights and headlamps:

  • Acceptable make/model.
  • Dip and aim must be within specified perameters Stop lights, indicators and hazard lights*
  • Acceptable make/model
  • Lights,indicators and hazard lights must not interfere with each other whilst in operation.
  • Indicators, stop lights and hazard warning lights function. 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 original lamps must be fitted and working.

Rear reflectors
There must be two reflectors fitted reasonably symmetrically, securely attached and not obscured.
* Must be fitted to all vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1986, but if fitted, must be tested.
** Must be fitted to all vehicles first used on or after 1st April 1980.

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 drivers seat
  • Not distorted or damaged so as to seriously impair the drivers view to the rear.

REGISTRATION PLATES AND VIN* (Vehicle Identification Number)

For registered vehicles the plate must be:

  • Present
  • Secure
  • Not faded, dirty or obscured
  • Be composed with correctly formed letters and spacing

The VIN number must be

  • Permanently displayed
  • Consistent and legible.

* Required on all vehicles first used on or after 1st August 1980.


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 permissable to manually feed it in).

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.


  • The driver's and the front passenger's seats must be secure
  • All seat backs must be securable in the upright position.


Inside the car checks

  • Steering wheel and steering column:
  • Steering wheel condition
  • The steering wheel must be securely attached to the steering shaft
  • The upper bearings of the steering column are inspected for wear
  • The steering shaft is checked for excessive end float
  • Clamping bolts security
  • The split pins and locking nuts
  • The 'free play' in the steering
  • Flexible couplings and universal joints.

Under the bonnet checks
Vary according to the vehicle;
Some of these items cannot be observed from under the bonnet on some makes and models. However in all cases checks will be made for:

  • The security of the steering rack or steering box and its mountings
  • Any discernible play in the steering joints
  • Swivel joints which form part of the steering system which can be readily inspected from under the bonnet will obviously be inspected.
  • Whilst the vehicle stands on special Swivel plates the wheels are turned from lock to lock and checked to ensure that wheels and tyres do not foul of either the structure of the vehicle or any brake pipes or hoses.
  • Wheel bearings are checked.
  • Steering rack gaiters/front outer constant velocity joint boots are examined.
  • Metal and rubber bushes are checked.

Under vehicle checks

  • All the steering joints.
  • Power steering systems.
  • Security of attachment of the steering rack or steering box is checked both with respect to tightness of the nuts and bolts, and structural cracking or corrosion of the vehicle chassis where it is attached.
  • Also, split pins/locking nuts and other locking or retaining devices relate to steering components. Some cars have an element of rear wheel steering which is checked from beneath the car. The front suspension is checked, but also the rear for:
  • Excessive wear to Wheel bearings.
  • Condition of front drive shafts/CV joints.


Under bonnet checks

  • Upper suspension joints
  • Any other suspension components which can be inspected from beneath the bonnet

Under vehicle checks
Both the front and rear suspension are checked to ensure.

  • No split pins or nuts missing, no components broken or bent
  • Road springs function effectively, no excessive wear
  • Suspension joints function effectively, no excessive wear
  • 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).

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.


Tyre condition
A failure with respect to tyre wear will result where:-
The grooves of the tread pattern are not at least 1.6mm throughout a continuous band comprising:

  • Central 3/4 of the breadth of tread
  • Entire outer circumference of the tyre.

Tyres must be correctly matched with regard to:

  • Type
  • Size
  • Structure
  • Location on the vehicle with respect to the axles.

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.

Note: The condition of the spare tyre is not part of the MOT.

Wheel condition
Inspection to reveal:

  • Damage
  • Distortion
  • Cracks
  • Distorted bead rims
  • How 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.


Body condition and security

  • The vehicle body must not insecure or displaced so as to constitute a risk of loss of control of the vehicle when driven, or a danger to other road users.
  • There must be no dangerous sharp edges or projections caused by corrosion or damage

A vehicle can fail with respect to corrosion for:

  • Excessive corrosion in a 'prescribed area' - within 30 cms of certain components, e.g. brakes, steering, suspension, seat belt mountings etc.
  • Excessive corrosion in a 'prescribed area', but which is likely to adversely affect the vehicle's brakes or steering.

Note: 'Excessive corrosion' can mean a hole or a significantly weakened structure.


The inspection has to ascertain all items affecting the driver's view of the road: the condition of the windscreen, the wipers and washers.

To book your car in for an MOT now, click here. You'll be glad you did!