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Mandatory MOT tests to recommence on August 1: Here’s what to check beforehand

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A valid MOT is required by law – but what should you look at on your car before having it tested?

Mandatory MOTs recommence in August

The Department for Transport has announced that MOT tests will be recommencing on August 1, bringing an end to the period of automatic exemption brought in to keep key workers on the move during the coronavirus pandemic.

And while up until that point cars will still be eligible for a six-month extension, vehicles with MOTs due after August 1 will need to be tested – so here’s what to check prior to getting your car tested.

Tyres

Tyre pressure check
It’s paramount that a car’s tyres are inflated to the correct level (Goodyear)

Tyres are the main point of contact between a car and the road, so it’s not difficult to work out why they’re so important. An MOT test will check the general condition of a tyre as well as the amount of tread it has, so it’s important to give them a thorough looking over. Make sure that they’re inflated to the correct pressure too.

The legal minimum tyre tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm throughout a continuous band in the middle of the tyre. Tread gauges are the best way to check the depth, but you can use a 20p piece too – put the coin into a groove and, if the outer rim of the 20p piece is obscured the tyre has enough tread. If you can see the outer rim, it’s definitely time for some new rubber.

Number plate

It can be easy to forget to check the number plate, but it’s an area which is checked during the test. Ensure it’s the right colour and that it’s fully legible too. It must also be the right size, too.

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Headlights and indicators

BMW detail
It’s paramount that the headlights are checked prior to an MOT

Headlights and indicators are crucial to remaining safe on the road, which is why they’re a key part of the MOT test. Ensure they’re all working, and don’t forget to test the hazard lights too!

Brake lights

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If you want to let people know that you’re slowing down, then brake lights are a key – and legal – must. One of the easiest ways to check them over is to reverse up to a reflective surface – such as a window or shiny garage door – then press the brake pedal and check in the rearview mirror to ensure they’re working.

Seats and seatbelts

Seatbelts
Seatbelts must be tested

Front seats should have a good range of motion, so slide them forward and back to make sure everything is moving freely and easily. Seatbelts should be checked over properly too; pull them in and out to check they’re operating correctly and give them a sharp tug as well to make sure that they react as they should do if a crash were to occur.

Horn

While you’re inside the car, test out the horn and make sure it works – this is something that testers will check straight away.

Screenwash

Washer fluid is essential for maintaining windscreen visibility. (PA)

The majority of the checks on this list are easy to work out, but checking the screenwash is something that many people forget to do. An MOT centre can fail a car if there’s not enough screenwash in the bottle – so it’s crucial that you check to see it’s filled to the proper level.

Windscreen

Dirty windscreen
Check the windscreen for damage

And while we’re on the subject of being able to see out of a car properly, it’s a good time to check over the windscreen. Any damage larger than 40mm will result in a fail, so look out for any stone chips or cracks.

Windscreen wipers

Windscreen wipers
Give the wipers a check over too (nubumbim/Getty Images)

While you’re checking over the windscreen, give the wipers a thorough look too. They should be able to effectively clear the screen, leaving no streaks or making a ‘rubbing’ noise. If that’s the case, replace them – it’s a two-minute job on the vast majority of cars.

Engine fluids and levels

Stock – Car Maintenance
Check that the oil levels in a car are correct

It’s best to make sure that your car has plenty of fuel in the tank before you put it into its MOT, and it’s possible that you could be turned away from the test centre if your car doesn’t have enough petrol or diesel. The same goes for engine oil – so check the levels of this are correct, too.

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