A lot of MOT failures can be avoided by performing a few simple checks before coming to the test. Click each header to find out how.


Tyres should have 1.6mm or more tread depth across 75% of their width. You should also replace any tyres that are visibly damaged or deteriorated and check that the tyre pressure is correct.
TIP: If you don’t have a tyre gauge to test the tread use the edge of a 20p coin – if the rim around the edge of the coin is smaller than the tread level you’re OK!


Check that all of the lights are working, clean and the correct colour: headlights (white), rear lights (red), sidelights (white), brake lights (red), indicators (yellow), hazard lights (yellow) and lights for number plates (white).
TIP: If lights flicker when you tap them, the bulbs probably need tightening up or replacing.

Warning lights

In 2013 the test scheme was updated to include some of the newer technology seen in modern cars. Since then, points such as illuminated airbag lights have become a common failure item, so it is worth getting those checked out before the MOT. See ‘Changes to the MOT test, March 2013‘ for a full list of these newer test items.


Wiper blades need to be clean, intact and to not leave smears on the screen which will obscure the driver’s view.
TIP: If your wipers have picked up a lot of grease from the road that’s smearing the window, give them a wipe over with some white vinegar.


The windscreen needs to allow the driver a clear view of the road – if there are any chips over 10mm in size in the area directly above the steering wheel (top to bottom of the window), this is likely to cause an MOT failure. Elsewhere on the windscreen, the limit is 40mm.
Screenwash should be be topped up and working properly.
TIP: If the washer jet is a bit weak (and the screenwash tank is not empty) wiggle a pin in the nozzle to see if that clears it.


There must be at least two rear view mirrors or indirect vision devices (cameras) fitted with a clear view towards the rear of the vehicle. One of these must be fitted to the offside (driver’s side).

Doors and bonnet

Make sure all doors and the bonnet can be opened and that they close again properly. Front doors need to be opened from both inside and outside. Back doors only need to be opened from the outside.
TIP: While you’re checking the bonnet, make sure that your oil, screenwash and brake fluid are topped up.