A Comprehensive Guide to MOT Test Checks

The MOT test, which stands for the Ministry of Transport test, is an annual roadworthiness examination mandatory in the UK for most vehicles over 3 years old. It aims to ensure that cars and other light passenger vehicles meet the minimum legal safety and environmental standards before they can be used on public roads. But what exactly is checked during an MOT inspection? This article provides a detailed overview of the key areas and components examined.

The MOT assessment is extensive, checking over 50 vehicle systems and components. This ensures that there are no critical faults or defects that could affect the vehicle’s safety or cause harm to vehicle occupants, pedestrians, or other road users. Some of the major categories covered in the MOT test include:

Lights and Signaling Devices Inspection

The external lighting is thoroughly checked during the MOT. This includes an examination of:

  • Headlights – alignment, brightness, beam color
  • Taillights, brake lights, turn signals – operation and condition
  • Hazard warning lights, fog lights, license plate light – functioning properly
  • Horn – works correctly

All lighting must meet legal performance standards without any identified cracks, damage, or issues.

mot test checks guide

Steering, Suspension, and Wheels Assessment

The MOT inspection ensures that components related to directional control and stability of the vehicle are in sound working order through checks on:

  • Steering wheel and column – excessive play or looseness
  • Power steering system – leaks, functionality
  • Front and rear suspension – the condition of springs, shock absorbers, wishbones, ball joints, and other linkages
  • Wheel bearings, tie rod ends – wear and tear
  • Wheels and tyres – tread depth, inflation pressure, bulges, cuts, cracks

Brakes Examination

Given their crucial role in enabling safe stops, extensive tests are done on the following:

ComponentChecks Performed
Service brakes– Effectiveness
– Imbalance
– Binding issues
Parking brake– Functionality
– Effectiveness
Brake fluid– Level
– Contamination
Brake pads/shoes– Wear
– Damage
– Security
Brake discs/drums– Wear
– Damage
– Security
Brake lines/hoses– Condition 
– Leaks
– Routing
ABS system– Warning light operation

Seatbelts and Supplemental Restraint Systems Test

Key occupant safety systems are checked for defects:

  • Seatbelts – operation, buckling and unbuckling, retractor mechanisms
  • Airbag warning light – indicates system faults
  • Seatbelt pretensioners – presence and condition

Driver’s View of the Road Check

The driver’s vision must be unobstructed; hence checks on:

  • Windshield – cracks, chips, discoloration
  • Windshield wipers and blades – operation, wear and tear
  • Rearview mirror – condition and presence as legally required

Exhaust System and Emissions Measurement

The vehicle’s emissions impact is assessed by:

  • Exhaust system – leaks, cracks, noise, routing
  • Diesel particulate filter (DPF) – operation and regeneration
  • Catalytic converter – security, tampering, modifications
  • Exhaust gas analysis – HC, CO2, O2 levels using emission testing equipment

Other Items Inspected

Additional safety-related components checked include:

  • Fuel system – leaks, fuel cap seal, tank security
  • Doors – open, close, and lock securely
  • Battery – security, leaks, condition
  • Engine oil leaks
  • Body condition – sharp edges, corrosion

Preparing Your Vehicle for the MOT

Conducting pre-MOT checks and fixes based on a MOT checklist greatly improves your chances of sailing through the test. Read this article on pre-test inspections and preparations.

The MOT evaluation covers over 50 vehicle safety inspection checks across all major systems, from brakes and tyres to seat belts and emissions. Meeting the MOT requirements indicates your vehicle meets the legal standards for roadworthiness. However, more comprehensive ongoing car maintenance is vital beyond just passing the annual MOT.


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