MOT Checklist

MOT inspections can be one of the most stressful aspects of owning a vehicle. There are numerous areas that this examination covers; some of which are unfamiliar to the average car owner. These checks are performed once a year to ensure a car is roadworthy, and even cars that are newly registered will have to undergo the very same stringent test three years after the registration date. So, it proves wise to summarise some of the key checks an individual can perform before the test takes place. This MOT checklist can help save a great deal of time, money and aggravation.

Exterior Car Lighting

Functioning lights are of utmost importance to the safe handling of a vehicle in motion. Therefore, an owner must first confirm that all lights are in working order. Although this is rather common sense, let us recap what lights will be examined for their functionality.

  • Low and High Beam headlamps
  • Running lights (side lights)
  • Brakelights
  • Side repeating lights
  • Licence plate lights
  • Driver’s side fog lights
  • Hazard lights
  • Turn indicators (front and rear)

Mechanic Inspecting TyresTyres

As tyres represent an important safety feature for any vehicle under numerous road conditions, they are of primary concern on any MOT checklist. The owner needs to make certain that they are of legal tread depth of 1.6mm around for three-quarters of the tyre’s circumference. Damage such as splits, cracks or bulges should be noted. Additionally, it should be made certain that the front and rear tyres on the same axle are the same size, that all lug nuts are firmly in place and that there is no additional visible damage.


A car’s interior is as equally important of a safety component as the outside. First and foremost, all safety and lap belts must be fully functional. They must be adjustable and free of any wear-and-tear on the fabric or the clasping mechanisms. The seats themselves must be able to moved forward and back easily and also must be shown to be securely mounted to the chassis. A rear-view mirror must be present, movable and free from obstructions. Any mechanical failures in these areas can lead to a failing test.

Windscreen, Wipers and Washer Jets

An MOT checklist must also take into account the vehicle’s windscreen. The glass must be free of chips and cracks, but there are some stipulations to keep in mind. Any crack over 10mm within the driver’s scope of vision (above the steering wheel) will cause the car to fail, as will any crack over 40mm in the area traversed by the wipers. If there are smaller cracks that fall within these categories, purchasing a windscreen repair kit is an excellent way to remedy these problems before the cracks inevitably grow larger. For the wipers, it needs to be determined that they are free from any mechanical cracking or fraying and that they can clear the entire are of the windscreen that they cover. Likewise, the washer jets need to be aimed correctly and free from any obstructions.


The entire exhaust manifold must be securely bolted to the vehicle’s chassis. There must not be any holes in the system present and this can usually be determined by listening the the car in low gear while parked to ascertain whether or not there may be any air escaping.


In agreement with local and national laws, the MOT requires that every car’s exhaust falls at or below certain emission guidelines. It is advisable to have a car properly serviced before an MOT inspection to avoid failure due to poor emissions performance.

Brakes (Handbrake and Footbrakes)

Brake inspection

An MOT checklist would not be complete without mentioning the critical importance of the braking system. A good way to test the handbrake is to take the vehicle to a moderately inclined road free from traffic and apply the handbrake. The brake should secure the car firmly in place. An excellent way to determine that a footbrake is working functionally is to slowly depress the pedal. Any change in resistance or “spongy” feeling may indicate that the brake fluid may be low or the master cylinder may need changing. Also, the brake lines should be inspected for any signs of leaks and they should be firmly attached to the undercarriage. Finally, the car should be tested to make certain that it does not “pull” to either side when braking. This will cause it to fail the MOT test.


Any signs of profound rust or metal fatigue can cause a car to fail this inspection. However, the inspector will focus on key load-bearing areas such as chassis cross-members or side sills.

Shock Absorbers

These systems are critical for a vehicle’s handling around turns and in bumpy conditions. Shock absorbers need to be free from rust and corrosion and must have no visible hydraulic fluid leaks. While visually inspecting the absorbers can help ascertain their functionality, uneven tyre wear may also indicate poor shock absorber performance.

Doors and Locks

All doors should shut smoothly and securely. They should all be able to be locked with either an electronic system of a manual key (depending on the make and model). They should lock securely in place with no observed looseness or rattling.


The vehicle’s steering mechanism needs to be smooth. There should be no “play” in the wheel when turned left to right, nor should the wheel be exceedingly difficult to turn mechanically. Lastly, the wheel needs to be firmly attached to the rack itself.

Licence Plates

Both front and back number plates need to be securely fastened to the vehicle. They should not present any form of significant damage or rust and all numbers and letters must be clearly visible.

Side Mirrors

Any external mirrors need to be secure and able to be adjusted to various heights and angles. It is not allowed for these mirrors to be held in place by tape or any other material.


The horn needs to be in working condition. It must also be audible enough to attract attention. Of particular note, musical air horns will fail an examination.

MOT Checklist


Finally, the cap to the petrol tank must lock securely in place. The gasket inside the cap should not be split or worn.

Final MOT Checklist thoughts

So, we can see here that there are a number of requirements that need to be carefully examined on this MOT checklist. Each factor is critical to receive a passing score. Although some owners may tend to forgo such “minor” considerations such as licence plates or a secure fuel cap, the government is very strict in these matters and there is no such thing as a triviality in an MOT examination. This checklist can help the owner determine if there are any areas that need to be addressed before taking the car into a certified MOT test location.

For more detailed information on the exact checks carried out in an MOT test please see the official MOT Inspection Manuals.

Category: MOT Checklist