5 common MOT faults that are easy to avoid

5 common MOT faults that are easy to avoid

The MOT test as we know it today was introduced sixty years ago, and has, over time, become more probing and detailed. Motorists might baulk at the annual assault on their bank balances but there is no doubt that the Test has saved lives and ensured vehicles are safer and more reliable. So we accept that we are going to have to spend some money but we can at least mitigate that cost by doing our own pre-MOT checks and identifying simple faults that we can attend to ourselves.

Common Faults

The vehicle tester down at your local servicing and MOT garage will have a check list. The list is available online for anyone to see and there are definitely some items that can be addressed by the owner, not requiring any in-depth automotive knowledge or indeed a great deal of time.

In truth, these are things drivers should be checking routinely anyway; there is no need to wait for the week before the test is due.


It may or may not come as surprise to learn that more than ten percent of MOT failures (other issues aside) are down to tyre condition and air pressure faults, items that are easily avoidable. Routinely, a check of the car’s tyre pressures plus a physical inspection will show up any sidewall lumps, bumps or cracks in the rubber and that tyre wear is even across the surface and the tread depth meets the minimum standard of at least 1.6mm. Correct air pressure is crucial to handling and grip and getting the most value out of expensive tyres.


Get a friend or family member to help with this. Operate all the lights, side, head and main beam, and make sure they are all working as they should. If the headlights look as if they are out of kilter (on-coming motorists will soon indicate to you if they are being dazzled) they will need adjusting. If in doubt about the settings, get your local garage to check them. Check too the condition of the lamp covers. Sometimes these can be hazy or clouded and may constitute a failure. It’s an easy fix.

Ensure all indicators are working, including any side mounted supplementary units. That goes too for brake lights; some cars have an additional light or lights roof-mounted: If it’s on the car then it has to be working. Also, check dashboard lights: If any are showing when the car is operating then there’s a fault somewhere.


If the lights help a driver to see and be seen, it is also important to ensure that there is a clear view of the road. Make sure there is nothing impeding the view from the drivers seat. Although many vehicles today have a built-in satellite navigation feature, many drivers still use accessory items or smartphones to guide their way.

Accessories like this should not in any way block the driver’s view. The rules on this are surprisingly strict, so having a navigator at eye level on the screen is a no-no. The same goes for large hanging items like furry dice or air fresheners, but they are so 1970’s anyway.

Suspension & Steering

Using a car daily makes it easy to become accustomed to the odd noise or creak. We don’t notice that the brake or clutch pedals have become a little softer for example. Thus any noise coming from the corners of the car can become white noise, ignored by the driver.

The cause could be leaking or damaged suspension components like shock absorbers. If the car doesn’t seem to sit level at rest, or makes an unusual noise over our rough roads then there may be a problem. Try walking round the car and pressing down at each corner; if there’s a noise or the car doesn’t spring back into position then the suspension has an issue. Get it checked before it gets expensive.

Similarly, any strange noises or any form of difficulty steering around corners or wandering in a straight line indicate a steering fault. Get it sorted.


Hear any squealing or grinding noises from the brakes? These are signs that the pads are getting thin or that the disc itself is worn.
Under braking, does the car stop in a straight line or does it pull to one side? These are faults that require the attention of a qualified vehicle technician. With alloy wheels it is often possible to to inspect the brake pads and discs through the wheel, so it is worth a look when inspecting the tyres.

All of these potentials MOT failure points are well within the remit of any able-bodied driver and will take less time to do then the time it took to write this article. It is worth the effort too, if faults can be discovered prior to the MOT test. If nothing else it will save the additional cost of a re-test.

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