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The easy ways to prevent your car failing its MOT

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Carrying out basic car maintenance could avoid the main reasons cars fail their annual MOT, government data suggest.

Nearly 50% of all faults found on MOTs could be avoided by carrying out regular, simple checks and maintenance, such as replacing bulbs, wipers and tyres, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).

Between April 2015 and March 2016, nearly one in five cars taken for their MOT had problems with lighting and signalling – including an easy-to-fix problem of blown bulbs.

The DVSA found that 13% of MOT failures were due to suspension issues, 10% were due to brake problems and just over 7% were caused by issues affecting the driver’s view of the road.

How to avoid an MOT fail

The DVSA is urging drivers to carry out regular, simple checks on cars to avoid failing an MOT. Here’s what to look out for:

  • Brakes work smoothly and that the vehicle doesn’t pull to one side
  • Tyres are correctly inflated, have no cuts or bulges, and all have at least 1.6mm of tread
  • Headlights and other lights work – give them a tap to check they’re not loose or damaged and check the colours are correct and match
  • Windscreen wipers and washers work
  • The driver’s view of the road is clear of any obstruction, such as stickers, toys or air fresheners

See the DVSA’s videos on how to carry out basic car safety checks, including tyres, oil and fluids, brakes, lights and horns.

DVSA chief executive, Gareth Llewellyn, said: “Don’t wait until your MOT to find out if your car needs attention. Make sure your car is properly maintained and safe to drive at all times.

“Carrying out regular checks on lights and tyres will help you to stay safe and legal, as well as saving you time and money when your car’s MOT is due.”

Essential MOT info

  • You can be fined up to £1,000 for driving a vehicle without a valid MOT.
  • An MOT lasts for a year.
  • You can be prosecuted if you drive your vehicle on the road if the MOT has run out.
  • There’s a maximum amount MOT test centres can charge. This depends on the type of vehicle. The maximum fee for a car is £54.85 and £29.65 for a standard motorcycle.


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