How can I prepare my car for an MOT?

Taking the time to get your car ready for its MOT test can save you money in the long run. That’s why we have made a guide so that your car has the best chance of passing the MOT test.

Service history

Check your paperwork (invoices, your diary, dealer stamps in the service book in your car) to ensure you can provide correct answers to the following questions, if needed:
  • When was your car last serviced?
  • When did your car last visit a garage for an inspection or repair?

Engine management lights

Do all your car’s engine management lights come on when you start the engine, then go out after a few seconds? This is the best way for you to check if all lights are functioning as they should.

All the lights that should appear when you start your car

Glass, mirrors and lights

With the engine running, turn on your hazard lights, fog lights and headlights, then walk round the car and check that they are all working.

If there is no one available to walk round the car while you are inside, wait for evening light, then park the car near to a wall. With the engine running, press the brake pedal, and you should be able to see the brake lights reflect on the wall. You can repeat this process for the indicators; turn each indicator on separately and check that they work too. It would also be a good idea to check the windscreen and rear view mirrors for any damage.



Tyre requirements can be confusing to people who are unsure what exactly happens in an MOT. However, the main checks you need to make are:

  • All tyres are free from any bulges, lumps or tears, and sit neatly on the wheel rim.
  • All four wheels are the same size (a ‘space saving’ spare wheel is a failure)
  • Each tyre is the same size, type of structure and aspect ratio, as the tyre on the opposite side of the car (left to right). Each tyre has its size marked on the side wall.
  • The legal minimum tread depth for cars in the UK is 1.6mm. A good way to test your tyres depth yourself is to simply place a 20p coin into the main tread grooves of your tyre. If the outer band of the 20p coin is obscured when it is inserted, then your tread is above the legal limit. If the outer band of the coin is visible, then your tyres may be illegal and unsafe and should be checked immediately by a qualified tyre professional.


General driving and other checks

Is there any smoke, at any time? Are there any strange smells from the engine, exhaust or around the wheels, especially when hot?

Start your car and go for a drive with the radio off.

  • Are there are any loud roars or growling noises from the car when you start the engine, or at any other time?
  • Are there any droning noises when cornering, or any loud clunking noises when braking or going over bumps?
  • Have you noticed that the car is using more oil or fuel (petrol or diesel) than it used to?
  • When waiting at a junction or at traffic lights, do the car’s revs seems unusually high?
When braking, (especially from high speed):
  • Does the car start to move from one side of the road to another?
  • Can you feel any judder in the pedal, steering wheel or car?
  • Can you hear any noise (especially a metallic noise)?
  • Does the pedal feel spongy, or travel more than it used to?

Are there any other faults that you are aware of, or is there anything wrong with how the car drives, looks or sounds?


Other Tips

Do not forget! Missing your MOT can lead to a fine of £1,000 and invalidate car insurance (which has the potential to lead to penalty points)

Book a test date up to a month before your current MOT expires. If you need repairs, it gives you time & options. You will not lose any time on your MOT in this manner as the certificate will renew from the expiry date.

MOT results will surprise you – there’s approx. 600 ways to fail. With the recent changes to the MOT test, things can seem even more confusing, but if you want to discover more about what happens in the new MOT tests read this blog we produced that explains all.

If you have found something during your checks or want to book any repairs or an MOT, get in contact with one of our sites who will be able to assist:




Are there any other tips you know that are helpful pre-MOT? Let us know on our social channels! We are @twwhiteandsons on Facebook and Twitter. Check out our blog for more content!