Car Maintenance | How to Guides | How to Avoid an MOT Failure
Car Maintenance How to Guides

How to Avoid an MOT Failure

10th January, 2023

A lot of our customers tell us that coming in for their annual MOT check is a nerve-racking time, and with as many as 1.5 million vehicles failing for minor things every year, it’s easy to understand why. But there are many things you can do to improve the chances of your vehicle passing first time, saving your money and your nerves!

Take a look at our list of easy checks below:


Bulbs are an especially common reason for MOT failures, but they’re also usually cheap to replace. By checking your headlights and indicators before you visit us, you can let us know which bulbs need fitting before we start the test. Remember to check all of the following: headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights, brake lights and indicator. You’ll need a friend to help with the brake lights!


If your number plate is illegible due to being dirty, make sure you give it a quick wipe. You’ll also need to ensure that your plate’s font and letter spacing complies with legal requirements.


If your tyre tread is below the legal limit of 1.6mm, your car will fail its MOT. Not only this, the penalty if you’re caught on the road is up to £2,500 and 3 penalty points per tyre. An easy way to check your tyre tread is by taking a 20p coin and putting it into the tread in your tyres. If the outer band of the 20p isn’t visible, your tyres are probably okay. However, if you can see part of the outer band, there’s a good chance they’re illegal.

If you suspect that this might be the case, let us know your tyre size (found on the outer edge of your existing tyre), and we’ll quote for a replacement tyre as well as ordering them in for the day of your MOT.


All of the seatbelts in your car should extend and retract smoothly when you pull them, and must lock when pulled quickly. As well as this, they need to be in good condition with no damage to do their job properly. Check each one at full length to make sure they’re full working order.


Any damage to the windscreen wider than 4mm will cause an MOT failure. Check for cracks you might not have already noticed.

Make sure anything hanging from your rear-view mirror is removed also, such as air fresheners. Anything blocking the drivers view is also an MOT failure. It only takes a few seconds to you remove, but our technicians must inspect the car as it is when it’s brought in, meaning we’d have to fail you first time if the driver’s view is impaired.


Unsurprisingly, your windscreen wipers need to be fit for purpose when you bring your vehicle in, meaning they must be effective in clearing the screen of water and dirt. Wiper blades are quick and affordable to change, so it’s worth checking these and letting us know if they’re not doing their job. That way we can save time by ordering in your wiper blades ahead of your appointment.

At Fox, we top up your screen wash with every service, which are available from just £89. Alternatively, if your service isn’t due, you can pick up screen wash from most petrol stations, so make sure you’ve topped up before you pop in.


If you can’t remember the last time road rage got the better of you, check you horn is working just in case. You’ll need a working horn to pass the MOT, so if there are any problems with it, you’ll need to get it repaired.


Your car must have sufficient levels of both fuel and engine oil for us to test your emissions levels, which means if you come to us without enough fuel/engine oil, we’ll be unable to go ahead with the MOT check – which, of course, we don’t want! Check your levels before you come in to see us – and make sure the engine is cool first!

Booked in for a service too? We’ll replenish your oil with every service, which means you won’t need to check your oil.

Think your vehicle is ready for its MOT test? Book online today or give us a call on 01276 704600.