How to get your car to pass its MOT test first time

Here’s a top tip guide on how to get your car to pass its MOT test first time.

Not only does passing an MOT on first past make life a hell of a lot easier, it’s cheaper with no re-test fees or having to drive back and forth to the test centre.

Furthermore the more work and fixes you can do yourself beforehand, the cheaper any repair bill will be.

Things like fixing bulbs or replacing wipers are trivial tasks that even the most novice of car drivers should be able to achieve, especially with a wealth of how-tos online.


Check all of your lights - headlights, indicators, reverse lights, rear lights, etc. - are in working order and replace any blown bulbs. Garages can charge an extortionate amount to fix broken lights that can take you a few minutes to do with a spare bulb costing a few quid.

Keep an ear out

Excessive or unusual noise or rattles when the vehicle is running is something to get looked into.
Car parking MOT

Test the wipers

Your front and rear wipers should be operational and adequately clear the windscreen. If needs be, fit new wipers. You can pick them up online, at any car shop or even at most big supermarkets. Also check the windscreen washers are working and not blocked or frozen over.

Look for cracks and chips

Damage to the windscreen - especially on the driver's side - can be an MOT fail. Get any chips or cracks fixed beforehand. Most car insurance policies will cover windscreen repairs for free.

Get a legal registration plate

Check your registration plate is legal as this is part of the MOT. It needs to of the correct size, colour, font and spacing. Also make sure that your rear registration lights are working and replace any broken bulbs.


Tyre check

Check all of your tyres for wear and tear. They should have at least 1.6mm of thread depth all over and no signs of lumps or chords showing. Replace any potentially unsafe tyres as soon as you can.

Check oil, coolant and antifreeze levels

Do a quick check and - if required - topping up of the oil, coolant and anti-freeze/screen wash levels. Always good to keep these extras of these fluids in the boot too!

Hit the horn

The horn is also part of the MOT check, give it a quick toot to ensure it's operational.

Give the car a clean

A VERY dirty can can fail an MOT or even not be accepted by a garage to be tested. It doesn’t need to be sparkling but make sure it’s an acceptable condition and things like the windscreen, lights and registration plates are clear of mud.

Car 3

Diagnose warning lights

Warning lights on the dashboard have been a part of the MOT since 2012. If any are appearing, consult the handbook for what to do about them.

Picture credits: © sWG Stock

About the author: Thomas Brella

Thomas Brella is the founder of Student Hacks, starting the website in 2013 while studying at the University of Brighton to share tips and tricks on life as a cash-strapped student. He's now spent over 10 years scoping out the best ways to live on a budget

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