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What is an MOT?
The Ministry of Transport test (usually abbreviated to MOT test) is an annual test of automobile safety, roadworthiness aspects and exhaust emissions required in Great Britain for most vehicles over three years old used on any way defined as a road in the Road Traffic Act.
An M.O.T test is carried out by one person only and usually takes around an hour in total to complete. The M.O.T test does not include any servicing of the car and is a minimum safety check to make sure the vehicle is legally safe for the road. After the test is complete and the vehicle passes the M.O.T it may be advised by the mechanic that the vehicle is required to have certain aspects serviced or changed. For example: if the vehicle’s tyres are all close to the minimum required tread depth of 1.6mm, the mechanic that has done the test for the vehicle may advise a tyre change that same day. This also goes for any other parts on the car that may be old and worn. However it is important to remember that for a vehicle to pass an M.O.T it must pass the minimum required legal “safeness” to be driven on the road.
For any vehicle to under go an M.O.T test it MUST have the chasis number. Without this, the vehicle may likely be cloned and can be void from the test. Without the chasis number it is NOT road worthy and can consequently be seized by law.
The first section of the test are all interior checks. These include Seats, seatbelts, warning lamps, switches, wipers, washers, break controls, clutch, accelerator pedal, steering wheel and column, doors, mirrors, horn, speedometer and in some cases, driver controls for class 5 vehicles.
- Lights (including headlamps, fog lights, indicators and break lights) are all checked from the inside of the vehicle. The mechanic operates each lever and pedal whilst looking at a front mirror and rear mirror located on the garage walls.
- All other aspects are checked through operation of each item which for example involves using windscreen wipers and wash fluid to clean the window, any smears or marks must be gone with the use of the wiper blades, pulling of seatbelts and making sure they retract and also the pressing of the horn making sure there is a loud and clear response.
The second section are all exterior checks. These include registration plates, lamps, aim of headlamps, wheels, tyres, shock absorbers, mirrors, fuel tank cap, doors, boot lid, bonnet, towbars and overall condition of the bodywork.
- Plate checks involve making sure that they are securely fastened in the correct place and position with each screw also being positioned away from any lettering to prevent misinterpretation of the registration number.
- Lamp checks involve making sure each bulb works as required and functions in the correct way. Each lamp must also be at the correct visibility in order to be legally safe on the road. Reflectors must be in tact and not damaged or smashed in any way.
- Headlight positioning must be altered if the angle and height of the lamps are either too high or too low. The correct height of the lamps should be 850mm from the ground to prevent blinding other drivers but maintaining a safe beam of light to aid vision in the dark.
- For checks on wheels and tyres, the vehicle is placed on a lift. The vehicle is positioned with its wheels on shake plates so that it can be moved backwards and forwards quickly to check excessive movement. All wheels must stay secure whilst the tyres themselves allow for movement. When the vehicle is lifted above head height, all shock absorbers and casing must not be damaged and fuel lines and drive shafts must not be cracked or exposed completely.
- When checking under the bonnet the car is brought down to floor level whilst remaining on the shake plates. Whilst being moved vigerously, all parts in the engine must not move around or come loose. Any excessive movement under the bonnet or the body of the car could result in test failure.
- With regards to rusting and corrosion, it must be 0.25mm deep for it to effect the parts of the vehicle. However, measuring corrosion can be subjective and in some cases may not be as serious as you think. Remember that it can also be a build up of dirt and oil which can easily be removed.
- The last part of an M.O.T is to check emissions and breaking effectiveness. Petrol vehicels are checked with a probe which is placed in the exhaust pipe. The vehicle is then maintained at around 3000 rpm for 1 minute. Diesel vehicles are maintained at around the same to almost 3/4 full rpm. Diesel vehicles are checked with a smoke machine until the computer says stop. Break tests are either done on a rolling road for normal vehicles or outside in an empty car park for 4x4's to prevent severe damage to the drive shafts.
MOT Check list
The MoT looks at many parts of your car to ensure they meet key legal requirements at the time of test. The MoT Test will make sure:
- The body and vehicle structure is free from excessive corrosion or damage in specific areas and there are no sharp edges likely to cause injury.
- The fuel system has no leaks and the fuel cap fastens and seals securely. The fuel cap will need to be opened so be sure the key is available.
- The exhaust meets the requirements for exhaust emissions, depending on the age and fuel type of the vehicle.
- The exhaust system is secure, complete, without serious leaks and silences effectively.
- Seat belts are checked for type, condition, operation and security. All compulsory seat belts must be in place.
- Seats are secure. Front and rear backseats can be secured in the upright position.
- Doors latch securely in closed position. Front doors should open from inside and outside the vehicle rear doors may need to be opened to gain access to testable items.
- Mirrors are in place, in good condition and secure.
- The boot or tailgate can be secured in the closed position.
- The brakes are in good condition and the operation and performance (efficiency test) is satisfactory. Note the removal of the road wheels is not part of the test.
- The tyres and wheels are in good condition, secure, of the correct size and type and tread depth is sufficient. Spare tyres are not inspected.
- The registration plates are in good condition and secure and that the characters are correctly formed and spaced.
- The lights are in operational condition and secure. Headlamps are tested for aim.
- The bonnet securely latches in the closed position.
- Wipers and washers operate to give the driver a clear view ahead.
- The windscreen is in good condition and the driver's view of the road is clear.
- The horn operates correctly and is of a suitable type.
- Steering and suspension are of a satisfactory condition and operation.
- The vehicle identification number (VIN) is on vehicles first used on or after 1 August 1980. Not more than one different VIN is displayed except on multistage build vehicles.