Your annual MOT is a check whether your car is safe to be on the roads. Of course, all vehicles should always be safe to be on the roads, regardless of their MOT status, but the test is your proof that the car is roadworthy. Shockingly, up to 40% of all MOTs result in a fail, and often this is not because the car has major faults. Instead it is minor criteria which trip up the vehicle’s status, simple things such as having a partially obscured view through the vehicle’s windows and windscreens! The latter is in the top five causes of MOT fails, which is a huge shame as it will take you mere moments to correct – but you will have to pay the retest fee, if charged, and go through the whole process again!

Motorists driving in busy areas like Yorkshire or nearby like Ossett or Wakefield need to know proper MOT details before taking their vehicle on the road. Let’s take a look at the practicalities of the MOT and how to pass your test on the first attempt.

All About the MOT

MOT tests were introduced in 1960 as the population began to embrace the joys of personal vehicles, and the first fleets of lorries were beginning to age out – with sometimes unfortunate consequences. More and more accidents were happening and the government decided that they must act to remove the more dangerous vehicles from the road. Those first tests were conducted on vehicles over ten years old, on a voluntary basis – and of the first 1.5 million vehicles that were brought in to be tested, over 40% of them failed. A large number of vehicles were thought to be scrapped without paying the test fee as the owners knew without a doubt that they would fail. Almost immediately the ten-year age was reduced to seven, and by 1967 it was fixed on cars that were three years old.

Original MOT certificates were paper, and drivers were expected to carry them at all times when they were behind the wheel. Today, the records are all stored digitally, allowing the police to run a check on a car’s MOT status without even needing to stop the driver. If you are driving without a valid MOT, a simple computer check will alert the police to that fact, and they will then very definitely stop you!

The way the results are given was streamlined in 2018 and a vehicle will now be given a pass or a pass with minor faults or a fail with major faults or a fail with dangerous faults. When you have a pass with minor faults, there is an expectation that you will fix the issues within a reasonable time, so do act promptly and fix any minor faults, preferably before the police pull you over to make sure you have done it! Major and dangerous faults will need to be fixed before you can drive the vehicle again. The main difference between the two is that if you fail with major faults, you can drive the car straight to your mechanic from the testing centre, whereas with dangerous faults you will not be permitted to drive the car at all, needing to call your mechanic and arrange for a car-carrier to collect it.

Let us now take a look at the specifics that the examiner will look for.

Keep it Clean

Any inspector is well within their rights to refuse to test any vehicle that is unacceptably dirty or cluttered. The inspector is under no obligation to conduct your test if they feel that they will be unsafe or at risk in your vehicle, and all your pleas and protestations about the deadline drawing closer will fall on deaf ears. Take a moment to take everything unnecessary out of the car, and give it a quick clean before your test, inside and out.

Windows, Mirrors and Windscreens

Part of the test is ensuring that the driver has a good view of the world around them, so while you are giving the car a wash, make sure that all the windows and windscreens are clean too. Your mirrors should be whole, clean and positioned so that you have a maximized field of vision when driving.

Tyres and Wheels

As well as being properly fitted, the right size and all matching – if you have been using a spare, try to get the original tyre repaired or replaced before the test – and balanced, your tyres need to be able to control the direction and speed of the car at your request.


Tread depth should be a minimum of 1.6mm deep across the entire middle three-quarters of the width of the tyres for legal compliance. Many mechanics recommend leaving more tread depth before changing your tyres, especially in colder weather or if you will be driving on tricky roads.

Your tyres should be in good condition, with no pieces of missing rubber, signs of damage, or dimples or bulges in the sidewalls. Correct tyre inflation has fairly recently been added to the MOT test, as modern tyres work much better within the recommended range. Experts at Ossett Tyre House can help you out if you are looking to get your MOT done in Wakefield.

Light It Up

Your MOT test will check all your lights: front and back lights, brake and reversing lights, your hazards, the dipping function for oncoming traffic, fog lights if fitted, any warning lights in the dashboard, and even the number-plate light. Lights should be of a suitable brightness and evenly lit if they are paired – having one dim and one bright light is off-putting for other drivers and can be distracting.

Number Plate

Speaking of your numberplate, it should be fixed tightly to the vehicle and be clear and legible. It should also be in a standardized font and style – any fancy vanity plates could earn you a fail.

Speedometer Calibrated

Your speedometer should be in good working order and – if necessary – recently calibrated to your in-built GPS.

Check Your Emissions

Your vehicle should produce no visible exhaust – not counting cold days when the exhaust condenses much like our breath – as the days of thick choking fumes are long gone. If you have filters fitted, any attempt to cheat emissions checks will result in an instant fail or the inspector refusing to continue with the test.

Finally, check the whole body of the car which should be clean, in good repair and without any visible damage or loose parts that might fall off. For more details, check the full checklist here.

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