How do I prepare for an MOT? | First Stop Blog

How to prepare your car for an MOT?

An MOT is a vital safety check carried out on your car if it is over 3 years old, if you have a relatively new car, check the exact registration date to make sure you don't miss it!  Cars made before 1960 are exempt from this.

The MOT is then required every year but you shouldn't see it as a chore, it really is a great safety check on your vehicle to protect you and other road users.

Our simple checklist covers all the things to do before booking your car in at a professional garage


Light up the road and test your signals


30% of cars fail an MOT because of a light or indicator fault. Avoid this by checking your lights and indicators before your MOT test. 


Despite it being the most common MOT failure, it’s easily avoidable. Ask a friend or family member to stand outside while you check your headlights and indicators — simple! Remember to check your hazard lights, tail lights, sidelights and brake lights. 


Replacement bulbs are cheap if needed. However, they can be fiddly to fit. To save you time and trouble, we recommend you get a professional to do it for you. 


Make sure your brakes are working


As one of the most safety-critical car components — along with your car’s tyres — your brakes are also checked during an MOT test. 


An MOT tester will be checking your car stops effectively-and in a straight line. There must also be an adequate amount of rubber on the brake pedal. And if your car has anti-lock brakes, the ABS warning light must work, too. 


If the brakes feel spongy when you’re pressing on the pedals, there could be air in the hydraulic system. Now would also be a good time to check your brake fluid.  




You use your handbrake every time you get in the car, so you’ll know if it’s not working properly. If your car rolls away when the handbrake is applied, obviously there’s a problem, and you should get it checked out immediately! 


You can check the cable for wear and tear by listening to the ‘clicks’ when you pull the handbrake. Too many clicks and the cable may need replacing or adjusting. If you’re unsure, get a professional to have a closer look! 

Check your tyre’s tread depth 


The ‘20p test’ takes seconds to do and will give you a clear indication of whether your tyres are above the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm. All you need is a 20p coin. Here’s how to do it: 


  • Place a 20p coin into the main groove of your tyre 
  • If you can’t see the raised edge around the coin, your tyre’s tread is likely greater than the minimum legal limit of 1.6mm.
  • If you can see the raised edge, you should get it checked out by a professional as it could be unsafe and illegal. 

While the 20p test is helpful, it’s not 100% accurate. If you’re still unsure, check your tread using a depth gauge, or pop to your local First Stop garage. 


Honk if you’re… 


… looking to pass your MOT test! Give the horn a good blast and make sure you’re heard! And just for the record, novelty horns that play tunes or varied notes will not pass an MOT. 

Windscreen, wipers and mirrors  


A chip or crack in your windscreen within the area wiped by the wiper blades could cost you a pass. Anything larger than 10mm within your driving view is a fail. However, up to 40mm is allowed outside the driver’s view. Check your insurance policy as some cover a chip repair or replacement windscreen.


While we’re on wiper blades, these must be in good condition with plenty of rubber to leave your windscreen smear-free. What’s more, your rear-view mirrors must be secure and free from damage, too. 


Check your seats and seatbelts 


It’s no surprise your seatbelts must be in good condition given their job. This includes the clip, locking mechanism and belt. Give your seatbelts a sharp tug and make sure the restraint systems are working correctly. And remember, this applies to all your seatbelts.


Last but not least, clean your car 


First impressions matter, especially when going for an MOT test. If your car is very dirty, the garage can reject it - this is only in extreme circumstances though. If this does happen, you could be left without a car, as MOT tests aren’t always readily available. 


A good blast of the jet washer before an MOT will ensure front and back number plates are visible. 

Here’s to an MOT pass! 


Spending some time giving your car a good checking over is always worth doing, regardless of whether it’s due an MOT, safety is our key priority for you and your vehicle.

If you have an MOT booked and need help with any of the services mentioned in this post, locate a First Stop garage near you. 


Or the book an MOT online at the following locations:

A&A Tyres and Auto Services, Cardiff

The Auto Workshop, Birmingham

Ellis Autos, Berkhamstead

Pan Autos, Harpenden

Parr Automotive, Leicestershire

Pilgrim Tyres, Plymouth

White Waltham, Maidenhead