MOT Checklist | What is checked on an MOT | First Stop

MOT checklist

A valid MOT certificate is a welcome sight for all motorists, with good reason!

Without a valid MOT, you could be charged up to £1,000 and what’s more, if you get behind the wheel after your vehicle was deemed 'dangerous' by an MOT test, you could be hit with a £2,500 fine, be banned and be penalised with 3 penalty points.

It goes without saying that booking with your nearest MOT test centre is the best thing that you can do, easing any concerns that you might have right now.

Our comprehensive MOT checklist covers everything that is checked on an MOT. Help your car pass the first time with our MOT test checklist.

MOT needed for car insurance

It might be stating the obvious, but it is also a legal requirement to provide a valid MOT certificate for car insurance purposes.

In other words, if your car hasn’t passed its MOT, any insurance policy is void. You won’t be able to claim and worse still, if you're caught without car insurance when on the road, you can expect a hefty fine and up to six points on your licence.

mot sign

What is checked on an MOT?

An MOT will ensure your vehicle meets road safety and environmental standards. If your vehicle meets these standards, it will pass its MOT, and be deemed fit for the road. MOT requirements are strict, but they are designed to protect you and other road users ensuring your car is safe to be on the road.

Lights, reflectors and electrical equipment


30% of all MOT failures relate to lighting and signalling. To pass an MOT, your vehicle’s front, rear, brake, fog, registration plate lights and reflectors must: 

  • Be in the correct position and secure 
  • Clearly visible and not obscured
  • In good condition 
  • Be the correct colour (a blue-ish tinge to front LEDs is acceptable as this is standard with most modern cars)
  • Not fault when any other light is switched on
  • Aim below the horizontal (inc. dip beam and main beam) 
  • Be the same colour, shape and size 


Your car’s horn must be loud enough to be heard by pedestrians and other road users. It must also emit a continuous sound. Note: novelty horns will not pass an MOT test!


The battery must be secure with no signs of leaking fluid. An MOT tester will also check the condition of your battery’s connectors, which should be tight and free from leaky electrolytes.

Electrical wiring

All electrical sockets must be in good condition to pass an MOT test. Any socket that is damaged, and could detach or short circuit will fail. 

Tyres and wheels


To be deemed fit for the road, your tyres must be the appropriate speed and load rating for your vehicle. Tread depth is another important factor and needs to be at least 1.6mm. Your tyres will also need to be free from cuts, lumps, bulges and tears larger than 25mm. If you have a tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMS) this will also be checked.


As with everything in this list, your wheels must be securely fitted and in good condition. This includes the wheel nuts, which must be easy to lock and unlock and have no signs of lasting damage.



Brakes and seat belts


Almost 10% of cars fail an MOT because of a brake fault. A brake performance test will determine whether your car is fit for the road. As well as this, your car’s levers and the brake pedal must be working and in good condition. 

Pre-MOT tip: keep an eye on your car and make a note if it pulls to one side when you brake. This is a common fault and may result in an MOT failure. If you’d like some expert advice, head to your Local First Stop Garage

Seat belts 

All your seatbelts must be in good condition and meet the required safety standards. This includes the clip and locking mechanism which should be easy to lock and unlock. 

You can do a basic check by giving it a sharp tug and making sure the restraint systems are working correctly. Note: all of your seatbelts must be working regardless of whether you drive with passengers. 

Steering and suspension


For obvious reasons, your steering wheel must be secure and in good condition. The tester will check this by pushing your steering wheel in multiple directions while looking for wear and damage to the wheel's components. (If you've just spent thousands on a brand new motor, don't worry, this isn't as vigorous as it sounds!) 

If your steering wheel has a locking system — which most cars do nowadays — it should only lock when the engine is off. Also, if your vehicle has power steering, you must have enough power steering fluid in the reservoir. 


UK roads are notoriously bad for potholes and uneven surfaces — especially in the city. If you do a lot of city driving, your car’s suspension components and shock absorbers will likely suffer heavy use. This can lead to corrosion, distortion and fractures that may result in an MOT failure. 



Exhaust, fuel and emissions 


Your exhaust system will be checked for two things: damage and emissions. If your exhaust is leaking or showing signs of serious wear and tear, it will fail the MOT. Likewise, if it’s emitting an illegal amount of emissions. 





Carbon monoxide and hydrocarbon emissions are two emissions emitted by a car. The MOT tester will use a gas analyser to ensure these fall within the legal limit. A visual check will also be done to ensure no coloured smoke is emitted from the exhaust. 

Pre-MOT note: emission checks require a sufficient level of fuel and engine oil to complete.

Bodywork, structure and other items 


Your car’s bodywork, chassis, engine mounts, seats, bonnet, boot and doors must be free from excessive corrosion and sharp edges that may cause injury. 


Registration plates

We’d like to think you all already know this, but just in case, you are required to have a front and rear registration plate on your vehicle. They must be secure and readable from 20 metres away.

Pre-MOT tip: the last thing you want is to fail because of a dirty car, so give it a good clean the day before your MOT test! 

Vehicle Indication Number (VIN) 

This shouldn’t cause too many problems, but a legible VIN must be on display at all times. Often found in the doorpost, the VIN plate should be secure and readable. If your vehicle doesn’t have a VIN plate, it may be stamped or etched on the body or chassis. 



Your vehicle must have a speedometer, and one that can be seen in the dark, too. An MOT tester will check to ensure your speedometer is readable and damage-free. 

Driver’s view of the road 

Almost 7% of cars fail an MOT because of a windscreen, wipers or mirror fault. 


An MOT tester will check your windscreen for chips and cracks. A chip or crack in the driver’s view larger than 10mm will result in an MOT failure. Outside the driver’s view, but within the area swept by the wiper blades, there must be no damage larger than 40mm. 


Wipers and mirrors

Give your wiper blades a once over the day before your MOT test, as this could save you a pass. Remember, your wipers must have enough rubber to leave the area smear-free. As for your rear-view mirrors, they must be secure and give the driver a clear view of the road behind (and to the side). 

Can a car pass its MOT with warning lights?

It’s not so much paradise by the dashboard light, but a potential headache when one appears. Again, we advise you to book in with your nearest MOT test centre whenever you see a warning light on your dashboard.

If your dashboard is more illuminated than a fruit machine, then the chances are your car is heading for an MOT fail. Dashboard warning lights are your car’s way of telling you something is wrong, and lights such as engine, ABS, brake fluid and airbag are visions that will result in a failed MOT test.

The good news is that your nearest First Stop depot can carry out the necessary work which will take away the warning lights and a valid MOT certificate will eventually be issued.

Pre-MOT checklist

There are a number of reasons why a car can fail its MOT, precisely because a wide range of tests are carried out across all areas of the vehicle. It only has to fail in one of these areas to fail the whole MOT.

We’ve created a pre-test recipe for you because we want your car to pass its test without any fuss, which is currently priced as little as £34.99!

The checklist is below:

  • Tyres

The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm. Insert a 20p coin in the tread; if you can see the border, it’s time to change the tyres before the test. Look for any cuts and bulges too.

  • Horn

Honk it! If it doesn't work, it'll need to be repaired or replaced.

  • Lights and indicators

Check the headlights, licence plate lights, hazard lights and indicators and are all working as normal.

  • Seats and seatbelts

Check that the driver’s seat moves easily in the various adjustment buttons / levers. When it comes to the seatbelts, check every belt fully to make sure there are no cuts or fraying, that they retract properly and that they’re secure. Give them a sharp pull to make sure they’re responsive, too.

  • Brake lights

You might just need a socially distanced friend or family member for this one.

Ask them to check the brake lights while you press the brake pedal. If you are on your own and can’t get help, try carefully reversing up to a reflective surface and look behind to see if they're working.

  • Number plate

This is an easy one! Make sure your number plate is clean and readable – a quick wash is sufficient. If it’s not, it could fail the test. The font and spacing of the number plate characters must also comply with guidelines too.

  • Screenwash

This one catches out more motorists than you’d think. Make sure they’re topped up, basically! The screen washers must provide enough fluid to do their job, otherwise, prepare to fail.

  • Fuel and engine oil

Your car should tell you if it’s thirsty for either. Just make sure that its thirst is quenched with enough of both for its MOT. Before checking or topping up the levels, be sure that your car has been off for a little while and has had a chance to cool down. If you drive a newer diesel car which uses AdBlue, remember that the MOT will check this system too, so keep it topped up as necessary.

  • Windscreen and wipers

If there is any damage (cracks / chips) more than 10mm in the driver’s area of the windscreen and more than 40mm in the rest of the windscreen, your car will fail. For wipers, make sure that they can clean the front and back windscreens properly. Windscreen stickers or other obstructions to your view may also cause an MOT failure.




Our How to prepare your car for an MOT? Blog is on hand to help you get your car ready.

What is the most common MOT failure?

This is always a topic that generates discussions and raises an eyebrow or two, which is why we dedicated a separate feature to it, which can be found here.

Around one-third of cars fail their MOT the first time of asking, according to the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA). The DVSA states that around 27 million cars undergo an MOT test each year in the UK and 29% didn’t initially pass in 2022. Below are the most common causes for failure, according to data supplied by the DVSA. 


MOT Test Category Percentage of Failures
Lights, reflectors and electrics 25%
Suspension 19%
Brakes 16%
Tyres 12%
Impaired visibility 9%
Body, chassis and structure 6%
Noise, emissions and leaks 5%
Steering 3%
Seatbelts and other restraint systems 2%
Vehicle identification 1%
Wheels 1%

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