Keep your “darling” safe for two more years
The MOT check is a merciless date deciding on the fate of a car. A fresh certificate allows further use. If the car is rejected, this usually means the scrapheap. However, MOT-relevant defects are not always easily identified. In this manual you car find everything you need to know for the upcoming MOT inspection.
|1. At first sight|
|1.1 Lighting system|
|1.2 Corrosion damage|
|1.3 Check the tyres thoroughly|
|1.4 Detect leakages|
|2.1 A car shows its real face underneath|
|2.2 Brakes are most important for MOT|
Tricky but important: the MOT inspection
Safe use of a car requires it to be suitable for daily traffic. It may not constitute a danger for itself and other traffic participants. In addition to general traffic reliability this also touches upon environmental aspects and noise management.
1. At first sight
Before you consider having your car MOT inspected one more time, walk around your car. Switch on the lights and the turn indicator. Ideally, the car is facing a wall.
A car may have no sharp-edged damage. This concerns in addition to corrosion damage defective or missing plastic parts. These damages must be repaired. The bumpers must be robustly and correctly mounted. The radiator grille may not be damaged. The windshield wipers must be present and intact. Within the range of vision, the windshield may not have any cracks. You can inspect the windscreen wipers yourself.
1.1 Lighting system:
Are the headlights equally bright? Every dysfunctional lamp must be replaced. The turn indicator should contain no water. Especially tricky is the Plexiglas headlight housing which became fashionable 15 years ago. Over time it becomes dull and badly scratched, seriously affecting the light beam. The only way is either replacement or thorough polishing. The accessory trade has meanwhile acknowledged this problem and offers suitable polishing sets, with help of which you can upgrade your headlights with ca. 2 hours of work. This is certainly worthwhile and in any case considerably cheaper than new headlights. The cover shouldn’t have cracks or fissures. If so, MOT demands replacement.
1.2 Corrosion damage:
Enemy number 1 for the MOT is rust. The MOT will judge “with foresight.” Even if a spot of rust on a supporting part is not yet completely corroded, the MOT might deny a certificate. This applies especially if total corrosion is expected within the coming months. Therefore: grinding, filling and painting is necessary to prevent any further corrosion. If base plates, sills and support beams are badly affected by corrosion, only professional welding can help. This must always be done in a garage. Not all corrosion damage can be repaired. The professionals in the garage can tell you exactly if welding repair of the car is still worthwhile.
1.3 Check the tyres thoroughly:
Start with a visual check of the tyres. They must have a profile depth of at least 1.6 mm. This is more or less half of the gold-coloured edge of a 1-euro coin. A depth of 2 – 3 mm is recommended. Tyres may show no fissures, bumps or cuts and most certainly no foreign elements such as bolts or nails. Dents in the rim cause suspicion at MOT inspection. They are generally a result of damage to the steerage. A frequent defect: the car has the wrong set of tyres. Checking the registration document gives information on the proper tyres for the car.
Please note: As of November 2014, a tyre-pressure monitoring system (TPMS) is compulsory on all new cars, equipping every rim with a sensor. Although these sensors are not always visible from the outside, MOT has means and ways to check if the sensors are present.
1.4 Detect leakages:
Start the engine and apply full throttle. Does the exhaust roar loudly? If yes, a more detailed inspection is the next step. Open the bonnet and check the engine. Leaking coolant, fissured tanks of braking fluids, coolant or windshield washer must be repaired or replaced. The engine shouldn’t smell of fuel or visibly leak it. Run the engine again and check the exhaust. If the engine is hot, white or blue smoke indicates further damage. Your car will fail the exhaust check and will be denied a certificate. Especially relevant is the oil. Prior to your private inspection, the engine should be thoroughly rinsed. After rinsing take the car for a 20 km spin. Now you can determine if and where motor oil is leaking. For MOT there is no such thing as “minor loss of oil”. If the car is leaking lubricant or other liquids, it is no longer fit for traffic and the certificate will be denied. Repair all defects causing leakage.
Inspect the back of the radiator. If it leaks and is corroded, it needs to be replaced.
Please note: the battery must have a cover at least at its positive pole (red cable). Without it, you risk a fine and a penalty point in your driving licence in case of a police control.
2.1 A car only shows its real face underneath:
Here you can see the extent of corrosion damage. Carefully check the exhaust. Even if it makes a “healthy” impression, minor damages are obvious by the small spots of soot. Depending on the thickness of the material these damages can be welded.
The exhaust is a wear part and therefore relatively cheaply replaced. Knock against the bottom side of the catalytic converter with your fist. Nothing should rattle. If you hear this, the ceramic element is damaged. Only replacement can fix this. The MOT will in this case measure faulty exhaust values.
Check the cable of the lambda sensor. It should be undamaged. Check the proper mounting of the exhaust. New, fitting rubbers always make a good impression.
2.2 Brakes are most important for MOT:
These must function correctly. This is best checked by a brake test, which is very often free of charge. A malfunctioning brake can have many causes. A test will provide you with detailed information on the condition of your brake discs, pads and calipers.
Ultimately check the hoses of fuel and brakes. Everything rusty, ruptured or ugly needs to be replaced.
BREMBO Brake discs
Don’t forget the details
If you want to drive to the MOT inspection with a clear conscience, mind the details: the warning triangle, an approved bandage kit and a warning vest must be on board. Having to come back because of these is a great nuisance. A successful inspection on the contrary is always a reason for joy.
Weblinks: MOT Checklist
Foto: bbernard, Levent Konuk, perfectlab, CHIEW, Casper1774 Studio, Corepics VOF, ND700, Tyler Olson / shutterstock.com