What does an MOT test on your car?

Once you find the right local MOT car garage the MOT will test important items on your vehicle to check that they meet all road safety legal standards.

The test will not cover the condition of these items:

  • engine
  • clutch
  • gearbox

MOT car checks

Body, vehicle structure and general items

To check that:

  • specific areas are free from excessive corrosion or damage
  • no sharp edges are present that may cause injury


Towbars are inspected for:

  • secureness
  • condition
  • inappropriate repairs or modification

The MOT tester will also check that:

  • the 13 pin electrical socket is working correctly
  • the speedometer is in good working order
  • the engine mountings are secure

Fuel system

To check that:

  • there are no leaks
  • the pipes and hoses are secure and in good condition
  • the fuel cap fastens and seals securely

Your car keys should be available as the fuel cap will need to be opened.

Exhaust emissions

The vehicle will be inspected, depending on the age and fuel type of the vehicle, to check that it meets the rules for exhaust emissions.

Diesel vehicles

The MOT tester can refuse to test your vehicle if they think that the smoke test may damage your engine.

You should tell them at the start of the MOT if you think this may happen.

To reduce the possibility of damage and increase the chances of passing, you should:

  • keep your vehicle maintained at all times
  • have the camshaft drive belt replaced at the recommended intervals
  • go for the MOT with a fully warmed up engine – it will produce less smoke and is safer to test
  • not tamper with the governor settings

Exhaust system

To check that:

  • it’s secure and complete
  • a catalyst isn’t missing where one was fitted as standard
  • it’s without serious leaks and not too noisy


To check that:

  • all mandatory seatbelts are in place
  • they are suitable for the vehicle
  • they are in a good condition
  • they work properly
  • they are attached securely

The malfunction indicator lamps (MILs) or dashboard warning lights will be checked for the:

  • air bags
  • seatbelt pretensioners (which remove the slack from a seatbelt in the event of a collision)
  • seatbelt load limiters (which release a small amount of belt when it’s too tight)


To check that:

  • the driver’s seat can be adjusted
  • all seats are securely fitted and that seat backs can be fixed in the upright position


To check that:

  • the latch is secure in the closed position
  • the front doors open from inside and outside the vehicle
  • the rear doors open from outside the vehicle
  • hinges and catches are secure and in good condition


To check for the minimum number of mirrors, their condition and security. Indirect vision devices will also inspected.

Load security

To check that the boot or tailgate can be closed properly.


To check:

  • their condition, including inappropriate repairs or modifications
  • their operation and performance (the efficiency test) – the wheels and trims aren’t removed as part of the test
  • the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and electronic stability control (ESC) (where fitted)

The MILs or dashboard warning lights will also be checked for the ABSESC, electronic park brake and brake fluid warning lights.

Tyres and wheels

To check for:

  • condition
  • security
  • tyre size and type
  • tread depth

Spare tyres or wheels are not inspected.

Vehicles first used on or after 1 January 2012 will be checked to make sure the tyre pressure monitoring system (TPMSMIL is working.

Registration plates

To check for:

  • condition
  • secure attachment
  • colour
  • characters correctly formed and spaced


To check:

  • their condition
  • operation, including high intensity discharge (HID) and light emitting diode (LED)
  • the headlamps for cleaning, self levelling and security
  • headlamp aim
  • main beam warning light working


To check that it closes securely.

Wipers and washers

To check that they work properly so the driver has a clear view of the road.


To check for:

  • condition
  • the driver’s view of the road


To check:

  • that it works properly
  • it’s suitable for the vehicle

Steering and suspension

To check:

  • their condition
  • steering oil level
  • they work correctly
  • for inappropriate repairs or modification including corrosion to power steering pipes or hoses
  • that the steering lock mechanism works properly

The MILs or dashboard warning lights will also be checked for the electronic power steering and steering lock.

Vehicle identification number (VIN)

The VIN will be on vehicles first used on or after 1 August 1980. Your car will be inspected to check that a single VIN is displayed, except on multistage build vehicles (eg van conversion, BMW, Alpina etc).


Visible electrical wiring and the battery will be checked.