“It’s failed because a headlight is out?”

“I’m afraid so, yes”

“But it was fine yesterday, I checked it”

“There’s no bulb in it”

“Well, when I say checked it, it's just been serviced and the bloke said it would sail through”

"Which bloke?"

"The bloke who serviced it"

"Ok, where was this?"

"On my drive"


The true story above related to a recently presented car, which with a little fettling eventually passed its MOT test, but you’d be amazed at how many cars fail their annual MOT test for trivial things that are easy to see and usually very easy to fix. We’re talking the aforementioned blown bulbs, smearing & badly worn wiper blades, tyres with too little tread, or even empty windscreen washer fluid bottles and any number of minor faults that mean an MOT fail and a return trip and retest. Around 1.5 million vehicles fail their MOT every year because of these simple things, and almost half of all MOT failures could be avoided if owners carried out regular, simple maintenance.

So, before you bring your car to us for its annual MOT test, take a few minutes to carry out these quick and easy checks to give your car the best chance of passing the test, and possibly save you time and money. If you do find any faults that you can’t easily fix, let us know in advance so we can complete the work before the test is carried out. Just be careful when checking fluid levels and handling parts that could become hot to the touch, and if you’re not sure how to fix it… don’t!

1. Headlights and indicators

Our most common reason for a failure – it never ceases to amaze us that cars are presented with blown bulbs. Nationwide, 30% of all failures are related to lighting and signalling, so check all your car’s lights – headlights, sidelights, rear lights, hazard lights and indicators.

2. Brake lights

Press the brake pedal and ask a friend to check that the rear brake lights come on – including any supplementary brake strip light. Alternatively, carefully reverse up to a window, wall or garage door and look behind to see for yourself.

3. Number plate

Make sure that the number plate is clean and legible – even a quick wipe with a cloth can make a difference. The font and spacing of letters must also comply with legal requirements – no changing numbers to letters to show your name!

4. Wheels and tyres

Check that wheels and tyres are undamaged. The minimum legal tyre tread depth is 1.6mm and any tyres with less than this will be marked as an MOT ‘fail’ - if you’re in doubt about how much tread is left on a tyre, we can check it, free, just bring the car in at any time. We can also advise on the type of tyre that is right for your car if a replacement is required, and remember, it’s recommended that tyres are changed when tread reaches 3mm.

5. Seats and seatbelts

The driver's seat should adjust forwards and backwards and all seatbelts should be in good, working order. Test movement of the seat and inspect the seatbelt's full length for damage. Tug sharply on all seatbelts to check that they react as they’re supposed to if you have to brake severely.

6. Windscreen

Check the view out of the front of the car for damage – any damage larger than 40mm will cause a ‘fail’, as will any damage wider than 10mm in the ‘swept’ area of the windscreen in front of the driver.

7. Windscreen wipers

Make sure your wipers are able to keep your windscreen clean – any tears or holes in the wiper rubber can be an MOT fail. And …

8. Screenwash

Top up the washer bottle before taking the car in for a test – something as simple as an empty container can cause an MOT fail.

9. Horn

Give a short blast of the horn – if it doesn’t work, we’ll need to repair or replace it.

10. Fuel and engine oil

Make sure your car has enough fuel and engine oil – we can’t run the test for emissions levels with insufficient juice.

Never Forget Your MOT Again

Life is hectic at the best of times, so it's easy to forget when your car's MOT is due. To give you a helping hand, if you register on our MyVauxhall website - the exclusive club for Vauxhall owners - we'll automatically send you a reminder e-mail every year before your MOT and service are due.

Being a member of MyVauxhall also means you'll receive general advice on keeping your Vauxhall in tip-top condition, plus fantastic deals and offers.