Top tips to passing your MOT first time

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MOT test certificate

Why do you need an MOT?

Vehicles that are 3 years or older must have an annual MOT test to ensure that they meet the minimum safety level required by law. Your MOT test certificate must be renewed every year. This ensures that all vehicles on the road are safe to drive.

If you’re caught driving without an MOT then you could face a £1,000 fine, so it’s important to book your MOT test before it runs out. Some drivers may not be aware that you also cannot drive or park your vehicle on the road if the MOT has run out. Your vehicle can only be driven to or from somewhere to be repaired or to a pre-arranged MOT test.

How much does an MOT cost?

There is a maximum amount MOT test stations can charge, and this is dependent on the vehicle type. Currently the maximum price of an MOT for a car is £54.85 and £58.60 for an HGV.

How to pass your MOT test first time

It’s been reported that 1 in 3 vehicles initially fail their MOT. This causes vehicles to be off the road for longer which can be costly for your business. To help ensure your fleet passes an MOT first time, every time, we’ve compiled some useful advice about what vehicle checks you should undertake in advance of your test.

Car lights, brake lights and indicators

Nearly a fifth of all cars which fail their MOT have an issue with their lights. This can be prevented by switching on all the lights and then walking around your vehicle to check that they’re all in working order. This will show whether you need to replace any bulbs on your vehicle before your MOT.


For you to stay safe on the road, it’s essential that your brakes are working correctly. If your brakes ever feel spongy or are making unusual noises when driving or braking, then it’s advisable to get them checked and changed as soon as possible. To pass your MOT test first time, your handbrake and brake pedal must be 100% operational, so it’s important for them to have previously been checked.

Car windscreen and wipers

Before your MOT test, you should inspect your windscreen for any deep cracks or chips. If there are any obstructions in the area directly in front of the driver that are larger than 10mm then your vehicle would not pass its MOT. It’s also recommended that you remove any attachments, like phone cradles, that are stuck on the window.

Windscreen wipers must be in good condition. If they appear worn or cracked, then it may be worth replacing them before your MOT appointment.


Any tyres that do not meet the legal requirement of 1.6mm tyre tread depth in a continuous band around the central ¾ of the tyre will not pass an MOT. Drivers can check for this issue themselves as most tyres have tread wear indicators. You should also inspect your tyres for any cuts, cracks, or bulges in the sidewall.


Your vehicle may fail its MOT if the noise levels are deemed to be excessive by the MOT inspector and it must be free from serious leaks or advanced corrosion. Checking for unusual, excessive noises or rattles coming from your exhaust will minimise the risk of your vehicle failing the MOT test.


Vehicle emission testing is now a fundamental component of all MOT tests. High emissions are classed as a major fault which will impact whether your vehicle passes or fails. This tends to affect diesel vehicles more but with proper maintenance emission levels can be improved. Regular oil checks and servicing can improve efficiency, or you can use fuel additives which will help to clean out your fuel system.


It’s more challenging to assess your vehicle’s steering system yourself but there are usually warning signs that you can look out for. If your vehicle pulls to one side when driving or you hear any unusual noises, then you should seek out mechanical advice to ensure that you pass your MOT test first time.

Registration plates

Did you know that you can fail your MOT if your registration plates are too dirty? This can easily be rectified by ensuring that your registration plates are clean and clear. They should also be securely attached and professionally manufactured from the correct reflective material.

Did you know: You can set up your fuel card to allow car wash purchases so you can ensure your fleet is clean and manage the cost with an HMRC approved invoice.


Before your MOT you should test your vehicle’s horn. This should be tested in an area where you will not disturb other drivers, cyclists, or pedestrians. If your horn does not work, then it needs to be repaired or replaced before your MOT.


Seatbelts should not be cut or frayed, and they must be able to clip securely into the holder. It’s also essential that your seatbelts lock fully in the event of a collision. By tugging sharply, you can test if they will, if they do not you may risk failing your MOT.

Vehicle cleanliness

Vehicles that are excessively filthy may be refused by the MOT tester. It’s therefore advised that you thoroughly clean your vehicle inside and out and remove personal possessions to make the inspection easier.

Essential Fluids

Ensuring that all the essential fluids are topped up is one of the final checks you should make before your MOT. You should check the engine oil, windscreen washer fluid and brake fluid to prevent any warning lights on your dashboard. In addition, your vehicle must have sufficient fuel for the MOT because the tester will need to run your engine for the emissions test. If there isn’t enough fuel, then your test will be marked as incomplete which results in an automatic fail.

Booking your MOT test

You can book your MOT online or via the phone at most garages. Some will even collect your vehicle and return it within the same day for no extra cost. 

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Karl Gurney
Head of Sales

Karl has over 14 years of experience in the fuel card industry and has a wealth of knowledge around the servicing and maintenance of fleet vehicles. Outside of work, Karl coaches a junior football team and enjoys spending time with his wife and 2 sons.